Who moved the goalpost?
It’s pretty clear that finding a HOUSE was at the heart of the real estate business not so many years ago. These days, it appears that goalpost has moved. Good. Why good? Because, at least from what I’ve seen, today’s more educated buyers are seeking a HOME. They know that finding the ideal place we call home is definitely not the same thing as using the Internet to locate four walls and a roof on a lot somewhere. Home is clearly more than a structure; it is a feeling and a sensibility. Defining what that looks like becomes a lot easier when partnering with me: an experienced, professional Colorado Realtor. There’s nothing like having an expert by your side, eliminating confusion and streamlining the process. I bring a suite of skills to bear: extensive knowledge of communities/areas, building technology, negotiation, contracts, evaluating a prospective home before making an offer, and more. Another thing I’ve gotten pretty good at is presenting all of that information in everyday language, ever mindful of you, the busy Colorado Springs and Denver buyer.
Finding a “house” is so yesterday
I’ll agree that the growth of online sites has made finding a house easier. After looking at all the pictures and stats, a person might inch closer, even driving through a couple areas or pulling a tax record. Smart. But I’ve heard time and time again that when home shoppers actually begin to envision making a place they saw online into their Colorado Springs or Denver HOME, important questions seem to pop up. These questions are normal, worthy of exploring, and they almost always encompass many areas. These include: realizing that it’s almost essential to see other houses for comparison, ensuring that a particular house is not going to be a turkey and cost a ton to own, and most importantly, whether or not the buyer would even enjoy living in the community the house happens to be part of. Those questions are just the tip of the iceberg. This is when you should call me. After a painless and no-obligation phone chat, I can quickly set up a private and customized web search portal for you that will completely blow the doors off of anything you’ll find on Zillow, Trulia or even Realtor.com. It works on cell phones, tablets, you name it. You can share with me all the listings you love, like or even discard. We can also make online comments back and forth on specific homes. Finally, this list can become the “view list” for our first trip out together.
Even Savvy People Can Miss The Most Important Things
Earlier in my career, I represented some of the best builders in the country working as an on-site listing agent. One of the most common things I heard from visitors looking at our homes was this: “We wish we would have put a lot more work into considering the big picture instead of just focusing on the house. We don’t mind our house, it’s ok. Everything else is the problem. ” So, I started asking these guests, “Did you have a Realtor?” 90% of the time they said either “No, we just walked into a sales center.” Others would say, “Yes, we had an agent, but found out only later that he/she had limited knowledge of other areas that would have suited us much better, so we did not see them.” These are not my words, but the repeated and honest observations of a former on-site builder sales consultant.
I remember thinking back then, “Eventually when I leave on-site sales, what can I do to protect my future homebuyer clients from this frustrating complaint?” As a result, I developed a deeper sales philosophy that I call Outcome Based Real Estate. (Please see Overview section) Without getting into needless details, the goal of this Outcome Based view is elegantly simple. If we encounter each other in public a few years after you bought a home with me, what will that meeting be like? Will we both want to quickly walk the other way pretending we didn’t see each other, or will we be excited to shake hands or embrace as we begin conversing? So, how’s that working out? Well, since I left new home sales in 2014, I’ve had the privilege of working with hundreds of home buyers and sellers. I can’t think of a single time when I haven’t been thrilled to see my former clients or them to see me. This is true whether in person or I’m calling them just to say hello.
My Colorado relocation clients consistently provide highly positive feedback on their experiences in working with me. This makes sense, because I relocated here myself eight years ago, and that “epic journey” remains fresh on my mind. I know the endless details and stressors that are involved in a cross-country move, especially one where a family is pulling up deep roots to make a move they believe to be worthwhile. I am a great relocation agent for additional reasons. I have applied myself and I fully understand both the Colorado lifestyle plus the real estate markets within those areas. Finally, I know best how to tailor the CAN principle to provide the greatest benefit to my relocation clients.
The C-A-N Principle. This is somewhat simplified, but studies have said for years that the happiest homebuyers first considered the “C” or CITY. Then they weigh the “A” which is AREA, followed by ‘N” for NEIGHBORHOOD. People who are relocating are no different, and share the need to generally follow this principle, except at greater complexity. 1. They are often here in Colorado Springs or Denver only sporadically as they wrap up jobs and moving details in other places. 2. It is usually important to identify more than one target city for evaluation, thereby giving us alternatives in case one is ruled out during a visit. 3. Areas and neighborhoods here may be considerably different in many ways from what they are used to, so I work very hard to uncover and talk about those differences, (as well as differences in home designs, taxes, and a hundred other things, but I digress. ) We often start our relationship out with many conversations on the phone, before we ever meet in person. Because they are relying heavily on me and in order to be as effective as possible, I must employ strong communication skills and impeccable objectivity. Fortunately, many have told me that I offer these skills in abundance. While there is a lot more on this topic, at least this primer provides a snapshot of just a few aspects of my use of CAN.
More markets and more knowledge. As one of only a few agents who regularly work both Denver and Colorado Springs, I give all of my clients an unbiased evaluation of two major markets they may choose to call home – three if we count Castle Rock, a market in its own right. Add to that the dozens of areas within those three major markets, and you have access to a treasure trove with me. Just please know that I don’t flood my customers with a fire hose of impressive but mostly useless “board of commerce” style facts and data available to anyone on the internet. Instead, and in order to determine what information will be most useful, I ask lots of questions and begin with the larger picture, then zoom in to the closer view, getting your thoughts and preferences all the way. I like to make a few initial recommendations of city, area and neighborhood for my client to research. The next time we talk, I get the feedback from the previous conversation, weigh it carefully and make more suggestions and eventually hone in naturally and organically on our target places of interest. We visit these target areas on their first trip to town, and while looking at homes may be a part of that, the areas are actually the focus of that visit. They sleep on it, and we start again the next trip out, and drill down to start drawing conclusions. Each relocation client is different, and each has a different time frame, budget, and set of needs. Schools to golf courses, horse properties to condos. Most of all, I am honored to serve each and every one!
Homes For Sale
Here are just a few quick starter searches for the Colorado Springs Market. It is super easy to change them over to Denver listings with one click of a button. Or customize these searches to your hearts content including exact dollars, bedroom count, horse properties on acreage and way more. It’s all about choices, and my site strives to give you all the options.
Unless you are an all-cash buyer, speaking with a lender very early in the process is just about the smartest thing you can do for many reasons. Knowing your credit situation, loan programs, rates and payments directly relates to how much house you should be shopping for, so yes, it is a crucial piece. I have several lenders I refer simply because they offer a strong value to my clients, I have seen them perform over and over, and I trust them. Please also know that I accept no payments or commissions from any lender I refer.
Overall, the main choices in mortgage lending are large national banks, mortgage companies and mortgage brokers. Other options are credit unions and regional banks. Give me a call and we can quickly go over the differences and advantages of each. There are pre-qualifications as well as pre-approvals. They aren’t the same thing, though they are related.
Home warranties are usually a very good value for homes older than eight to ten years. The typical cost is under $500 for a twelve-month policy. Having coverage is a pretty big stress reducer, so plenty of owners decide to renew them annually. The best way to look at home warranties is that they are great at helping to level out costs you will probably encounter eventually. Is it likely your HVAC and water heater will go out within a ten-year period, assuming the home is fifteen years old? Absolutely. Let’s say 10 years of coverage runs $5,000. That number ends up working out amazingly close to the cost of a water heater and furnace, and that’s assuming nothing else gives up the ghost in the same period.
Working with active adults is an important aspect of my business. Starting with the fact that you won’t hear me say “senior citizen” very often, if ever – not so much because the phrase is outdated, but because it is inaccurate for the clients that I’ve had the privilege of serving. This group of real estate consumers are quite often younger at heart than folks from other age groups. They are involved in so much in their lives, are frequently very healthy, and do everything from mountain biking to world travel.
There is not a set property type or even lifestyle to describe active adults. Their personal needs—and therefore their real estate goals—are often more-wide ranging than perhaps any other group of clients. Sure, I know all about the offerings in age restricted and assisted living communities in Colorado Springs and Denver, but you won’t hear me lead the conversation with these, because frankly, that would be making a rookie assumption. I really can say from actual observation: 60 is the new 40. I even have sold large ranch style homes on good sized lots to people in their 70’s, still fully able to care for the house and yard. So if you want an agent who starts out with questions about you and how you actually live, and does not pigeon-hole or stereotype anything, look no further.
One of the most rewarding kinds of customers in my business is the first-time home buyer. The couple on my home page testimonial were first-time buyers. They had one fantastic young son already. The wife was pregnant as we looked at homes, her husband worked in a new industry as a successful, aspiring manager. Two years later, I still reflect fondly on helping them find and purchase the right first home.
Working with my first-time purchasers differs somewhat from that of other transactions. My role becomes that of intuitive counsellor, always looking for areas that might cause stress or uncertainty. The other thing I really enjoy here is finding fun ways to explain all the minutiae of modern real estate while covering all the needed facts. I like to create a sense of the experience as the most enjoyable class you ever had in school, combined with one of life’s big decisions. And like so many of life’s big decisions, this one of homeownership puts you in a much better position from which to control your personal destiny. Clearly, homeownership should be entered into with caution, knowledge, good planning and an agent who really cares about the current and future quality of your life. If you share this philosophy, I’m your guy!
Escrow and Closing Costs
What is escrow in Colorado? Some states refer to escrow as the physical act of closing. In those areas, closing companies may even be referred to as escrow companies. Other states have a lawyer or lawyers present at closing to represent some or all of the parties. Colorado is different than those and is what we call a “title state.” Here, licensed title companies tend to handle most residential real estate closings, and they do the job well. Title companies are essentially neutral parties that ensure the integrity of the funds and that the transfer of property is executed precisely and lawfully. They examine and administer all parts of the sale including title, liens, purchase contract, loan, conditions, federal/state/local laws, and more. Most title companies also sell title insurance as an ancillary business. State law requires that your title company informs you that you do not have to purchase title insurance via them, even if you are closing there. Compared to other approaches, the Colorado title process is among the lower cost closing methods.
Back to the word escrow. In this state, the word mainly refers to a type of mortgage with an attached escrow account that is allowed to collect funds from your monthly payments, and then disperse funds to cover things for you such as homeowners’ insurance premiums or property taxes. Back in the day this practice was called a “budget mortgage.” Another use of the word escrow in Colorado would be when a loan does not fund on the day it was supposed to, despite everyone’s best efforts. The parties still may be allowed to show up and sign all the paperwork as normal, but all the documents and checks are held “in escrow” until actual loan funding occurs. This is also known as a “dry closing.” Escrow can also be used to describe funds set aside in a designated and regulated account to do some future specific thing. Example, “According to the contract, we’re setting a predefined amount of funds aside and placing them into escrow to pay for the buyer’s landscaping in the spring.”
Closing Costs, a catch-all phrase?
In my opinion, the phrase “closing costs” has become an encompassing term whose meaning has become a little muddled over time. We sometimes hear it used to describe almost any cost needed to close a home sale. While I probably need to write a complete piece or two just on this, let’s see if I can take a whack at covering the basics. You will see pretty quickly that the phrase closing costs is sometimes used to lump many different types of items together. Not all of these costs apply to all types of purchases. An all-cash sale would not require several of these. As for a Veterans Administration (VA) loan, the borrower is not allowed to pay some of these fees and is even allowed to finance others. Also, please note my intent is not to be exhaustive or even technical, rather simply to offer a primer for further discussion.
Lender examples: Fees such as origination fees for a loan. Fees to buy down interest rates. Other mortgage broker fees or charges. Credit Report. Appraisal fee. Application fee. (These fees can really add up, but remember, not all lenders charge all these fees. In fact, I have chosen my lender partners because they can often waive or offset some of them.)
Closing company examples: Transaction fees relating to transfer of title and actual closing. Express delivery of checks or documents. Wire transfer fees. (None of these amount to more than a couple hundred dollars in most scenarios.)
Title insurance examples: Lenders title insurance policy (mandatory if you have a loan.) Buyers title insurance policy (yes, two different policies.) Owners extended title coverage (Example prices per policy might run around $950 on a typical $325K home/ per policy. One time charge at closing.) ($50 to $150 might be typical to buy the extended title coverage)
Buyer costs or seller credits: Examples; Prorated items such as remaining property tax due for the year on a property or HOA and/or association dues. (X dollars for x months placed in escrow as a reserve for taxes and insurance.)
VA Funding fee: Expensive, but the good news is that the VA allows this and other closing costs to be financed into the loan. Hence the phrase “zero-down VA Loan.”
Other government-backed loans or programs: these can contain various fees. Also often require fees for mortgage insurance. Could be one-time payment or first few payments if paying monthly.
Down Payment: Not what anyone I know would call a closing cost, but the buyer does bring it to closing.