Today’s Brave New World of Englewood Real Estate Marketing

In Englewood real estate as in many other businesses, successfully drawing the public’s attention, then communicating value, are what separate can-do practitioners from the pack. It’s pigeonholed under “marketing” instead of “selling” because the latter sounds more like a one-on-one activity, whereas “marketing” depicts the kind of effort that goes out to the world at large.

The past couple of decades have produced sea changes in the way Englewood real estate brokers and agents need to approach their marketing approach. It’s not just the way all the advertising and communications media have been transformed; it’s also the expectations of the people they are intended to reach—the buyers. When a homeowner intends to put his home up for sale, one way to insure success is to be aware of the elements that make up any marketing plan designed to take advantage of today’s 2015 Englewood real estate marketplace.

  • Technology is at the forefront of good marketing, and today’s Realtors® can choose to put it to their clients’ advantage. A responsive website, striking visuals, good content, and specific details to accompany their business cards, brochures, and other traditional marketing materials build more than their own brand—they launch every client’s Englewood real estate listing across the virtual Universe!
  • Today’s real estate market rewards creativity more than was hitherto the norm. Because the web has made so much information so accessible, having a knack for standing apart from the crowd is more important than ever. Using techniques to attract attention is the first step in guaranteeing marketing success, so understanding search engine optimization (and using that knowledge regularly) is vital. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I make sure to post this blog regularly!
  • A social media presence is a must for anyone conducting real estate in Englewood —and it just so happens that it’s the perfect venue for Realtors® to shine. It’s a very personal (well, not quite an in-the-flesh handshake—but as personal as electronics allow!) way to expand networks and engage people in a diverse cross section of prospective audiences.
  • Using electronic and social media is part of the story, but monitoring their effectiveness (“the metrics”) is a necessity to track how well they are working. By tracking this information and using the results to take advantage of what works best, every Englewood real estate client shares in maximizing their listing’s exposure.

Effective real estate marketing uses ongoing research—and the strategy and energetic tactics that reach out to take advantage of the whole spectrum of today’s communication resources.

If you are thinking of listing your own home, I hope you’ll give me a call to see all that I can do for you!

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!

Forming an Effective Team Puts Your Littleton Agent to Work

1-21-agent-300x300One of the most effective ways to maximize your chances of achieving the best residential real estate deal possible lies in your ability to partner effectively with your choice of Littleton real estate agent. Your agent is your local guide through the complexities of Littleton’s market—your assistant, tutor, and trusted right arm in the enterprise of buying and selling a residence. It’s your Littleton agent’s job to make the team an effective one—but for all parts to truly work as a unit, some basic elements should be in place…and clearly understood by everyone:

For prospective buyers, when your real estate agent fully understands your search criteria, the end product is a more focused search that yields the intended results most efficiently. It will conserve an under-appreciated asset (your patience)—and free your schedule by eliminating properties that aren’t right for you. Shopping for a home can lead to a bewildering jumble of options. Simply searching online for properties, or driving around likely neighborhood choices looking for “For Sale” signs is an inefficient and time-consuming stratagem. What’s more, tapping into a Littleton agent’s comprehensive understanding of the market—past and present—makes you much more likely to unearth the best value/price offerings as they become available.

For those who are selling a Littleton home, an experienced agent wades through less-than-serious inquisitors, keeping you from getting bogged down with fruitless showings or unreasonable offers.

A move into an unfamiliar area comes with a certain level of risk. A trusted agent equips you with the insights you would otherwise be missing. It can mean the difference between landing your dream property and buying into a subpar situation—one you might regret for years. You only need imagine buying a home in the warmer months only to be blind-sided when access becomes iffy during the rainy season. An agent will have a more complete understanding of the benefits and disadvantages of all of Littleton’s neighborhoods—as well as the ability to help you make an informed choice, irrespective of when you are available or ready to buy.

Establishing a candid relationship with your Littleton real estate agent will not only afford you a buying or selling experience that’s as untroubled as possible, it will also provide you with a resident’s comprehensive knowledge of all the local factors long-time residents take for granted. Buying or selling, I hope you will consider giving me a call for a no-obligation chat about the current market!

Nightline says Reality TV House Flipping isn’t Realistic

1-14-houseflip-300x122ABC’s Nightline recently aired an interesting segment about house flipping, which included a magic number that’s probably never been seen before. Littleton house flippers would have been glued to their TVs if they’d stayed up late enough to catch Nightline, because if authentically magical, it’s a good number to know.

The segment was part of a series called “Realty Check.” This one was about new strategies in the “ever-competitive world of flipping.” The show started with some background about how expensive house flipping can be if it’s done in a hurry and on the cheap. Just slapping a coat of paint on the walls can result in an investment that languishes on the market, often until the asking price is reduced to an unprofitable level. The narrator stated that in the past, house flipping was often approached with the idea that the sooner a renovation could be completed, the better: “Get in, get out, move on.” We were shown how TV series like Flip It to Win It, Flipping Vegas, Rehab Addict, and Flip or Flop turned rehab projects into races against the clock: exciting drama for TV, maybe, but not necessarily a profitable real estate investment strategy in today’s market.

Nightline interviewed one new house flipping Phenom with 28 successful house flips to her credit. She says that “I call reality TV unrealistic.” She considers that the goal should be to produce a quality result—a house that’s “the best in the neighborhood.” That may take months rather than weeks, particularly if you want to avoid blowing your budget. Time, plus meticulous attention to detail, good taste—and a magic number.

It’s the magic number that has to interest anyone contemplating some Littleton house flipping of their own. It comes from an expert: RealtyTrac’s VP Daren Blomquist, who posited that the data reveal that “the more you put into a property, the more return you get.” Even if it takes half a year. But the amount you should budget only “Up until this magic number which is 23%.”

The magic number? It’s 23%. The goal is to make the final product the best in the neighborhood, so that a buyer coming into the neighborhood sees it as “their first choice.”

That’s a pretty tall order around here. Littleton has some fairly steep competition for best in the neighborhood. And six months between buying a property and being able to put it back on the market could seem like an awfully leisurely use of investment capital.

Without judging whether it’s truly magic or not, there is that 23% number. What was never explained was whether the magic number was meant to be 23% of the asking price, 23% of the purchased price, 23% of purchase plus rehab costs…or 23% of something else. Still—it’s nice to know there is a magic number.

If you have been thinking of undertaking some house flipping in Littleton, or even readying your own property for the market as-is (23% of $0 is $0); the New Year should be a great time to get going. Give me a call!

 

Why a Littleton ‘Short Sale’ Can Take a Long Time

1-14-shortsale-300x294The term “short sale” has been misleading people for decades. Despite the name, it’s a term applied to transactions that often involve a lengthier-than-usual sale process. A Littleton “short sale” is named for the financial aspect of a sale rather than the length of time it requires. It’s anything but a shortcut.

The ‘short’ in ‘short sale’ describes a sale at a price that comes up short—is less than the full amount owed on a Littleton home loan. As you’d guess, whether a bank (or any mortgage holder) accepts such a sale is a decision that is up to the lender.

Why would a bank choose to move ahead with a short sale instead of holding out for the full amount? After all, if a borrower is unable to pay, it’s hardly the bank’s fault. You might think that it is always in the bank’s interest to hold out for full repayment, and to take possession of a mortgaged property whenever that doesn’t happen…but in reality, that’s often not true. In the real world, the bank will lose money on either a short sale or a foreclosure—but the latter is often more expensive, since it requires the bank to do the expensive work of repossessing and selling the property.

To a distressed homeowner, a short sale is an opportunity to close accounts on better terms. Instead of weathering a foreclosure, which would result in a major strike against his or her credit record, if the bank will agree, it becomes a joint resolution between the debtor and bank—and that doesn’t just sound more amicable. But getting the lender’s approval is where the delay issue usually crops up. The steps needed before the mortgagee and the bank agree to sell the home at the lower price vary. They can involve submitting a buyer’s discounted offer, or the borrower convincing the bank that a short sale is warranted—usually after following procedures spelled by the bank. The bank can (and usually will) reject a short sale proposal or offer if it feels more money can be gained by foreclosing. And it can take a while…

It may sound like a happy solution for homeowners with financial problems, but among other drawbacks (for instance, there can be tax issues), the “a while” it takes to close a Littleton short sale can be between five and seven months! Yet for patient (or even better, very patient) buyers and sellers, a successful Littleton short sale can yield the best of a bad situation and an unmatched bargain.

There are endless variations for how any given short sale can proceed, so having an experienced Realtor® in your corner is always a good idea…and calling me is the way to start!

Englewood Homes for Sale Use Staging to Set the Mood

12-24-staging-300x225When you think about the importance of staging when a Englewood home goes on the market, you might relate it to how department stores go about increasing sales during the holidays. You have only to stroll through the front door of any of the legendary department stores this time of year to experience what I mean: the most successful ones fairly assault your senses with the color, glitter, sounds (sometimes even the scents!) of the season. If you’ve ever strolled down 5th Avenue in Manhattan any time after Thanksgiving, you’ll have experienced a major jaw-dropping tourist attraction. It seems like the whole place is staged—and masterfully, at that!

Why so many veteran merchants put that kind of effort (and budget) into holiday decorating is proof of how cost-effective staging is for merchandising. It’s not that different when a home is being prepared to be offered to the public. Effective staging for a Englewood property performs the same function that Macy’s and Neiman Marcus hope to achieve: to indirectly alter their visitor’s mood to one more receptive to the designer’s goal. Department store holiday décor is more than just eye-candy created to instill a jolly mood. By transporting us into the spirit of the season, it gently cues us into recreating how we feel at the moment of gift-giving (i.e., generous gift giving!). Sometimes that might take 50 or more fully-decorated Christmas trees—all for the sole purpose of creating an atmosphere that Scrooge himself couldn’t resist!

In the same way, staging a Englewood home effectively can put prospective buyers into in a receptive frame of mind. The goal is to create an instant impression that does two things.

First, it immediately establishes trust. By presenting a well-designed and smartly maintained environment, it acts to dispel one major element of buyer resistance—the fear of the unknown, which in the case of a Englewood home sale translates into lurking suspicions about the condition of “somebody else’s” house. Good staging envelops visitors in spaces that just feel substantial.

Second (just as important), staging a Englewood home effectively creates a welcoming feeling. If visitors feel comfortable—at ease enough that they can easily picture themselves at home there—they are much more likely to consider the next steps. Not every home can appeal to every prospective buyer, of course, but good staging does away with idiosyncratic artifacts that would narrow the field.

National studies show time and again that, staged correctly, homes are more likely to garner higher offers—and more quickly. Of course, staging is only one step in the process of listing and selling a home, and it isn’t even the first: that one is giving me a call!

Littleton Home Sales during the Holidays Happen for a Reason

12-24-holidaysale-300x235Okay, granted: a new family home won’t fit under the tree…

This year, Littleton TVs have been filled with commercials that mix Santa with new automobiles. If you believe the ads, a number of automakers apparently offer models that will fly like reindeer onto driveways for big boys and girls who are sufficiently nice. One do-gooder is portrayed stitching up Santa’s ripped tunic in an act of selfless un-naughtiness that earns him a new sedan on the big day.

I’m pleased to say we haven’t seen a National Association of Realtors® commercial with Santa and elves flying a new home onto a surprised family’s driveway, but the idea is no more divorced from reality than Santa’s barnful of vintage Mercedes (it looks like he loves the red gullwing best). If you’ve never thought about shopping for a home during the year-end holiday season, you might be surprised to consider that in some cases this is a very fortuitous time of year for home sales. Aside from the few who can actually give such a fantastic gift (it actually happens!), there are a couple of other reasons why holiday Littleton home sales do take place:

Lower Prices

First of all, nothing typifies the holiday spirit quite like the spirit of generosity—and at this time of year, there are some Littleton home sellers who are predisposed to be more generous than usual. The possibility of their accepting lower offers doesn’t necessarily owe to holiday altruism decking their halls. Fewer visits and fewer offers are made over the holidays, while at the same time there are a number of circumstances that could materially benefit sellers who can close out the Old and usher in the New before calendar year’s end. In some cases, as Forbes points out, home sales may be a matter of the seller wanting to complete the transaction before year’s end for tax purposes—or simply to get the sale out of the way.

Favorable Rates

When you buy in part determines how much you’ll pay, and the waning days of 2014 still offer historically low home loan interest rates. Whether home sales in Littleton during the coming year will long be able to boast the same advantage is a matter of conjecture, but certainly this is one year when beneficial rates are in place. Last-minute year-end shoppers may reap a happier holiday if they’ve locked in the kind of rates currently available.

Asking Santa for a new home may sound like a bit of an overreach, but for those who make this year’s holiday buying benefits work in their favor, it can be a most memorable season! And for the rest of us who will be leaving a chocolate chip cookie and milk by the fireplace…it couldn’t hurt, could it?

 

Lease-Option: a Littleton Rental Investment Owner’s Alternative

12-10-leaseSuppose your Realtor® helped you land a prime Littleton rental investment property—and you’ve been more than content with the result. Your longtime tenant proved to be conscientious and dependable, with resulting passive income that has been quietly building your bank account with very little oversight from you. In short, your Littleton rental investment has made you a very happy landlord.

But now, that smooth sailing may be nearing an end.

Your tenant rings you up with the news. Even though she loves the house, over Thanksgiving dinner her brother convinced her she should become a Littleton homeowner herself. Since she doesn’t have quite enough cash to qualify for a home loan, he told her she should go out and find a rent-to own property. But since she’s content with the house she’s been living in—your rental investment—she wonders if you’d like to discuss switching to a lease-option arrangement?

If you had ever contemplated cashing in on your rental investment, there are several reasons you might want to give it some thought. First, this would spare you the effort and expense of selling. You won’t have to wait for an interested buyer—and you know from experience that your tenant is a solid citizen. Furthermore, whenever you put a rental investment property up for sale, there can be complications if you want to continue to rent it—sometimes a tenant resents having to accommodate strangers tramping through their home. Worse, they may even subtly sabotage showings.

Although there is no single formula for how a lease-option (aka ‘rent-to-own’) agreement is constructed, some basic underpinnings are common. The landlord retains ownership and the tenant pays rent until the option to buy is exercised. Both agree on the sale price and on the specified period of time by which the sale must be completed (usually the time the tenant estimates will be needed to qualify for a mortgage). As compensation for your agreement to refrain from selling the property to anyone else during this option period, the tenant usually pays either an up-front fee or agrees to a higher-than-market rent. Some of that overage may be set aside to be applied to the ultimate purchase. Property maintenance is often made the responsibility of the tenant, along with provisions in case he or she fails to maintain it properly. And a number of other issues may be addressed.

But if the tenant does not exercise the option to buy within the specified timeframe, typically no refund is owed—the option lapses, and since the deed has always remained with the investment property owner, it becomes free to be rented or sold to another party…that is, if all local and state laws have been scrupulously observed—and all other conditions met. In other words, if ever there were an agreement that cried out for a trusted lawyer’s oversight, this is it!

Offering a lease option on your rental investment in Littleton is just one possibility when you’ve landed a choice property (which is where I come in). If you’re considering selling your Littleton investment property and would prefer a more traditional route, call me today!

What Improvements Add the Most Real Estate Value?

12-10-valuebooster-277x300“The best real estate value in Englewood!” is certainly a little bit over-the-top when it’s used in a listing, but in truth, that’s pretty much what most prospective homebuyers in every price range actually hope to find. For homeowners planning to list their own Englewood homes, it’s good to keep in mind. When home improvement projects are going to be part of the preparations, adding real estate value without inflating the asking price is a goal worth pursuing.

Since there are so many improvements that could add to a Englewood property’s real estate value, comparing how they have fared recently when it comes to the bottom line is worth doing.

The Home Office: Myth?

Home office conversions haven’t appeared near the top of major Return On Investment (ROI) analysis lists for very long, so their performance is ambiguous. According to the yearly “Cost vs. Value Report” by Remodeling magazine, home office remodel projects don’t even break the 50% ROI mark. That’s a precipitous fall from earlier projections. I would guess the reason is that the analysts pegged the average cost at $28,000—but with the proliferation of laptops, tablets, and home Wi-Fi, why should a home office cost that much? (As a side note, it’s probably a reasonable guess that the same technological progress has incrementally lessened consumer demand for designated home offices).

Cost Matters in the Kitchen

The kitchen remodel is what most people picture when they think of big home improvement projects, and rightly so. But it’s here that planning pays off: not all kitchen upgrades register as equally good real estate value boosters. The kitchen is already the most complex room in your home, and it’s also a place where you can spend a fortune on fancy appliances and sleek cabinet replacements. The numbers don’t lie: when it comes to kitchens, your best ROI comes through limited budget-conscious projects. Leaders in cost recouping: new sinks, replacement counters, and highly targeted improvements like backsplashes.

Energy-Saving Doors = High Value

Replacing the front door with an attractive, energy-saving variety remains the top dollar-for-dollar investment. It makes sense when you remember how important curb appeal is. A properly insulated and sealed door will also save money by cutting down heating and cooling bills—savings that show up in utility bill receipts when you’re queried on the cost of running your home.

Before you hit the hardware store or call a contractor, remember that maximizing the real estate value return is the ultimate goal. Some home improvement projects won’t add as much value as one might assume, which is why I keep an eye on the latest cost vs. value reports—and share them with my clients!

The Holidays: Once-a-Year Opportunity for Selling a Englewood Home

12-3-holiday-300x252I’m always a little surprised that more people don’t take advantage of the holiday season to sell their Englewood home. The spring selling season may be the most popular, but there are a host of reasons why, for a home that is already market-ready, you might think twice about waiting to list it.

Among the leading reasons that make this an especially advantageous time of year to sell an Englewood home is the financial motivation for some prospective buyers. Especially when an individual’s financial picture changes toward year’s end, a few prospective buyers find that the tax advantages of a purchase in the current year are reason enough to speed a sudden purchase. Classical supply and demand forces add another reason the decision to sell a home in Englewood now could be a good one. Since Englewood listing volumes taper off toward the end of the year, the choices are relatively few, increasing the value of each to motivated buyers.

Experience tells us that the average holiday-season buyer does tend to be more highly motivated, if for no other reason than that they are choosing to house hunt over all the other activities the season calls for. In short, this is not the season for lookyloos. There is also the advantage that holiday decorations add. The emotional appeal of a well done (not overdone!) display can augment a Englewood home’s underlying curb appeal. Add to that the fact that all of us tend to be a bit more emotional during the holidays, and it wouldn’t be surprising to find buyers more flexible in what they are willing to bid. As every merchant has come to realize, the holidays are shopping days.

For those who will be traveling for the holidays, rather than that being a reason to put off listing, those days can be ideal times to sell your Englewood home. The house will be unoccupied, clean and available for showings at any time of day—the perfect situation for turning the otherwise slow holiday season into a standout to those buyers who need a home now.

I will be working throughout, so give me a call if selling your Englewood house is an idea that makes good sense. The more available you make your home during the holidays, the more likely you’ll find a buyer during this hectic time of year.