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The Denver Real Estate Broker Blog

The Best High Schools in Denver

Denver's Best High SchoolsIn the 2016 U.S. News Best High Schools report, there were well over 100 Colorado schools that received recognition. There were 14 that earned gold medal honors and another 35 that earned a silver.

Let’s take a closer look at a handful of Denver-area high schools that ranked the highest.

Best High Schools in Denver

  • KIPP Denver Collegiate High School

    KIPP ranks number two in Colorado and number 164 in the nation for high schools. Some of the reasons cited for its high ranking include the Advanced Placement exam and course options and the 95 percent AP participation rate. KIPP students achieved a 73.5 on the college-readiness index.

  • DSST: Stapleton High School

    Like KIPP, the DSST student body has very high participation rate in AP programs (79 percent) and wide access to Advanced Placement exams and coursework. As a whole, the school scored a 70.2 on the college-readiness index.

  • Denver School of the Arts

    DSA is the eighth highest rated high school in Colorado and number three in Denver. The relatively low 22:1 student to teacher ratio, the very high english proficiency scores of the student body (94 percent), and the high AP participation rate (84 percent) are all reasons why the Denver School of the Arts cracked the top ten in Colorado and achieved a national ranking of 298.

Learn About Other Top Schools in Denver

To get more information on top high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, and private schools in neighborhoods all over Denver, check out the Neir Team’s section on Denver’s best schools.

If you’d like to talk with a real estate expert about finding a home in the best school district for your kids, call the Neir Team today!

Call 720.280.3004 or 720.935.4399

 

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Denver Home Insurance Advice for New Buyers: Key Do's and Don'ts

Home Insurance PitfallsShopping for a new home is an exciting time. Hopefully, your search is inspiring you to envision a bright future for you and your family in the house of your dreams.

It's not a time when you necessarily want to start thinking about things that could go wrong down the line, but that's just a necessary part of being a savvy home shopper and owner.

Securing the right kind of home insurance is absolutely essential to having a good experience with your property investment.

Here are a handful of the key do's and don'ts when it comes to Denver home insurance:

Don't...

Bundle for convenience -- bundling with other types of insurance MIGHT save you some money, but that doesn't mean it's the right choice. It might be right for you, but don’t automatically assume it without doing your due diligence.

Pay for land -- Protect the buildings and structures you own, but don't be talked into insuring the land they sit on.

Forget to protect additional items -- special items, like jewelry, that are contained within your home will require additional insurance. Don't forget to protect these valuable as well.

Do...

Check for special rates -- good credit, your age, or certain features of your home could all earn you discounted rates, so do ask any prospective home insurance provider.

Shop around -- get multiple quotes to ensure you get competitive rates and services from the provider you ultimately choose.

Take note of limits -- if you have limited time to file a claim after an incident, you need to be aware of the restriction. Ask for info about limits and get it in writing.

Photograph damage immediately -- if an incident does occur, make sure you get pictures or video of the affected areas of your home as soon after the event as possible.

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Required Documents for Mortgage Qualification

What do I need for a home loanUnless you're paying entirely in cash upfront, you will need to get a mortgage to buy a new home in Denver.

To qualify for a mortgage, you're going to authenticate the income and tax information in your application by providing a list of documents.

Do you have everything you need? Check out the list of the required documents to double check:

  • Signed disclosures
  • The social security card belonging to each person involved in the purchase
  • A list of home addresses for all properties lived at in the last two years
  • Two to three months of bank statements
  • Two previous pay stubs
  • Proof of down payment
  • Previous two years' W-2 forms
  • Previous two years' tax returns
  • The purchase contract (if it's available)
  • Details of your employment

In certain circumstances, a borrower may also have to provide:

  • Evidence of other income (child support, etc.)
  • Divorce settlement papers
  • Balance sheets (if self employed)
  • Gift letter (if, for instance, parents are providing the down payment)
  • Evidence of other debt (student loans, credit card debt, etc.)

Some Other Requirements

  1. After completing your mortgage application, you will need to provide consent for the lender to proceed. This gives the mortgage provider permission to investigate your application.
  2. After all required documents have been submitted and the application is completed and submitted, the lender is required to give you a Loan Estimate within three days. This estimate will summarize your monthly payments and loan terms.
  3. Before approving the loan, the lender must order a home appraisal. An appraiser then determines the property's market value based on factors such as
    • The number and size of rooms
    • Recently sold comparables
    • Unique features or amenities of the property in question

Appraised value affects the amount and terms of the mortgage.

Once everything above is complete and the borrower is in agreement, the final approval can be given by the lender.

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5 Tips for Buying a New Construction Home in Denver

New Construction TipWith the intense competition for existing homes in Denver, more and more buyers are looking to new home builders for a solution.

While building a new construction home in Denver does solve one problem, it also presents a few unique challenges that buyers need to be aware of.

Here are some things you should be aware of before you decide to go the new construction route.

Incomplete Phases

In some cases, new construction homes are part of larger development projects that won't be complete for years. If you're on a short timeframe for moving into a new home, these situations won't work for you. Make sure your new home would be move-in ready within a reasonable amount of time.

Construction

There are different definitions of "move-in ready." If you're going to be expected to live in a home surrounded by dirt, machinery, and loud construction noise for the first year, you need to be aware of it. This can be the case sometimes when one new construction home is part of a larger development that is still in progress.

Model Home vs Real Home

Builders are excellent at creating model spaces that appeal to buyers. However, sometimes the actual home doesn't appeal to the buyer quite as much as the model did. Make sure your attraction to the space and design goes beyond the professional staging and finishing that only applies to the model.

Included Items

The model home may have had tons of high-end appliances, but that doesn't mean they'll be included in your new construction. Find out what's included and discuss your needs with the builder.

Completion Date

Make sure you get the developer's projected finish date down in writing. This should be official in case any disputes arise later. 

Buying a new construction home in Denver can be a great choice if you go in prepared.

Alex and Stacy Neir of the Neir Team are experts in helping Denver homebuyers get the new construction home of their dreams. To get their assistance on your real estate search...

Call Stacy Neir at 720.280.3004 or call Alex Neir at 720.935.4399

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12 Real Estate Terms that Shouldn’t Scare You

Real Estate TermsAre you confused by some of the terms popping up in your first attempt to buy or sell a home in Denver?

Don't worry, you're not alone. The real estate industry is filled with unique terminology that can trip up homebuyers, sellers, and even unseasoned agents.

Here are some quick definitions for the terms that you're most likely to encounter.

Appraisal -- It's the estimated value of a property

Certificate of Title -- The document that verifies the home is legally owned by the person claiming to own it

Closing Costs -- All of the expenses and fees associated with closing a home purchase. They can add up to as much as 4-6 percent of the cost of the home.

Contingencies -- Certain conditions that need to be met in order for a buyer's offer to be accepted and for things to proceed

Due Diligence -- Actions that the buyer should take to protect their real estate investment

Debt to Income Ratio -- To qualify for a loan, your monthly debt should add up to less than 43 percent of your monthly income.

Earnest Money Deposit -- A payment the buyer includes with their offer in order to prove serious interest to the seller.

Escrow -- An account where all closing costs are collected while the lender approves the deal.

FICO Score -- A numerical value assigned to a buyer based on their credit history.

Good Faith Deposit -- A payment made to the lender at the time of the offer to show serious interest.

HOA -- Homeowners associations (HOAs) are organizations that set and enforce rules and standards for properties within their community.

Prequalification -- the process through which lenders determine if a borrower is qualified to receive a home loan.

Need more help understanding the complex terminology involved in buying or selling real estate in Denver? Contact the Neir Team for assistance!

Call Stacy Neir at 720.280.3004 or call Alex Neir at 720.935.4399 today!

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5 Real Estate Listing Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Photo TipCrisp, high definition photographs are an essential part of a real estate listing. If the pictures of your home aren’t as good as the pictures of competing homes on the market, it might not even matter that your property is actually better in real life. 

Image is everything when it comes to real estate listings. If you want buyers to fall in love with your home and offer you your ideal price, you need to make the listing photos a priority from the start.

Here are 5 common real estate photography mistakes that you should avoid if you want to create an excellent listing for your home:

Blurriness

Reduse blur in your photos

Blur is caused by a shaky camera. The best way to avoid it is to use a tripod. It's a relatively cheap solution to a problem that will sink your listing photos. Set a tripod and camera up at chest height and you're much more likely to get sharp, appealing photos that entice buyers.

Clutter

Avoid clutter in your photos

Get rid of the clutter! Putting personal items away, removing items from counters, and taking unnecessary decor from walls and corners are all essential steps for preparing a home for sale to be photographed. Also, please remember to put the car in the garage for exteriors.

Crooked Horizon

Crooked photos

If your home looks crooked in photos, you might as well not provide any pictures in your listing. Use your camera settings to open a grid in the viewfinder. This will help you keep things level when aiming and focusing.

Poor Lighting

Bad lighting

Turn off your flash! Direct, natural light is the only way to go for real estate photography. To keep window brightness from ruining the shot, just adjust the exposure to a spot on the wall.

Poor Composition

Bad composition

When framing a shot, try to capture as much of the space as possible without bringing in too much ceiling. It might even be worthwhile to invest in a wide angle lens.

To talk to the Neir Team about all the elements of an excellent listing in the Denver real estate market, call Stacy Neir at 720.280.3004 or call Alex Neir at 720.935.4399.

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Homebuyer Checklist: 10 Things to Check Before Falling in Love with a House

What to watch out forWhen you’re in the market for a new home, It’s all too easy to fall in love with a property at first glance and forget about all the potential challenges.

Buying a home, you have to think about the long-haul as well as your first impression. Here’s a list of 10 items that you should check off for every new property you look at in Denver. If you complete this checklist every time, you have a much better chance of ending up with a home that keeps you happy for years to come.

Permits

Research to find out whether or not the property has had any work done on it and whether or not it was properly permitted

HOA Restrictions

Determine if the property is part of a home owner's association. If so, research any rules or restrictions that apply.

HOA Stability

If there is an existing HOA in place, is it financially healthy and able to enforce its own restrictions?

Parking Rules

If there are frustrating restrictions on vehicle parking, that can be a deal breaker.

Future Area Plans

Are there any construction projects planned for the area surrounding the home that would impact its future value?

HVAC Condition

Hire a home inspector to verify that the property's air conditioning and heating systems are working properly

Roof Life Expectancy

The inspector should also be able to tell you the condition of the roof and how long it's expected to last before requiring replacement or significant repair.

School Zoning

Research the school district and local elementary, middle, and high schools to judge their suitability for your children.

Pet Restrictions

Are there any neighborhood rules or restrictions pertaining to pets? That would be good to know before you buy.

Area Days on Market

Research already sold homes nearby to see how long they were on the market. That will give you an idea of the general perception of local real estate.

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Denver Home Sellers: 4 Ways to Win Over Buyers at First Glance

Ways to win over buyers

Studies show that the longer a home sits on the market, the lower the offer will be when the seller finally receives one. That’s why you really need to do everything you can to make buyers fall in love with your home from the first day it goes on the market, or at least from the first look they get at it.

You may feel that your home will sell itself, but that can be a costly presumption if you’re wrong. If there are other homes for sale in your area, you need to be competitive.

In this article, we’ll review a few of the most important steps you need to take to get buyers to fall in love with your house from the get go.

Complete Necessary Restorations/Repairs

Probably the No. 1 thing keeping a home from selling is its overall condition. It’s a lot of work to get a home ready to sell. Understandably, some sellers try to cut corners.

Evaluating the repairs and restoration to be done before listing can be complicated if your house is very large and/or you’ve been living in it for many years. This is something that your Denver real estate agent can coach you through.

If you can get the interior and exterior of your home in great show condition, you’re going to win buyers hearts when they find your home online.

Minimize Your Footprint

Buyers have a hard time imagining themselves in a home if it is covered in someone else's stuff.  To do this you need to act as though the home is no longer yours, and pretend that you are just temporarily staying there.

Remove all of your personal pictures from the walls and use minimal decorative items throughout the house. It may be a difficult step for some, but it’s definitely worth it once you’ve decided to sell.

Study the Competition

Pretend that you are a buyer looking for a home in the price range, size, and neighborhood of your house. Then go online and try to find 3 to 5 homes that you think are the best available.

As you list and market your home, referencing these 3 to 5 properties will provide you with valuable guidance on what you should and shouldn’t focus on.

Highlight Unique Features

Many times, unique features aren’t noticeable in listing pictures, or they get buried in the property description. It takes more than a clever property description and average photos to sell a home at the ideal price point.

Look at the properties you’re competing against and decide which unique features of your home will allow you to stand out. Make them the focus of your property description and make sure they are highlighted in photos as well.

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5 Things You Need to Buy a Home in Denver

What do I need to buy a home“What do I need to buy a house?” It’s a simple question that real estate agents hear often from first-time homebuyers.

The question may be simple, but the answer can get confusing quickly. That’s why it’s especially important for home shopping neophytes to work with a seasoned Denver real estate agent when embarking on one of the biggest investments of their lives.

There are several key steps involved in purchasing a home, and it’s easy for first timers home to completely overlook one or more.

In this blog, we’ll quickly recap all of the important items that must be checked off your list before you can close on a new home. Of course, there will be additional requirements from your mortgage lender. But, in this article, we’ll just stick to the key factors that pertain to the amount of money you need. 

Mortgage Pre-Approval

If you're not able to buy your home with cash upfront, then you'll need pre-approval on a mortgage. Contact a mortgage lender to discuss the steps involved in obtaining pre-approval.

Earnest Money

Earnest money is a measure of good faith that is typically paired with a sales contract. This money acts as proof to the seller that you have an "earnest" intent to buy their home.

Money for Down Payment 

Many down payments range from 3 to 5 percent of the home's sale price. The mortgage lender can help you determine the appropriate down payment.

Money for Closing Costs

Typically, 1 to 4 percent of the amount of the mortgage loan should be set aside for closing costs. Sometimes closing costs will be negotiated within the sales contract. 

Money to Hire an Inspector

A home inspection ensures that you are aware of any serious problems within the home before you close on the purchase. An inspector will provide a detailed report on any costly repairs needed.

If you’re ready to get started on the steps toward buying a home, contact the Denver real estate experts at the Neir Team!

Call Stacy Neir at 720.280.3004 or call Alex Neir at 720.935.4399

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Top 3 Museums in Denver

Top Museums in DenverDenver might be best known as a sports town or as a gateway to some of the world’s best skiing and hiking destinations, but it also has a thriving cultural scene that shouldn’t be overlooked. Fun, unique, and convenient museums are scattered out all over the Denver Metro area.

Whether you want to explore science, art, history, culture, or something more, there will be an excellent learning destination for you somewhere in the Mile High City.

Check out our list of the top 3 museums in Denver and see what memorable cultural adventures await you.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

With a Planetarium and IMAX Theater right on the premises, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science offers visitors incredible value, diversity, and convenience. Tickets are $14.95 for adults, $11.95 for seniors, and $9.95 for students.

This massive museum is one of the largest of its kind in America. It began humbly at the beginning of the 20th century, but has expanded to include an impressive list of exhibits and features that undeniably make it one of the top museums in Denver. There’s always plenty to see and learn about at DMNS -- dinosaurs, space exploration, biology, and much more. The interactive exhibits are great at giving kids and adults a hands-on education on some of the most interesting topics in science and nature.

Denver Art Museum

Many people want to go to museums specifically to marvel at great art. If that’s your top priority, the Denver Art Museum should be your destination of choice. Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, even the building itself is considered a work of art.

A day at the Denver Art Museum open your eyes to a range of classic and contemporary works by master artists. There are interactive areas designed to educate children on art and tap into their creative side. The temporary and permanent exhibits are engaging for all ages. 

Tickets are $10 for adults, $3 for kids, and $8 for seniors.

History Colorado Center

If it’s Denver itself that you would like to learn about, the History Colorado Center should be at the top of your list of places to visit. This museum focuses on all the events and people that helped shape Denver -- and all of Colorado -- throughout its history. It’s a vibrant space that teaches all ages about the unique story of this amazing state.

It may be one of the newer museums in the Denver area, but the History Colorado Center has already firmly established itself as a top local institution. It has been home to many fine traveling exhibits, and the permanent interactive exhibits are always a favorite for kids and adults as well.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, and $8 for children.

Where do you go when you’re in the mood for cultural exploration in Denver? Leave a comment and tell us about your favorite museums and cultural destinations around town.

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