Denver Area Real Estate Blog

From 'I do' to Sold!

Newlyweds are saying "I do" to each other, and equate to over half of first time home buyers that are also saying "I do" to their dream homes. It makes sense! When you put two hearts together, the time comes to find a home to nourish that love. A home that brings two of your places together, and makes it one. If you and your spouse are ready to fall in love with the perfect house together, here are five tips to make sure the process goes smoothly, and you come prepared.

1. YOUR WEDDING BUDGET: Your wedding is a one-time event that shouldn't be less than what you'd imagine. It's a beautiful time to put all of your dream pieces together. However, it's best to sit down and find out ways you can shift the budget to help with your down payment for a home if you plan to purchase. The average couple spends a little over $20,000 on their wedding. Even a savings of $5000 from your wedding budget can help with owning the perfect home. 

2. WEDDING GIFTS: Wedding bliss comes with wedding gifts. Let's admit, one of our favorite times during the wedding season is all of the gifts that come pouring in! Have any friends or family pitching in cash? Save that to put towards your down payment. And depending on the generosity of your gifts, you can even open an account dedicated to your down payment, that friends and family can gift to. 

3. GET PRE-APPROVED: One of the least brought up conversations in relationships is the credit and financial history of your soon-to-be spouse. Get together with...

Thinking about Buyer a Home in Denver?

The metro Denver real estate market is constantly changing, so of course, DO YOUR RESEARCH! DO NOT jump the gun on this one! Unbiased advice from family and peers may be kind, but you are the only one who knows what your needs are when it comes to buying a home.

WHAT MADE YOU CONSIDER OWNING A HOME?

Forget finances for a minute and focus on what made you consider even buying a home in metro Denver the first place!

·      Is your family expanding?

·      Does your family feel safe?

·      Is there a STELLAR school system in the area so your children can get the education they deserve?

·      How about that unbearable landlord?
 

WHICH WAY IS THE REAL ESTATE MARKET GOING?

DON’T SLEEP ON YOUR DECISION TOO LONG! Home prices are on the rise! Not only are they on their way back up, but these increases are happening monthly.

Don’t believe us? According to Existing Homes Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average price of homes in May 2017 went up 5.8% from last year.

If you wait until next year to buy, you might be scrapping for change in the cushions, to say the least! Not only will it cost you more to buy, but you will also need to increase your down payment to account for the higher price of the home.

 

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The Process: Step 6 of Buying a Home in Denver

Colorado Contract Explained

Below is an overview of the Colorado Commission-approved “Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate”.  Please go to the Denver Real Estate Commission website to review the entire Contract and corresponding updates.  In Colorado, Contracts concerning real property must be in writing to be enforceable.

Once the Contract is executed (signed by all parties and earnest money delivered) any changes to the contract must be in writing, signed by all parties and delivered via “written notice” within the deadlines set forth in the Contract.

The Contract states, “This form has important legal consequences and the parties should consult legal and tax or other counsel before signing.” While Denver custom in buying and selling residential real estate does not typically involve an attorney or other counsel, the Colorado Real Estate Commission mandates that every real estate agent advise Buyers and Sellers to so.

For simplification purposes, the following overview refers to “conventional loans” only.

  • Colorado Contract to Purchase
  • General Overview

Defined Terms

This section identifies how you wish your legal name to appear on the contract and in which way you wish to take the title. Remember that you’ll need to sign exactly as stated in the Contract on all documents from addendums to Closing. The next portion identifies how you wish to take the title with the three choices as joint tenants, tenants in common or “other” which called “tenant severalty” or solely. Finally, the property’s legal description and physical street address are noted.

Dates and Deadlines

This section outlines the deadlines, ranging from the loan application deadline to the inspection objection deadline to the Closing...

The Process: Step 5 of Buying a Home in Denver

Step #5: Customary Buyer Closing Costs

The list below outlines what you can expect in “Closing fees” in the Denver-metro area. These items are in addition to your down payment and include pre-paid items (pro-rated fees paid in advance) and overall expenses.

Amounts are estimates and contingent upon factors such as loan type, square footage, and price of the home.  Your Closing fees will usually amount to 2-3% of the purchase price for pre-paid items and additional expenses. On occasion, and depending on the market conditions and purchase price, a Buyer may also ask the Seller to pay for some of the Closing costs.

Lender Fees

  • Loan Origination Fee – usually amounts to 1% of the purchase price
  • Loan Discount Points – varies with market conditions and each point is 1% of the loan amount
  • Credit Report – $50.00
  • Loan Underwriting Fee – depends on the loan amount
  • Appraisal Fee – starting at about $600.00
  • Mortgage Broker Fee – varies with market conditions
  • Tax Related Service Fee – approximately $100.00
  • Processing Fee – approximately $299.00 

Lender Title Policy – Colorado title insurance calculator

Home Owner’s Association Fees

  • HOA Transfer Fee – Depends on the association(s) 

Title Charges

  • Closing Fee – approximately $450 and usually split between buyer and seller
  • Loan Prep Fees – typically $200.00
  • Notary Fees - $50 is a good estimate

Title Insurance – Colorado title insurance calculator

Government Fees

  • Recording Fees – approximately $100.00
  • City/County Tax Fees – approximately $35.00
  • State Tax Stamps...

The Process: Step 4 of Buying a Home in Denver

Finding Your New Denver Home 

We Can Help!

 As an exclusive Buyer’s agent, I represent YOU in this transaction. Accordingly, I will thoroughly monitor every stage of the process, from finding the perfect home and negotiating the deal to meeting deadlines while under contract and representing you at the Closing table. I am a full-time, highly ethical, dedicated real estate professional who wants to partner with you for a positive home buying experience.

Home Search Process

Initially, we’ll meet in person to define your wants and needs in a home as well as in a neighborhood. I’ll come prepared to do some serious listening! Based on your requirements, I will send you a daily list of homes from the Denver MLS that meet your criteria. Once we find five homes of interest, we’ll visit and compare them. During this time, please share feedback on what you love and don’t love about the homes, as this will greatly assist me in further narrowing down your selection. We will repeat this process until you find your perfect home!?Once you find THE home, I will complete a comprehensive comparative market analysis to assist in determining an offer price. I will then prepare an offer for your review and signature (electronic or physical). Earnest money, typically in the form of a personal check, must accompany the offer as it proves “consideration”.

Click below for all of the steps:

Step #1: Buying a Home in Denver, CO.

Step #2: Buying a Home in Denver, CO.

Step #3: Buying a Home in Denver, CO.

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The Process: Step 3 in Buying a House in Denver

Step 3: Choosing Your Lender

As discussed in “Preparing for Home Ownership”, it is important to complete your loan application early in the buying process so the lender can determine the price, terms, and rates for which you qualify and issue a pre-approval letter. Your lender is also required by Federal Law to provide a “Good Faith Estimate” following the application process.

Be Picky

It is imperative that you choose your lender with care. This is the person you will trust with handling the funding of your home loan-perhaps one of the biggest investments of your life. Please make sure he/she is ethical, conscientious, trustworthy and responsive.

Handling Loan Deadlines

 Here’s the biggest reason we urge you to use a reputable lender: While the lender is not part of the Contract if he/she fails to complete requirements by the loan conditions deadline, you can lose your entire earnest money deposit. In Colorado, the Contract is not conditional on the loan actually funding.

Also, the Colorado Real Estate Commission’s “Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate” Loan Conditions Deadline states, “Contract is conditional upon Buyer determining, in Buyer’s subjective discretion, that the availability, terms, conditions, and cost of such New Loan are satisfactory to the Buyer.” If you (the Buyer) aren’t satisfied with the loan by this deadline, you can walk away from the contract and recover your earnest money deposit as long as you deliver written notice by the deadline. Of course, I will be in constant communication with you and your lender to make sure this deadline is met.

Stay Close to Home 

Pick a licensed lender who is physically located and does business in the Denver Metro-area. This ensures that he/she is familiar with Denver real estate customs and the Colorado Contract to “Buy and Sell Real Estate”....

The Process: Step 2 in Buying a Home in Denver

Home Ownership - You Have to Start Somewhere…

Determine what you can afford. Ballpark: You can generally afford a home equal in value to between 2-3 times your gross income. Your lender can provide details pertaining to your specific situation.

Save for the down payment. Ideally, save 20% of the purchase price to use as your down payment. Additionally, closing costs (i.e., taxes, transfer fees, lender fees, etc.) can average 2-3% of the home purchase price. 

Check your credit. Review your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) to ensure they are factually correct. Immediately make any necessary corrections before meeting with your lender or mortgage broker. You may visit Web sites such as www.annualcreditreport.com to check your credit scores. Keep in mind that your credit score or “FICO score” determines your creditworthiness and the eventual interest rate on your loan. 

Investigate mortgage programs. There are many different loan programs that include options such as 30-year, 20-year or 15-year fixed mortgages; adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs); and government-backed loans such as FHA (www.fha.gov) or VA loans (www.va.gov). FHA loans are insured by the government, require certain minimum standards as defined by the FHA, and typically allow for lower down payments (3-5% of the home price) than conventional loan programs. Spend time thinking about which program makes the most sense for your personality, financial goals, and current financial status.

Get pre-approved and a pre-approval letter in writing. Expect to provide your lender with documents such as (but not limited to):

W-2 forms

Pay stub copies

Bank/credit union account numbers and statements for preceding months

Credit card statements with outstanding balances

Previous addresses for seven years

Copies of brokerage accounts and retirement accounts

Documentation of...

The Process: Step 1 For Buying a Home in Denver

Step #1:  An Overview of the Buying Process

Buying a home, especially if you are relocating from outside of Denver, is an exciting yet sometimes overwhelming process. The information on this site is intended to ease this process through a “one-stop” shopping experience. The Denver neighborhood profiles, combined with the customized neighborhood search features, give you an idea of the “flavor” of the neighborhood as well as the price point in that area.

The additional content in this section, while neither exciting nor exhaustive, will acquaint you with the home buying process in Denver. Furthermore, as your exclusive buyer’s agent**, this is what you can expect from working with an agent from Sage + Sparrow Real Estate.

  • Assist you in finding a home from MLS that meets your needs
  • Schedule, preview, and show these homes
  • Provide a list of ethical, reliable and competitive lenders so you can get pre-qualified
  • Conduct a competitive market analysis of your favorite homes to determine value
  • Construct an advantageous offer with your full input
  • Advocating on your behalf while presenting your offer
  • Continue follow-up and negotiate terms with the listing broker
  • Meet you at the inspection
  • Explain the Colorado real estate contracts and implications
  • Constant communication and coordination with all vendors or agents
  • Provide you with a list of reliable home vendors
  • Watch and inform you of dates and deadlines
  • Review title and closing documents and attend closing to address any last minute issues

** Colorado real estate agents can represent buyer’s as either a “Buyer’s Agent/Broker” or as a “Transaction Broker”. In a nutshell, a Buyer’s Agent has a fiduciary responsibility to advocate on behalf of the Buyer whereas a Transaction Broker simply communicates information between parties....

The Process: Steps 7 & 8 For Selling Your Home in Denver

Step #7: Preparing to Close

About a week prior to the scheduled closing, we will provide the date, time and place of the close. We will also stay in constant contact with the Buyer’s agent to make sure everything is on course for a successful close.

Final Walk-Through

Expect the Buyer to enter the property to complete their final walk-through 1-2 days before the settlement date. This is to ensure that any items that were agreed to be fixed are now in working order as outlined in the contract and that corresponding receipts are readily available (per mutual agreement in the contract).

Settlement Sheet Review and Closing Costs

As soon as I receive a copy of the Settlement Sheet, we will review together to confirm its accuracy per the Contract.

Depending on how the Contract was initially structured and the type of loan (Conventional, FHA, or VA), the Seller might expect to pay for the following:

  • Owner’s Title Policy and Extended Coverage Premiums
  • Existing Loan Payoff(s), i.e. outstanding loan balance
  • Release of Deed of Trust Process Fee(s)
  • Pro-Rated Real Estate Taxes (taxes are paid in arrears in Colorado)
  • Tax Certification
  • Pro-Rated Water and Sewer (this will be held in an escrow account by the title company. You will be refunded any excess amount by mail following the settlement)
  • Real Estate Closing Fee (usually split between Buyer and Seller)
  • Courier Fees
  • HOA Dues Proration, Transfer Fees, and Document Distribution
  • Wire or Cashier’s Fee
  • Escrow Set Up Fees
  • Miscellaneous Recording Fees
  • Listing and selling broker’s commission
  • Home Owners Associations special assessments

Remember, this is a general overview and is subject to various factors, especially the type of loan.

And... Closing Day!

Following the review of the final settlement sheet, (prepared by the Title...

7 Ways to Get Your Home Ready to Sell

Denver residential real estate is hot right now with no imminent signs of changing. When properly priced and in great condition, homes under $400,000 are moving quickly and receiving multiple offers. Even under these conditions, sellers can use this opportunity to maximize profit and limit days on the market with proper preparation.

Here are 7 tips to help prepare sellers to make sure their home is sellable before officially putting it on the market:

1). Repair: Fix any problems you’ve had with your house that you haven’t gotten around to yet!

 Whether it’s a minor or major issue and most certainly if it’s a safety item that needs to be repaired or replaced, it’s better to get it out of the way before the home goes on the market. In the metro-Denver area, roof issues are common, especially following spring and summer hailstorms.  Homeowners are often unaware of the issues until months later. Appointments for insurance adjusters to inspect roofs can take weeks so it’s imperative to address issues prior to listing.   Lending underwriters are unlikely to lend on a property with a bad roof so unless a buyer is paying cash, it is easier to address before it goes to market than when under contract. Additionally, it is a good idea to have the furnace cleaned and serviced, ensure electrical items are to code as well as fix any other safety-related items. Some real estate agents suggest a pre-home inspection, which is usually unnecessary. 

2.) Make it less personal: Remove most of the family pictures, wallpaper, and other personal effects.               This will help prepare you mentally to move on from your current house, and will also make your job easier once it comes time to start showing it. Removing clutter will maximize the perceived space in your home to potential buyers,...

Make These 5 Home Improvements Before You Sell

Considering selling your Denver home?

Selling your home is often a must before finding a new one, and getting top dollar for your current home is what Denver Realtors and homeowners strive for. Even if you are just planning on moving down the road, adding certain upgrades to your home can drastically improve its value. When the upgrade will net you more money in sales than it cost you to do, that’s a positive return on your investment (ROI). Certain upgrades will give you a great ROI, while others are necessary to sell your home in the first place. Here’s a list of some of the improvements that will give you the most bang for your buck:

Basic Maintenance & Replacements: New roofs, siding, cocking, and windows may not seem like flashy upgrades but they are among the most profitable when it comes to increasing resale value. Buyers look for move-in-ready homes that they aren’t going to have to spend a lot of extra money on. When these basic maintenance projects aren’t done, buyers tick dollars off of what they are willing to pay for the home. Knowing that a house has been cared for well and is in good shape is a great selling point. These projects also increase the efficiency of your home, so you can tell your buyers to look forward to lower utility bills. Getting these projects out of the way will provide peace of mind for both you and your buyer.

 Curb Appeal: As cliché as it is, first impressions are absolutely critical. When buyers are searching for a new home, the exterior is their first impression, and it will either get them in the door or send them elsewhere. In the competitive Denver Real Estate market, sellers want to attract every person that drives by and sees the home. As such, you want your home to look as nice on the outside as it does on the inside. You may not be able to change your neighbor’s lime green shutters but you can give your home a fresh coat...

Curb Appeal, Making an Impression

THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF GETTING YOUR HOME READY FOR THE MARKET

Detailed below are seven simple tips to consider while preparing your Metro Denver home for sale. Your relatively modest time and monetary investments will be reflected in your home’s shorter stint on the market and higher selling price.

1) Power Wash the entire outside of your house, including the windows, garage door, and front door. Although homeowners don’t often assess the cleanliness of their home’s exterior, potential buyers certainly do. You will be amazed by how much more appealing your home looks in photos and marketing materials as well as in real life after a thorough power wash. If you don’t own a power washer call Arapahoe Rental at (303)-798-1328, as they typically stock several models to rent.

2) Paint matters. A fresh coat of paint can make your house stand out and show that it has been maintained. Hiring professionals are well worth the money if your house’s exterior is looking shabby. Maybe the trim simply needs a coat of paint to make the house pop. Painting or refreshing the front door is a must. When selecting paint colors for the front door red, black or navy typically work for Colonials, Tudors, Cape Cods, Craftsmen Bungalows, or Denver Four Squares. Shades of beige or terra cotta work on Mediterranean or Mission style homes and bolder and more daring color selections work for Victorians, Italianates, and Mid-Century Modern homes. Finally, don’t forget to polish the address numbers on your house either; it will help buyers remember the address attached to the house they want!

3) Mow your lawn, trim your hedges and trees, add or replace sod, and tend to any flowers during the warm months. Having a neat lawn with properly trimmed foliage will entice buyers into seeing what the interior of your home has to offer. Selling during winter months entails removing snow from driveways, sidewalks, and entryways. Aside from removing liability issues, it will...

Live Near a Park!

Most people move to Denver or the surrounding suburbs because of the outdoor recreational opportunities with the actual home preference as an afterthought. While there are too many parks, hikes or trails to describe in one blog post here is a sampling of metro Denver neighborhoods that are within a short distance to some fabulous parks.

This is just a sampling of metro Denver neighborhoods close to outdoor recreational parks.  There really is a neighborhood for every interest throughout the Front Range.  Call us at 303-489-4035 to find out what area works best for you.

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Do You Need a Loan Pre-Qualification or Pre-Approval to Buy a Home?

Before you begin to shop for a new Denver home, you should set up a time to meet with a lender to figure out how much you can afford. This will put you in a better position as a Denver home buyer. That's when it's important to understand the distinction between being pre-qualified for a loan and pre-approved for a loan. The difference between the two terms will be crucial when you decide to make an offer on a house.

To get pre-qualified for a loan, your lender will collect information about your debt, income, and assets. They'll look at your credit profile and assess goals for a down payment and get an idea of different loan programs that would work for you.  Next, he or she will issue you a pre-qualification letter indicating the amount you are pre-qualified to borrow.

It's important to understand that a pre-qualification letter is just an estimate of what you are eligible to borrow, not a commitment to lend. Getting pre-approved for a loan gives you the competitive advantage when the time comes to bid on a Denver metro home because you have been approved for a loan for a specified amount.

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Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Is Getting a Home Mortgage Still Too Difficult?

Potential homebuyers are always cautioned to be aware of mortgage lending standards and the difficulty they might face when trying to obtain a mortgage. Credit availability is expanding, making it easier to get a mortgage now than it was a year ago. The market is still tight however, and homebuyers should be prepared to shop around until they find a lender who is offering something that will meet the needs of their family.

Mortgage lending companies have high standards so it is important to make sure you and anyone else who will be included on the mortgage have their credit in check. The mortgage market is strict because lenders do not want to be put in a situation where they are forced to repurchase loans that are not paid on. They also do not want to end up in a litigation situation due to loan issues.

What Has Happened to the Number of Mortgages?

Due to the strict nature and requirements of the lending companies, the number of mortgages given out has significantly dropped. A report by the Housing Financial Policy Center at the Urban Institute showed that about 6.3 million fewer mortgages were given out between 2009 and 2015. The reasons behind this statistic are strict regulations and policies. These mortgages would have been granted if the lending standards where more reasonable.

Mortgage companies rely on calculations to determine if a home buyer will become delinquent on their payment. They will not give you a loan if you are too much of a risk for them. Credit history has a huge impact on this decision since lenders can see how often you pay back your debts. The history they receive is extensive. This view into your financial past causes lenders to take less risk when lending to you for your mortgage.

The Effect on the Economy

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Why You Should Consider Selling in the Winter

Selling In Winter Attracts Serious Buyers

The season you sell your home can have an impact on how much you get for your home and how quickly it sells. The season that has the most success in selling homes is spring. This is a good time of year for families moving to new school districts and is also more convenient weather for moving. Because of this trend, most people will recommend waiting to list your home until after the winter is over. Avoiding the winter is a huge misconception in the housing industry and can cause homeowners to miss out on opportunities.

Selling in the winter can give you a few advantages. There will be fewer houses on the market since most people assume winter is a bad time to sell. This gives your home more attention. Potential buyers are always looking no matter the time of year. Keeping your house on the market in the winter might bring the right buyer to your door. Real estate agents also tend to be less busy during these months and commit more time to getting your home sold.

Studies have shown winter buyers are buying because they need to move right away either for a relocation or personal situation. They will want to close quickly and allow for a much smoother sale.

Bottom Line

If you need to sell your home right away, or have some time but want to see what is out there, consider listing in the winter. Most homeowners who are going to sell will list their home in the spring, making for a competitive market. The winter allows buyers who are in a hurry to move consider your home and sell for more money than you would have in the spring.

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Common Things to Look Out for Before Buying Your Dream Home

Common Things to Look Out for Before Buying Your Dream Home

It is easy to become overwhelmed when you enter the home buying market. Friends, family, colleagues, and even acquaintances will give you their opinions if you are a first time home buyer. While most of them are looking out for your best interest, they are not fully aware of what is happening in the housing market.

It is important for you to be prepared and have your own questions ready. No matter what other opinions you are getting, you are the one buying the home and your comfort level will help make your final decision. Here are three important questions to ask before you purchase a home.

1. Why am I Buying a Home?

Regardless of the finances, it is important to think about what made you want to buy a home in the first place. Usually the reasons don’t have to do with money. Instead, home buyers are focused on how the house will impact their family in the future. A study done by the Joint Center for House Studies at Harvard found there are four reasons people buy a home. Those reasons include schools for your children, a safe environment, more room for your family to grow, and control of your own space.

These factors are the most common reasons people look to buy a new home. When you ask yourself why you are looking to purchase a home, do any of those factors come up? Spend time with your spouse or family members who are involved in this decision and determine why you want a home in the first place. Creating this list will help when searching for a home and can help your real estate agent find the best home for your needs.

2. What is the Trend with Home Values?

Our current economy and housing market is strong. That means home values and mortgage rates are increasing. If you are...

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

Will Increasing Mortgage Rates Impact Home Prices?

There has been some discussion recently on home prices in relation to mortgage rates. Some believe if there is a rapid rise of mortgage rates, home prices should decrease. Logically it makes the most sense for the price of the house to drop when interest rates are rising, but this is not always the case.

This theory of home prices decreasing is typically discussed by future home buyers. As a buyer you would like to think if you are paying higher rates on your mortgage, you should be able to see a decrease in cost somewhere else. Unfortunately, these rates are rising because the economy is in better shape. As the economy succeeds, incomes rise, rates go up, as well as the price of the home.

A recent study by the John Burns Real Estate Consulting found mortgage rates have very little impact on the cost of the home. The housing market and price increases are affected by things like job growth in the area and rising wages. Coincidentally, these same factors are causing the rise in the mortgage rates since people can afford to take out more.

Bottom Line

As the economy progresses and strengthens, mortgage rates and home prices will fluctuate. It is a misconception as rates increase, home prices will decrease. Advances in the economy have shown that rates and home prices are more likely to increase together.

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