How to Avoid the Most Common Buying/Selling Mistakes

Posted in Buying and Selling by Tara Sharp

How to Avoid the Most Common Buying/Selling Mistakes

There’s nothing more exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling than buying a home. However, it’s a complex transaction, and there are a number of steps along the path that can confuse, betwixt, and befuddle even the most seasoned buyers and sellers.

How can you avoid those potential pitfalls and common mistakes? Look to your real estate professional for advice and keep these guidelines in mind:

BUYERS:

#1 Review your credit reports ahead of time

Review your credit report a few months before you begin your house hunt, and you’ll have time to ensure the facts are correct, and be able to dispute mistakes before a mortgage lender checks your credit. Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Why all three? Because, if the scores differ, the bank will typically use the lowest one. Alert the credit bureaus if you see any mistakes, fix any problems you discover, and don’t apply for any new credit until after your home loan closes.

#2 Get pre-approved

Before getting serious about your hunt for a new house, you’ll want to choose a lender and get pre-approved for a mortgage (not just pre-qualified—which is a cursory review of your finances—but pre-approved for a loan of a specific amount). Pre-approval lets sellers know you’re serious. Most importantly, pre-approval will help you determine exactly how much you can comfortably afford to spend.

#3 Know what you want

You and your real estate agent should both be clear about the house you want to buy. Put it in writing. First, make a list of all the features and amenities you really want. Then, number each item and prioritize them. Now, divide the list into must-haves and really-wants. A good place to start is the “HUD Wish List,” which is available online for free at http://www.hud.gov/buying/wishlist.pdf

#4 Account for hidden costs

In addition to the purchase price of the home, there are additional costs you need to take into consideration, such as closing costs, appraisal fees, and escrow fees. Once you find a prospective home, you’ll want to:

  • Get estimates for any repairs or remodeling it may need.
  • Estimate how much it will cost to maintain (gas, electric, utilities, etc.).
  • Determine how much you’ll pay in taxes monthly and/or annually.
  • Learn whether there are any homeowner or development dues associated with the property.

#5 Get an inspection

Buying a home is emotionally charged—which can make it difficult for buyers to see the house for what it truly is. That’s why you need impartial third parties who can help you logically analyze the condition of the property. Your agent is there to advise you, but you also need a home inspector to assess any hidden flaws, structural damage or faulty systems.

#6 Evaluate the neighborhood and location

When house hunting, it’s easy to become overly focused on the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the condition of the home and its amenities while overlooking the subtleties of the surrounding neighborhood. Take time to check crime reports, school options, churches and shopping. If schools are a key factor, do more than simply research the statistics; speak with the principal(s) and chat with the parents waiting outside.

SELLERS:

#1 Avoid becoming emotional or sentimental about the sale

Once you decide to sell your house, it’s time to strip out the emotion and look at it as a commodity in a business transaction. If you start reminiscing about all the good times you had and the hard work you invested, it will only make it that much harder to successfully price, prepare, and market the home.

#2 Fix problems (or price accordingly)

Homes with deferred maintenance and repair issues can take far longer to sell and can be subject to last-minute sale-cancellations. These homes also often sell for less than their legitimate market value. If you simply can’t afford to address critical issues, be prepared to work with your agent to price and market your home accordingly.

#3 Don’t overprice your home (and/or refuse to negotiate)

Getting top dollar is the dream of every seller. But it’s essential that you let the market dictate that price, not your emotions or financial situation. Allow your agent to research and prepare a market analysis that factors in the value of similar homes in the area, and trust those results.

#4 Use quality photos

The vast majority of prospective buyers today search for homes online first. In order to make a good first impression, you need a wealth of high-quality photos of your home and surrounding grounds. You may also need to consider professional staging in order to position your home in the best possible light for prospective buyers.

The process of buying or selling a home can have plenty of twists and turns, but with some smart decision making, you can avoid the most common mistakes and pitfalls.

Posted on November 26, 2018 at 8:10 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Buying & Selling, Colorado Real Estate, Conifer Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Kittredge Real Estate, Lakewood Real Estate, Money, Morrison Real Estate, Pine Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , ,

What is Modern?

Posted in Architecture by Tara Sharp

Sleek design, open floor plans, and great natural lighting are all appealing characteristics of modern architecture. Over the years, modern design concepts in home building have become more popular, as is the resurgence of interest in modern real estate. More companies, like 360 modern, are specializing in modern properties. Modern homes vary greatly in style; however, they have some unifying qualities that distinguish them from other properties built over the last 60 years. Here are some characteristics often found in modern homes:

Clean geometric lines: The core of modernist values is the simplification of form. Modernist homes have a very ‘linear’ feel with straight lines and exposed building materials. Furnishings and adornment reflect this value, incorporating vibrant, geometric and abstract designs.

Modern materials: Large windows are abundant in modern architecture, allowing light to fill and expand the interior space, bringing the natural world indoors. Generally all exposed building materials are kept close to their natural state, including exposed wood beams, poured concrete floors or counter tops, stone walls and stainless steel.

Modern homes are well suited for technological and green upgrades, as well including eco-friendly building materials and energy efficient practices. Flat roofs accommodate solar power. Energy efficient appliances work with the aesthetics of modern homes. Modernist landscaping need not require water-thirsty lawns, but instead can reflect local flora.

Post-and-beam structure: One classic element in modern architecture is the exposed wood posts and ceiling beams. This style of building has been around for thousands of years; however, modern homes really emphasize the structure, rather than hiding the bones behind drywall.  In new modern homes the post-and-beam structure can be made out of concrete, iron or other materials. The highly visible horizontal and vertical beams reinforce the clean geometric lines of the space.

Low-pitched gable or shed roof: One of the most differential characteristics of modern homes than more traditional home design is the shape of the roof. Classic modern homes on the west coast generally have a flat or low-pitched roof, highly influenced by architect Joseph Eichler. New urban homes also leverage roof tops for outdoor entertaining space.

Open floor plan:  Modern design strives to “open” the space by eliminating enclosed rooms. For example opening the kitchen and dining room into an open living space, allowing the ‘rooms’ to flow into one another.

Large windows: Natural light and the incorporation of natural elements are important aspects of modern home design. Large, floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate the open space and highlight the natural landscape. Some new modern homes have adjusted the large windows to open, diminishing the barrier between the indoors and out.

Incorporation of outdoor elements: Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the pioneering modernist architects, incorporated the natural setting into his architecture, most famously with Falling Water. Outdoor elements are incorporated into modern architecture in many ways; through large windows, landscaped terraces, and patios, and through use of natural and organic materials in building including stone walls, and more.

Minimalism: With open and connected modernist spaces, careful curation of furniture, adornments, and household objects is important to preserving the modernist aesthetic. Generally, modernist homes have art and furniture that reflects the clean geometric lines and the natural materials of the architecture, leaving less space for clutter. Minimalist philosophies of few household items that serve both form and function work well within this design and architectural style.

Posted on October 23, 2018 at 7:08 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Architecture, Colorado Real Estate, Conifer Real Estate, Evergreen Real Estate, Housing Trends, Kittredge Real Estate, Lakewood Real Estate, Living, Morrison Real Estate, Mountain Living, Pine Real Estate, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Bring Earth Day into your home

Today marks  Earth Day. How will you spend the day? Here are a few simple ideas to save energy and reduce your impact on the earth.

Create your own Earth Hour
During Earth Hour, people around the world turn off the lights. Even famous places such as the Eiffel Tower and Empire State Building go dark.  Re-create your own Earth Hour tonight by turning off the lights and the TV. Play a board game, have dinner or read a book by candlelight.

Adjust your thermostat
Spring is slowly heating up into summer. Check that your heating and cooling settings are appropriate for the new season.

Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs)
If you haven’t already made the switch, think about replacing old light bulbs with CFLs. According to EnergyStar, if each home in America replaced just one light with an ENERGY STAR light, the energy saved would light more than 3 million homes for a year and save about $700 million in annual energy costs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Upcycle
Upcycling is the art of taking something that could be seen as garbage and turning into something useful. Do you have a basement full of items that you’re thinking about throwing away? Next time you want to run to the store to buy something new, head down to your stash and envision if there’s anything there that you could use instead, like this pair of rubber boots that became a flower pot.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on April 22, 2018 at 11:00 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,

How Tax Reform Affects Homeowners

New tax legislation was signed into law at the end of 2017, and it included some significant changes for homeowners. These changes took effect in 2018 and do not influence your 2017 taxes.  Here’s a brief overview of this year’s tax changes and how they may affect you*.

The amount of mortgage interest you can deduct has decreased.

Under the old law, taxpayers could deduct the interest they paid on a mortgage of up to $1 million. The new law reduces the mortgage interest deduction from $1 million to $750,000. These changes do not affect mortgages taken out before December 15, 2017.

The home equity loan deduction has changed.

The IRS states that, despite newly-enacted restrictions on home mortgages, taxpayers can often still deduct interest on a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC) or second mortgage, regardless of how the loan is labeled. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, enacted December 22, suspends from 2018 until 2026 the deduction for interest paid on home equity loans and lines of credit, unless they are used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s home that secures the loan.

 

The property tax deduction is capped at $10,000.

Previously taxpayers could deduct all the state, local and foreign real estate taxes they paid with no cap on the amount. The new law limits the deduction for all state and local taxes – including income, sales, real estate, and personal property taxes – to $10,000.

The casualty loss deduction has been repealed.

Homeowners previously could deduct unreimbursed casualty, disaster and theft losses on their property. That deduction has been repealed, with an exception for losses on property located in a federally declared disaster area.

The capital gains exclusion remains unchanged.

Homeowners can continue to exclude up to $500,000 for joint filers or $250,000 for single filers for capital gains when selling their primary residence as long as they have lived in the home for two of the past five years. An earlier proposal would have increased that requirement to five out of the last eight years and phase out the exclusion for high-income households, but it was struck down. Find out more about 2018 tax reform.

How does tax reform affect your plans for buying or selling a home?

The changes in real estate related taxes may change your strategy. Contact your Windermere agent to learn more. If you need help finding an agent, we’re happy to help.

*Please consult your tax advisor if you have any questions about how the new tax reform impacts you

For more information on Winderemere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,

12 Tips for Making Your Bedroom Cozier

At the end of a long day, your bedroom should be a sanctuary of comfort that welcomes you in. But, as a room that guests rarely see and in which homeowners spend most of their time with their eyes closed, its upkeep frequently gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list. Thankfully, there are some little design tricks that can make a big difference. Turn your bedroom into a restful retreat when you up its coziness factor with a few of these easy ideas.

  1. Layer textures. Sheepskin rugs, a down comforter, plush pillows and knit blankets can add a softness to the room that will make you want to sink right in. Lift these textures upward, with a canopy, tufted headboard, billowy curtains and hanging textiles (like a weaving) so even the walls and ceiling feel snuggly.
  2. Pick the right paint. Dark, saturated colors make a room feel like it’s embracing you, which is ideal for setting a sleepy environment. But if you’re nervous to commit to a dark color on the wall, choose a pale dusty blue, sage green or another light natural color for a soothing tone (just steer clear of energetic hues). Have you ever wanted to sleep on a cloud? Go with all-white paint and decor which makes even a basic bedroom feel soft and spa-like.
  3. Personalize it with reminders of the places and things that make you feel at home. Do you have a fondness for flowers? Bring floral patterns in on your textiles. Do you dream of vacation at the lake? Frame a photo of your favorite spot! Photos or paintings of uncluttered natural landscapes—like a sunset reflecting on water or a hammock under the shade of an oak—can rekindle memories of relaxation and are perfect for creating a sense of calm.
  4. Add mood lighting. Soften the light to mimic dusk for an intimate mood with dimmer switches, lamps, lanterns or even string lights. Just make sure you can reach the switch from bed, so you don’t have to disturb your peace to get up and turn it off when you’re ready to roll over and fall asleep.
  5. Skip metallic finishes. Choose warm natural decor options like wood and fabric instead of cold, manufactured metallics. This goes for everything from your bedroom furniture to window treatments. Faux wood blinds, especially when paired with floating curtains, fit with a cozy aesthetic and let you filter out harsh sunlight and maintain privacy for a truly sheltered slumber.
  6. Bring on the books! Stacks of good reads invite you to snuggle in and get lost in another world. A true retreat is a room with plenty of books that begs you to stay.
  7. Fix up—or fake—a fireplace. If your bed sits hearthside, embrace this romantic accent with styled logs and a decorated mantle. If you don’t have such a luxury, create a faux fireplace to add comfort and warmth through your décor: Arrange oversized candles and lanterns safely within a homemade hearth to bring in that cozy fireside feeling without changing the structure of your home.
  8. Keep the room uncluttered. When you want to settle in, a mess distracts you from finding comfort, so minimize the amount of stuff that makes it to your bedroom. Watch your nightstand, which often becomes a catch-all, by making a point to rehome any wandering wares now, and put things away as soon as they enter the room in the future. If you’re apt to let laundry pile up, keep it behind the closed doors of your closet so it doesn’t crowd your peace.
  9. Create a sense of timelessness. Tuck clocks and electronics away so they’re nearby if you need them, but their wires and harsh silhouettes aren’t reminding you of life outside your sanctuary. The hush that falls in a room devoid of gadgets will allow you to easily disengage from the stresses of reality.
  10. Rethink your bedding. Add a pillow-top pad to your mattress so it feels like your bed is hugging you when you climb in. Or, bring in a contoured body pillow which actually can hug you! Linen sheets feel luxe compared to cotton and are a simple swap to boost your bower. Many people also swear by skipping the top sheet while dressing their beds, which allows them to burrow directly into a fluffy comforter.
  11. Appeal to your sense of smell. Aromatherapy can have a huge impact on your perception of a space, so find some soothing essential oils or a sweet candle to blanket the room with an ambiance you adore. As soon as you open the door, you’ll be eager to plunge into your little oasis.
  12. Nestle into nooks. A window seat, a reading nook or an upholstered seating area are all inviting spaces that can draw you in from the doorway. The more intimate alcoves you can create, the cozier your bedroom will feel!

Flooded with soft lighting, plush textures and other comfy touches, your bedroom environment will envelope you at day’s end. And, perhaps even better than the idea of your bedroom refresh itself, is knowing that none of these tips take longer than a weekend to complete! So, slide into your slippers as you settle on which cozy updates you’ll select for your new favorite room of the house.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 24, 2018 at 8:34 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Home Addition: What to Consider Before Starting to Build

Adding on to your current home may be your best bet if you’re short on space, but you don’t want to move or can’t find another house in the area with all the qualities you’re seeking. It’s also an attractive option if the house you have is lacking just one significant element (a family room, another bedroom, a larger kitchen, a separate apartment, etc.).

On the other hand, even a modest addition can turn into a major construction project, with architects and contractors to manage, construction workers traipsing through your home, hammers pounding, and sawdust everywhere. And although new additions can be a very good investment, the cost per-square-foot is typically more than building a new home, and much more than buying a larger existing home.

Define your needs

To determine if an addition makes sense for your particular situation, start by defining exactly what it is you want and need. By focusing on core needs, you won’t get carried away with a wish list that can push the project out of reach financially.

If it’s a matter of needing more space, be specific. For example, instead of just jotting down “more kitchen space,” figure out just how much more space is going to make the difference, e.g., “150 square feet of floor space and six additional feet of counter space.”

If the addition will be for aging parents, consult with their doctors or an age-in-place expert to define exactly what they’ll require for living conditions, both now and over the next five to ten years.

Types of additions

Bump-out addition—“Bumping out” one of more walls to make a first floor room slightly larger is something most homeowners think about at one time or another. However, when you consider the work required, and the limited amount of space created, it often figures to be one of your most expensive approaches.

First floor addition—Adding a whole new room (or rooms) to the first floor of your home is one of the most common ways to add a family room, apartment or sunroom. But this approach can also take away yard space.

Dormer addition—For homes with steep rooflines, adding an upper floor dormer may be all that’s needed to transform an awkward space with limited headroom. The cost is affordable and, when done well, a dormer can also improve the curb-appeal of your house.

Second-story addition—For homes without an upper floor, adding a second story can double the size of the house without reducing surrounding yard space.

Garage addition—Building above the garage is ideal for a space that requires more privacy, such as a rentable apartment, a teen’s bedroom, guest bedroom, guest quarters, or a family bonus room.

Permits required

You’ll need a building permit to construct an addition—which will require professional blueprints. Your local building department will not only want to make sure that the addition adheres to the latest building codes, but also ensure it isn’t too tall for the neighborhood or positioned too close to the property line. Some building departments will also want to ask your neighbors for their input before giving you the go-ahead.

Requirements for a legal apartment

While the idea of having a renter that provides an additional stream of revenue may be enticing, the realities of building and renting a legal add-on apartment can be sobering. Among the things you’ll need to consider:

  • Special permitting—Some communities don’t like the idea of “mother-in-law” units and therefore have regulations against it, or zone-approval requirements.
  • Separate utilities—In many cities, you can’t charge a tenant for heat, electricity, and water unless utilities are separated from the rest of the house (and separately controlled by the tenant).
  • ADU Requirements—When building an “accessory dwelling unit” (the formal name for a second dwelling located on a property where a primary residence already exists), building codes often contain special requirements regarding emergency exists, windows, ceiling height, off-street parking spaces, the location of main entrances, the number of bedrooms, and more.

In addition, renters have special rights while landlords have added responsibilities. You’ll need to learn those rights and responsibilities and be prepared to adhere to them.

Average costs

The cost to construct an addition depends on a wide variety of factors, such as the quality of materials used, the laborers doing the work, the type of addition and its size, the age of your house and its current condition. For ballpark purposes, however, you can figure on spending about $200 per square food if your home is located in a more expensive real estate area, or about $100 per food in a lower-priced market.

You might be wondering how much of that money might the project return if you were to sell the home a couple years later? The answer to that question depends on the aforementioned details; but the average “recoup” rate for a family-room addition is typically more than 80 percent.

The bottom line

While you should certainly research the existing-home marketplace before hiring an architect to map out the plans, building an addition onto your current home can be a great way to expand your living quarters, customize your home, and remain in the same neighborhood.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen and our agents, please contact us here.

Posted on March 20, 2018 at 11:58 am
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Creating a household budget while we wait for our jetpacks

If you’re like me you grew up in a world where technology promised exciting innovations like jetpacks, flying cars and monorails. Most of these promises never really materialized and we ended up with the Flowbee, Pepsi Clear and Betamax instead.

That’s why I always stop to appreciate when technology truly makes life easier. A program that I recently started using is a personal finance website called Mint.com.

Personal finance software has been around for ages, but Mint is a game changer because it doesn’t require a license, it is web based so you can use it from anywhere and it is FREE. In the past you had to buy a license for a product like Quicken or Microsoft Money for your computer and upgrade regularly which was time consuming and expensive.

I like Mint for current and aspiring homeowners because you can:

    • See where your money is really going by merging your account information from banks, credit cards, investments, assets and cash in one intuitive dashboard.
    • Track specific expenses and budget for home renovations and vacations to get away from home renovations.
    • Check out tons of resources especially if you are saving for a down payment, planning a home renovation project or you just need help with managing your household budget.
    • Manage your budget on the go with the Mint iPhone app.

Mint isn’t the only game in the personal finance town. What do you use to get your finances under control?

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 13, 2018 at 8:45 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Summer Entertaining Guide

Summer will be here before we know it, and the season is ripe with opportunities for parties, barbecues, and outdoor entertaining with friends and family. To set the stage for fun gatherings, we have collected some ideas for outdoor decorating, fun party themes, and more on the “Summer Entertaining” Pinterest board. What are your tips for throwing a fantastic summer soiree?

Outdoor improvement

Add some finishing touches to your outdoor spaces to create a fun atmosphere and a touch of your personal style.

 

Party ideas

You don’t need an excuse for a party! Elevate your gatherings to a whole new level with these fun party ideas.

Get your game on

From Bocce to Horse Shoes, there are plenty of games for guests of all ages.

Summer safety

Keep your friends and family safe outdoors with this quick tip.

How to feed a crowd

Don’t forget to search for delicious recipes, quick BBQ tips, kid-friendly foods, and summery cocktails.

You can find more fun home decoration and entertaining ideas on the Windermere Pinterest Board.

For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on March 3, 2018 at 5:53 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,

Fear of Commitment? Choosing the Right Colors for Your Home

One of the most frequent questions interior designers hear is how to choose colors for a home. We all love color, but some people are afraid of using color in their home. Many find they fear committing to a certain color scheme or making a mistake after it is all done. Here are some ideas to help to get you started.

To try to determine just what colors to use in your home, look in your closet! You’ll see the basic wardrobe classics in there: black, brown, navy, beige/khaki. Those colors are neutrals and very applicable in your home color scheme. Now, check out the colors hanging there, too. Unless you are a serious fashionista, a certain color or two will emerge as a standard in your color preference repertoire. Even prints will feature similar colors. These colors are a great place to start to help you decide what colors to use in your home. If you love wearing certain colors and feel good wearing them, you will enjoy seeing them throughout your décor.

Lest you feel the need to paint an entire room tomato red (or whatever color you find that you prefer), just paint the walls a nice warm taupe or other neutral that you like and use the tomato red as an accent color with some of your accessories such as throw pillows, lamp bases, art on the walls or throw rugs. You can even practice with some inexpensive items you might find at a tag sale or discount store before you commit with higher priced items. Give it a try and don’t be afraid to keep working at it. For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 6:44 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Oh My Aching Back: Cabinet Heights to the Rescue

When approaching a kitchen or bath remodel or new construction, you can make things a lot more comfortable by getting creative with the heights of your base cabinets.

Standard heights traditionally have been 36” tall (including the thickness of the countertop material) for kitchen base cabinets, and 29” – 30” tall for bathrooms. These heights are good overall, but are surely not set in stone and can make life a lot more comfortable with some tweaking.

Consider the users’ heights when deciding on cabinet heights. If everyone in the household is tall, consider having the main area of the kitchen raised an inch or so. Chopping will be much more comfortable that way, and it will help avoid arm and back fatigue. If household members are various heights, consider having one area raised higher and another area at the standard height. If you have someone who requires lower heights, such as a wheelchair user, consult a design professional to assist with their particular needs.

In the bathroom areas, consider the primary users when determining the best heights.  The master bath would likely serve adults, so having the base vanities at a taller 34” height will help to avoid stress on the users’ backs when utilizing the sink for face washing and tooth brushing.  If a child uses the area, keep a small step stool handy for those times. A main hall bath outside the children’s rooms could have the standard height. If the children are a bit older (and taller) and you intend to remain in the home longer than a few years, consider the taller height there too for when the children are taller, as they do grow quickly!

Just a few adjustments can make for happy backs, and aren’t difficult at all to achieve if you plan ahead. For more information on Windermere Evergreen, please contact us here.

Posted on February 23, 2018 at 3:41 pm
Windermere Evergreen | Category: Living | Tagged , , , , , ,