Patience + a Littleton Real Estate Agent = Job Done!

2-13-agent-300x201Unless you’ve had occasion to buy a corporate jet or office building recently, the sheer size of a home purchase puts it in a class of its own. One indicator is that most people decide to engage the services of a Littleton real estate agent to help them out. This is not a trip to the mall…

It follows that first-time home buyers usually approach the whole process with a great deal of caution—an entirely appropriate attitude. Buying a home is one purchase you will be living with for a long time, so getting it right is worth any amount of effort.

Veterans of the home-buying fray start out with the advantages experience brings. They know the how’s, when’s and why’s of the home inspection and loan application processes, and when their real estate agent supplies them with listing printouts, their eyes quickly fall to the details that are most important in their current quest (which could be anything from property tax figures to details about the mechanicals). If they aren’t yet familiar with all of Littleton’s neighborhoods, they know to quiz their real estate agent about the pertinent local characteristics, especially when some features like school ratings or traffic patterns are likely to be key factors in the final choice. And they know that the first property that looks good on paper may not pan out in person.

For first-timers as well as home-buying veterans, there is one key mental predisposition that is sure to make the experience less stressful—and possibly more rewarding. It’s a mindset that doesn’t always come without effort—especially when time pressures are involved. The virtue in question is straightforward: patience.

Don’t Rush
Don’t give up after the first five (or eight) houses. Home buying is a process, and it can be a glacial one at times. By showing you houses, your Littleton real estate agent gets an ever-sharper idea of what you’re searching for. You may not wind up with the first or even tenth house you are shown. If you prepare yourself for a house-buying process that could take several months, you’re much less likely to let impatience cause you to settle for less than otherwise.

Bid for Value
The offer and negotiation processes are more of an art than a science—and this alone would be reason enough to want a Littleton real estate agent to be on your team. A Littleton agent knows the comps in the area, how truly comparable each is, what they sold for, and how the market is moving. If an offer is countered, your agent can suggest non-monetary inducements where appropriate…and let you know if it might be time to move on.

Don’t Be Discouraged
If you bid on a home but wind up losing it, don’t become discouraged. It’s hard to temper emotions when house hunting, but it works to your interest when you continue to view the entire process as a business proposition.

Even should a house offer fall through, you can rest assured that there are other viable candidates out there. With patience, a businesslike frame of mind, and an experienced Littleton real estate agent by your side, the odds are definitely stacked in your favor. Giving me a call is a good way to start taking advantage of them!

To Sell an Englewood House in Winter, Think Cozy!

2-13-winter-300x186Some folks live for our Englewood winters. For them, the brisk air is a tonic; longer night times are invitations to enjoy the warmth and cheer of fireside camaraderie; the prospect of winter sports is something they look forward to all year long. For everyone else it may be more of a drag—particularly when a succession of storms seem to conspire to make their lives miserable.

It can also be a tough time to sell an Englewood house—but only if you allow it to be! Winter does tend to make most Englewood houses look drab and barren; and, in general, potential buyers tend to be scarce for a number of reasons. But those who are in the wintertime hunt are apt to be quite serious, so it’s worth remembering that sales can be kindled on even the bleakest February day—especially for owners who keep in mind some simple guidelines:

1. Create your own warmth

Whether it’s turning up the thermostat, lighting a crackling fire, or arranging for that batch of chocolate chip cookies to have just emerged from the oven, thinking cozy is the antidote to gloomy days. The object is to make the entrance from the cheerless outdoors a passage into a welcoming environment brimming with welcoming ambiance. To sell a house in foul weather, make the contrast with the outdoors as stark as possible!

2. Light their way

To compensate for the dimmer sunlight on some winter days, dispel the gloom by turning on all the lights: lamps, overheads, chandeliers—any and everything to brighten the place. To sell an Englewood house (especially in later afternoon showings), be certain to open shades and curtains, too.

3. Have summertime pictures on hand

Be sure to lay out a picture or two of the property in more attractive months. While potential buyers may not be able to see the home when the sun is shining, a picture can help them envision what the house is like during most of the year.

4. Plus—the regular drill!

And don’t forget the basics: carefully tidied, sparklingly polished, spotlessly cleaned, etc. It may be a little bit more of a chore to disperse the clutter (it does seem to multiply when you’ve been cooped up for days!), but it’s every bit as important as ever. Aromas are important anytime you sell a house, so obliterate stuffy winter air with strategically placed potpourri and candles.

The fact is, when it’s properly priced, you can sell a house in Englewood at any time of the year. To get the ball rolling, I hope you will make my number the first one you call!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know: When to Publish Englewood Listings

2-4-whentolist-300x201It is a good bet that the first place the public will spot your house for sale will be the Englewood listings. If 90% of those who actually do buy a home go to the web during their search (researchers at the National Association of Realtors® say so), they will either go directly to the Englewood listings or find them through a Realtor’s site.

If you think like an advertising director, you might wonder when, exactly, the best time would be for your new listing’s premier? Is it in the dead of winter? Springtime? Summer? And is there a perfect day of the month, or (come to think of it) day of the week?

The NAR® has weighed in with some concrete answers. Well, actually, not really answers per se—more like information to help satisfy our curiosity. It turns out there really is no single best time for Englewood listings to debut, for a couple of reasons; nonetheless, in case you’re curious (I was) about the findings, here they are:

The most popular home listing debut last year was Thursday, May 1, 2014. Second, April Fools’ Day. April and May were sprinkled liberally through the Top 25; but June, and March were all up there, too. But although the 20th was one of the top days of the month for listings launches (as well as the 24th through 30th), the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd ranked often enough to tilt the overall results toward early in the month.

As for the most favored day of the week, there really wasn’t a clear winne­­r—though there were definitely a couple of losers. Saturday and Sunday were all but ignored as days anyone first listed their homes, possibly because most real estate professionals are out in the field most weekends. Launching listings is a job best performed at an office desk.

Closings—the days that home sales are signed and sealed—­­­had the same unpopular pair of days: weekend closings were predictably rare, as were Federal holidays. Two strange exceptions did pop up last year: Sunday, November 30, and Sunday, August 31. That has to be because of the natural inclination for people to pick the end of a month when they need to come up with a deadline. Often enough, we have to scramble to meet any deadline…if it happens to fall on a Sunday, too bad!

But although we have all this information about what the most common days to inaugurate a listing or finalize a home’s sale, that ­­really doesn’t answer what’s the best time to do either. After all, just because more people pick similar dates, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily advantageous. You might even argue that the best day to begin Englewood listings would be the least popular one, since your listing would be more likely to stand out when it’s the newest. Lonely, but brave!

There is one good answer to when is the best time to list your home: it’s whenever you’re ready. There are plenty of prospective buyers at all times—and as has been well-documented, a lot of them start looking in the dead of winter, when outdoors activities are at a minimum. As for when is the best time to give me a call? Anytime!

5 Very Good Reasons for Using a Littleton Buyer’s Agent

2-4-buyeragentThey don’t teach this in high school, but maybe they should. The difference between a Littleton buyer’s agent and a Littleton seller’s agent can be pivotal, yet first-time home buyers have to figure that out on their own. You can read quotes on the web that say things like, “I looked for a buyer’s agent instead of a real estate agent” (true story!) that illustrate how little knowledge is out there. It wouldn’t take much classroom time to explain that buyer’s and seller’s agents are both real estate agents, after all. And while the subject is being explained to the class, I’d put in these five very good reasons for using a buyer’s agent in Littleton home purchases:

1. There for You

A buyer’s agent is by definition obligated to promote the interests of you, the buyer. When you are being shown a home by a personable real estate agent, it’s tempting to simply go with that agent, who may be quite a nice person. After all, he or she knows the house and knows the seller. But the problem is that the agent is duty-bound to act on behalf of the seller—and in any business negotiation, you want somebody who is unequivocally in your corner. Especially since-

2. It’s Free!

A buyer’s agent is compensated through a commission. In this case, it is paid out of the proceeds from the sale price of the house. You’re reading that right: since it issues from the sellers’ proceeds, you get the service for free! Of course, the size of commission the buyer’s agent receives can impact negotiations if the seller thinks the rate is unreasonable. Remember that you can negotiate most things, including agent compensation.

3. Advice

If you rely on the listing agent, he or she can only answer certain questions that don’t transgress their duty to the seller. Issues like price, tactics, and timing can be crucial in striking a good deal—but it is precisely on those kinds of issues that a listing agent is likely to be unable to advise you. Especially if you like the agent, you might be tempted to assume silence on a point means endorsement; and that could be a costly misunderstanding. Again, a buyer’s agent in Littleton knows the Littleton market from the buyer’s perspective, and can provide a wealth of information that point you in the right direction.

4. Your Personal Traffic Cop

In a typical real estate transaction, you will encounter an array of players, including lawyers, the seller or sellers, the seller’s agent, the financial institution, the home inspection team, and on and on. Buyer’s agents keep things running smoothly. They help organize the process so it makes financial and emotional sense to choose your buyer’s agent carefully.

5. It’s Free!

If ever there were something worth repeating…

The point worth remembering is that buying a house or a condominium is such a major event, securing a professional to watch out for your interests is good common sense. It’s why giving me a call even before beginning any house-hunting venture is a very good idea!

Choosing a Littleton Home Inspector with the Right Stuff

2-4-homeinspector-300x225The importance of hiring a reliable home inspection is one of the bedrock principles every home buyer reads and hears about from all quarters. Any Realtor® worthy of the name will be able to recommend a Littleton home inspector with the kind of strong credentials that establish the validity of his or her report—it’s part of the full service a real estate professional brings to the process of buying a home.
The object of the inspection is, of course, to prevent the unexpected: repair bills that might otherwise go undetected until after the purchase. A good inspector finds problems before you close on a property. Although a home inspector’s fee may require an investment of a few hundred dollars, it’s certainly better than spending tens of thousands down the road.

A thorough inspection and the report that follows are what you are looking for—what earns a new home buyer peace of mind. And choosing the right candidate isn’t difficult, as long as you are willing to follow a few common sense procedures. For instance, the written inspection report is an important part of the process, yet some inspectors wind up sending only a checklist. The best ones accompany that with their more detailed written observations. Before you commit, ask the candidate if you can see a sample of the kind of report that will be prepared.

It’s a very good idea for you to be present when the inspection is made—it’s a one-time chance to see for yourself some of the workings of the property from a professional’s point of view. A good inspector may suggest it…and certainly will not object when you invite yourself to the party. If he or she objects, my advice is to find someone else.

As with any other expert, check the candidate’s reputation online. The Better Business Bureau website, Angie’s List, Yelp, and all the other websites that post continuing reviews of professional service providers can supply good feedback. But again, be thorough: watch out for ‘paid’ ratings; check more than one source; and if a complaint is registered, be sure to bring it up when interviewing an otherwise-qualified candidate.

Home inspectors who are strongly tied to the Littleton business community, or who are involved in national-level home inspector organizations, have their reputations on the line with every inspection. These inspectors may provide higher quality service than others, and although choosing a leading Littleton home inspector may wind up costing a few dollars more, when you’re about to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a home, paying a bit extra is usually money well spent.

Whenever my clients ask for advice in choosing a home inspector in Littleton, I supply a choice of several, along with what I have heard from other clients who have used them recently. It’s part of the service I’m pleased to offer—and another good reason to give me a call!

Minding Basics: Super Bowl Clichés that Help Home Buyers

2-4-superbowl-277x300Englewood home buyers may not have been watching the Patriots’ squeaker victory in Sunday’s Super Bowl for the purpose of learning something about real estate, but at least one useful piece of wisdom did become evident: the enduring value of minding the fundamentals. Despite the harrowing last 20 seconds, when the power of Seattle seemed sure to win the day, New England had confidence that their team was steeped in the fundamentals. Elaborate plays or complicated strategies didn’t seem important.

In the world of real estate, too, Englewood home buyers also benefit once some basic elements are in place. They aren’t secret or trick plays, either—they’re quite straightforward and well known. But overlooking them makes for a flawed game plan:

  1. Establish the playing field. We learned from the subprime mortgage mess that it can be a mistake for home buyers to rely on anyone else—even lenders—to determine their ultimate bottom line. The amount home buyers can safely afford is a matter of sitting down and adding up all the monthly expenditures, being sure to include once- or twice-a-year expenses like auto insurance. Once home buyers have determined an affordable monthly mortgage payment, they know their target home’s price range.
  2. After determining how much house they can safely afford, the next fundamental is to secure pre-financing. Englewood home buyers who have taken the trouble to have a pre-approval in place demonstrate to lenders, sellers, and everyone involved that their game plan is one to be taken seriously. It’s an early step that sets home buyers up for success.
  3. With those basics in place, it’s just about time to start the all-important search for that next home. All home buyers need now is to put one more fundamental in place by teaming with an experienced Englewood real estate agent. Unearthing the most suitable home is a process that should involve identifying all eligible Englewood properties—and not wasting time on those that don’t measure up. Recruiting a knowledgeable local Realtor® is the most fundamentally sound way to efficiently comb Englewood’s relevant properties (and sometimes even a few that might not yet be listed!).

Most people haven’t had the benefit of real estate training, and yet the quality of the search for their next home will in many ways determine much of their family’s future well-being. I do my best to ensure that my clients benefit from a well-grounded game plan. I hope you’ll give me a call if you are preparing to search for your next home!

International Home Buyers Might be Englewood’s Next Prospects

1-28-intlbuyer-300x225Englewood homeowners could benefit if the influx of international home buyers continues to expand. According to a study from the National Association Realtors®, the trend in that direction has been accelerating. In the most recent release covering the twelve-month period ending last March, foreign nationals are reported to have spent more than $92 billion in the United States for the year.

That’s growth at a blistering pace: an increase of 35% over the $68 billion spent in 2012!

How Englewood homeowners stand to benefit from the increase in foreign buyers has a lot to do with today’s changing real estate marketplace. Since international home buyers need to learn as much as possible about a property from afar, the improvements in online presentation serve a very necessary purpose. When one of our Englewood listings includes an extensive selection of photos or video footage, it becomes a legitimate part of the emerging international marketplace. Combined with today’s easy-to-navigate links to detailed information about Englewood’s neighborhoods and local amenities, a local property is realistically accessible to buyers from anywhere in the world.

Last year’s foreign sales were split almost equally between foreign buyers whose primary residence is outside the country and those currently living here. Not surprisingly, the greatest number of sales—19%—came from Canadian nationals, closely followed by the Chinese (16%) and Mexicans (9%). Both Indian and United Kingdom nationals weighed in with 5% of last year’s purchases, while lesser percentages of international home buyers hailed from Germany, followed by the French, Brazilians, and Japanese.

The NAR study also delved into the reasons international home buyers increasingly favor U.S. properties—although the answers were wide-ranging. For some, it was the investment potential that was the biggest draw: owning U.S. properties is seen as a solid way to diversify foreign portfolios. International buyers value the relative economic stability and attractive prices present in our real estate market. Other buyers are relocating to the United States for professional reasons, while still others purchase a property for children attending college.

One aspect that Englewood property owners might find interesting is that international home buyers tend to purchase higher-priced houses. That might be due to the impact of the Chinese buyers, whose primary focus is in areas like New York and California where properties are more expensive. In contrast, Canadians are more likely to purchase in lower-priced areas of the country. This is one reason why, although Canadians purchased more properties last year, the amount they spent ($13.8 billion) represented a slight decline from the previous year.

International buyers have another standout attribute that Englewood home sellers should find attractive: they are more likely to pay entirely in cash! About 60% of all purchases made by international home buyers required no financing—that’s up a third from 2007. When you consider the average sales price, it represents a fairly hefty cash infusion.

If your own Englewood home will be on the market soon, I hope you will give me a call to discuss how we can create a strong presentation for local and international home buyers alike!

Moves to the ‘Burbs? Conflicting Trends Shed Little Light

1-28-burbs-300x164Littleton real estate trackers stay informed via the most recent listing and sales numbers, which is the most solid information of all. It’s helpful for planning purposes—even though what has happened in the past is only a suggestion of how real estate in Littleton will perform in coming months. To get another indicator of future activity, the broader national trends are worth watching, along with the analyses and predictions of the top real estate experts. But it’s not always clear which trend is emerging, or which expert is right.

Case in point concerns younger families abandoning more urban areas to take up residence in the suburbs. Everyone acknowledges this group has been slow to settle into their first single family homes; but now there is a trend that has them selling their expensive condominium in downtown core areas, then using the proceeds for down payments on a house in the suburbs.

Real estate commentators who see this trend can bring convincing logic to their argument. Condominiums in most major downtown city cores have become increasingly expensive. For the lucky owners, it means they have gained significant real estate equity. However, especially for those with growing families, the downside is that they can’t afford to grow into a larger condo in their current neighborhood. Their best option is to sell the condo and move to the suburbs, where their money will get them more real estate.

Urban Studies Professor Joel Kotkin confirms that the first group of millennials, now entering their 30s, “are beginning, like preceding generations, to move to the suburbs.” It’s a trend that sounds reasonable enough…but not to everyone.

Others disagree, convincingly. In fact, it’s more than a disagreement: they propound the opposite—a movement is toward city cores. The 36th edition of the seriously respectable Urban Land Institute/PricewaterhouseCoopers Emerging Trends in Real Estate report says, right there in Chapter 3, that “vibrant urban centers are almost a universal trend” in all 75 markets surveyed. That’s quite a few markets (compiled by 1,400 contributors). Lest anyone be unclear about the emerging trend itself, those quotes come from the section called “Continuing Urbanization Trend.”

To be fair, both perceived trends are subject to qualifications and footnotes that, it’s fair to say, muddle the picture. Under the Urban Land Institute/PwC’s Continuing Urbanization Trend heading, for instance, lies the statement, “Interviewees…cited activity in the traditional downtown area and also in suburban nodes.” In other words, perhaps the Urbanization Trend could also be sort of suburban, sort of. Littleton real estate watchers, hoping to spot a trend, could conclude that young families are moving to and fro…

In any case, you don’t have to fall into the Millennial, Gen X, GenY, Boomer or even the Greatest Gen category to follow one distinctly local trend: if you will be looking for a new home in Littleton—or have one to list—giving me a call is the thing to do!

Seeing Englewood Showings the Way Prospective Buyers Do

1-28-prosbuyer-300x222Getting properties ready for open houses or other showings in Englewood takes a bit of determination—especially when it comes to paring down all the ‘stuff’ that has accumulated through the years. It’s a push-pull between I still use that every day! and this room still looks too crowded! You may update the paint, add some fresh landscaping, but it’s the emptying-out part that sometimes takes the most resolve.

So, after that’s all done, are you ready for showings?

Not quite.

Showings and open houses are a bit like concerts and plays. They’re presentations which (hopefully) result in an experience that is pleasurable. In order to make that happen, there have to be workers who prepare behind the scenes. When successful, their efforts are invisible—a “hit” show seems to progress by itself, effortlessly. Englewood showings and open houses have that in common with theatrical productions, and to be successful, one other thing has to be present: the focus should be on the audience, not the cast members or crew. For home showings, that means thinking about what the prospective buyer (the audience) will encounter as he or she walks from room to room.

Allowing yourself to imagine how someone not familiar with your house will experience it is an exercise that yields another useful side effect. It reminds you that showings and open houses are staged to invite strangers onto the property—and that should prompt a few additional precautions.

First, think about children. You can’t keep Lookie-loos from showing up occasionally, but Englewood prospects who bring their children usually mean business. You should ensure that your home is free of potential child hazards before showings. Just as you would child-proof for family member visits, eliminate unnecessarily long extension cords, tempting (and sharp) fireplace pokers, knickknacks small enough to be choking hazards (should have packed them up, anyway!) and any other dangerous thing that might attract little fingers.

Not only because of children, clear as much of the half-used debris from cabinets and shelves as possible. Make them look like the spacious ones you see on HGTV—your “audience” will be impressed with the abundance of storage. Don’t forget the medicine cabinet. Secure all medications, so you don’t have to worry when you are gone or out of the room. Clean out the “junk drawer” or the place where you keep mail or bills. Everything will look organized and your private information will be secure from over-curious eyes. For these and for jewelry, you may want to get a lock box for added security.

When you do walk-throughs like a first-time visitor, you will find that you’re much more able to relax while your trusted real estate agent is conducting showings. Showings are just part of what will make up an effective marketing effort for your Englewood home. Give me a call to discuss how we can make all the parts fit together!

5 Steps for Finding an Affordable House in Littleton

1-28-affordable-300x252Despite the improving economic outlook, for many families, finding a Littleton affordable house can still be a challenge. According to a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, more than a third of today’s families have had to devote at least 30% of their combined household income to the monthly mortgage payment—and that figure exceeds the generally accepted standard. In other words, even though mortgage interest rates remain pegged at historically low levels, landing an “affordable” house in Littleton (just as in the rest of the country) can take some doing. Here is one five-step approach that has rewarded house-hunters in the past:

1. Define Affordable House in dollars

The first step to finding an affordable house should be to work out a target budget. The Wall Street Journal currently recommends spending no more than 28% of monthly income on your house). Make sure to include additional fees such as legal fees, repairs, maintenance, and closing costs in your calculation. The bottom line you come up with isn’t one set in stone, but it’s a reasonable goal to have in mind.

2. Set space requirements

Space will be a prime consideration for the entire time you’ll be living in your home. If you are planning on expanding the family in the near future, having a spare room is close to a necessity. If it’s just something that would be nice to have, it’s not a requirement—and recognizing the distinction can be all-important.

3. Balance travel time against housing costs

Often you can offset the purchase price of a home by expanding your search radius to include a reasonable commute. Get out your pencil: you’ll need to compare the savings in the house payment against the additional cost of an extended commute.

4. Include properties that need some TLC

One of the best ways to zero in on an affordable house in Littleton is to keep an eye out for otherwise-eligible “fixer-uppers.” You can avoid any serious structural problems, such as plumbing, electrical, and roof issues, yet still focus on properties that just need a little cosmetic revamp can put you across the affordability finish line.

5. Investigate home buying programs

In a limited number of instances, there are some generally underpublicized home buying programs that might be available. For instance, there is the Good Neighbor Next Door program. For teachers, medical professionals, firefighters, and law enforcement officers looking in revitalization areas, as much as a 50% discount from a HUD-listed property can make a house more than affordable!
Most observers believe residential prices are likely to continue to rise—so it’s not outlandish to suspect that today’s Littleton affordable houses may become less so as time passes. Give me a call if you are thinking of taking advantage of this winter’s bargains in our area.