Real Estate Advice

New Decade, New Trends in Real Estate

Extended time at home because of the Corona Virus has us exploring home upgrades and renovation. Simple upgrades that increase happiness and value have been the focus as of late. 

Now let's take a look at how styles are changing as we head into the third decade of the millennia. Keeping up with current style trends and making incremental upgrades ensures that you don’t find yourself in decades old home. Outdated homes take longer to sell and sell for considerably less than their updated counterparts. Secondly, keeping your home updated adds joy to your life, it's a simple fact! 

So, let’s dive into the design trends in real estate that are making a splash in 2020. These styles are not for everyone or every home. So use your design savvy to determine which motivate and which fall flat. 

Sustainability is in and quick furniture is out

The first trends in real estate - eco-consciousness has infiltrated every aspect of the home and home furniture is no exception. Quick furniture, similar to the products IKEA sells are becoming less popular. Consumers are moving to higher quality items that are built well and showcase more individual style. The environmentally friendly and non-toxic furniture segment should gain more market share in 2020 and beyond. 

Curated Design Elements...

Easy Upgrades that Spark Joy for Buyers and Yourself

Happy House Happy Life

The Denver real estate market is scorching hot right now. My opinion on why this is happening is outlined in this article: Why hasn't COVID 19 slowed the Denver Real Estate Market? With a market this hot, as an owner/seller you might tell yourself - buyers will love my home regardless! While this certainly may be true, some strategic upgrades can increase your odds while creating a tidal wave of joy for yourself.

I often see sellers really start considering improvements right around the time they go to sell. This is {nuts emoji}. What if I could convince you that some simple upgrades could spark joy in your life! A tangible joy that will lift our mood every day. Wouldn’t it be worth doing that now instead of at sale time? If you are still with me, I’m glad you agree and here are some suggestions.

Let's start in the bathroom(s). A room you are in every day regardless of your schedule. A simple upgrade here will, absolutely, spark joy in your life. Start with a deep clean. Go through everything and throughout all the {poop emoji} that has accumulated. 

Next, let's add some organization. Go to Target or the Container Store and grab some drawer organizers. Give yourself dedicated areas for smaller things, like hair products and jewelry. In the cabinets, upgrade to roll-out shelving or decor appropriate baskets for easy access to commonly used items.

Creative bathroom ideas...

Why hasn't COVID 19 slowed the Denver Real Estate Market?

Why is it so hard to buy a house

With unemployment sitting at around 10.5% in Colorado right now, COVID-19 spiking in many places across the United States and the national news fixated on a stagnant economy, why is it so difficult to buy a house in Denver right now?

You may be asking yourself this very question. All economic indicators should have buyers pausing purchase decisions. Uncertainty about the future has traditionally caused real estate markets to slow down. But this time is different. Why is that?

I have a few ideas on what might be fueling the demand for real estate in the Denver market right now.

First of all, It is extremely cheap to borrow money. Interest rates sit at 3.14% for a 30-year and 2.66% for a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. Cheap money translates to more purchasing power. More purchase power, coupled with a home value which is likely the highest its ever been, have most homeowners considering their options. 

Second, I feel the COVID-19 has most people evaluating their living situation. With more time being spent at home, it's natural to ponder what it would be like to have a larger yard, a second office, or no more building elevator. 

A third reason why COVID-19 hasn't slowed the Denver Real Estate Market is the lack of inventory. I feel like a broken record, with the needle stuck repeating a familiar phrase but the numbers continue to support this fact. 

Denver Single Family Inventory...

Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements

Add home value

Add Value To Your Home With These 9 DIY Improvements

Whether you’re prepping your house to go on the market or looking for ways to maximize its long-term appreciation, these nine home improvement projects are great ways to add function, beauty, and real value to your home.

The best part is, once you’ve secured the materials, most of these renovations can be completed over the course of a weekend. And they don’t require a lot of specialized skills or experience. So grab your toolbox, then get ready to boost your home’s appeal AND investment potential!

1. Spruce Up Your Landscaping

Landscaping improvements can increase a home’s value by 10-12%.1 But which outdoor features do buyers care about most? According to a survey of Realtors, a healthy lawn is at the top of their list. If your lawn is lacking, overseeding or laying new sod can be a worthwhile investment—with an expected return of 417% and 143% respectively.1

Planting flowers is another great way to enhance your home’s curb appeal. And if you choose a perennial variety, your blooms should return year after year. For an even longer-term impact, consider planting a tree. According to the Council of Tree and Landscape Appraisers, a mature tree can add up to $10,000 to the value of your home.2

2. Clean The Exterior

When it comes to making your house shine, a sparkling facade can be just as important as a clean interior. Real estate professionals estimate that washing the outside of a house can add as much as $15,000...

Denver Real Estate and the Stay-At-Home Order: Your Questions Answered

Coronavirus, Stay-at-Home Order and Real Estate: Your Questions Answered

In these unprecedented times, we know many Denver real estate buyers and sellers are wondering what to do. The Neir Team is here to answer your questions based on policies and procedures developed by Kentwood City Properties. Below are some of the most common inquiries received by The Neir Team. If your question is not on this list, please give us a call (phone numbers below).

What does this mean for my current listing?

Your home is still posted on our various online channels and the MLS. Buyers typically first learn of a home online. The Neir Team clients benefit from our extensive digital marketing expertise -- we will make sure yours stands out among the rest.

The Neir Team, as well as most Denver real estate agents, are working virtually. While this is something required by the stay-at-home order, The Neir Team has worked on many transactions virtually including when buyers have been out of state, or even the country.

What does this mean for my current home search?

MLS listings across the region will continue to appear on traditional online sources.

The Neir Team will continue our extensive networking – virtually of course – that helps us learn about homes for sale before they are posted, so our Denver real estate clients have opportunities be among the first to learn about a new listing.

Physical viewings of properties will be limited in accordance with Colorado’s stay-at-home order, which overrides Denver’s original guidance to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. However, The Neir Team will be able to work with other Denver Realtors...

Q4 2019 Denver Real Estate Market Update

Q4 2019 Denver Real Estate Market Update.

Hey everybody, I’ve got your Q4 2019 Denver real estate market update. How did 2019 compare to previous years? Also, strategies and predictions for what’s going to happen in 2020.

We’re talking about the Denver real estate market today. First of all huge shout out to Megan Aller with first American title. She is the amazing statistician that has compiled all of this data and made it actionable for us.

Four things I want to cover today.

Number 1: let’s check in on the inventory in our market as it’s the huge driver for the price appreciation that we continue to see.

Number two: For 2020 when does the Denver real estate market pick up?

Number three: Heading into 2020 when is the best time to buy and when is the best time to sell.

And number four: I want to give you some insight on what to watch for going into 2020 that will have an impact on affordability.

All of the information and presenting today is specific to detached single-family product. If you would like the same information on the attached product please get in touch and I can get you that for you.

Denver Inventory Graph

Here is the inventory graph for the greater metro area of Denver from 2005 through 2019. As you can see the market has behaved...

Everything You Need to Know About iBuyers and the “Instant Cash Offer”

Is a cash offer in your best interest

Technology is changing the way we do almost everything, and real estate transactions are no exception. In fact, a new crop of tech companies wants to revolutionize the way we buy and sell homes.

iBuyer startups like Opendoor, Offerpad, and Properly are rapidly expanding into new territories, and now established players, like Zillow, are starting to get in on the action. Also known as Direct Buyers, these companies use computer algorithms to provide sellers with a quick cash offer to buy their home.

While the actual market share of iBuyers remains small, their big advertising budgets have helped create a noticeable buzz in the industry. This has left many of our clients curious about them and how they work.

In this article, we explain their business model, weigh the pros and cons of working with an iBuyer, and share strategies you can use to protect yourself if you choose to explore this new option to buy or sell your home.

FIRST, HOW DOES THE iBUYER PROCESS WORK?

While each company operates a little differently, the basic premise is the same. A seller (or seller’s agent) completes a brief online form that asks questions about the size, features, and condition of the property. Some also request digital photos of the home.

The iBuyer will use this information to determine whether or not the home fits within their “buy box,” or set of criteria that matches their investment model. They are generally looking for houses they can easily value and “flip.” In most cases, their ideal property is a moderately priced, single-family home located in a neighborhood with many...

Will Your Remodel Pay Off? The Best (and Worst) Ways to Spend Your Budget

Renovations that work

Most homeowners have something about their property that they want to change. And as needs and design trends shift over time, many will eventually choose to remodel. Some homeowners make updates to their property before listing it to maximize their potential sales revenue.

Whatever your reasons are for taking on a home improvement project, it’s wise to consider how the money you invest will impact your home’s value.

We’ve taken a look at six popular home renovations and identified those that—on average—have the best and worst returns on investment. So before you lift a hammer or hire a contractor, take a look at this list and see if your remodeling efforts will reward you when it comes time to sell.

RENOVATIONS THAT PAY OFF

These three common home improvement projects not only add function and style to your home, but they also offer a strong return on investment. Making strategic upgrades to your property will help you increase its value over time.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home,” and for good reason. Traditionally used for preparing food, it has morphed into so much more. Many of us now eat our family meals in the kitchen, it serves as a favorite spot for homework and kids’ art projects, and it’s the place guests tend to gather when we host events.

Because we spend so much time in our kitchens, it’s natural that we will eventually want to make updates and upgrades to better suit our needs and changing style preferences.

Luckily, a minor kitchen remodel...

Why investment properties make so much cents!

How to succeed at real estate investment

I was fortunate enough to get into the real estate game early. Much earlier than becoming a broker. I had the good fortune of having Mike Jensen, the Ft Collins real estate mogul, as my roommate in college. Mike was in my ear a lot about investing in real estate. He encouraged me to secure a first-time home buyer loan through a local credit union. I had no credit so my father agreed to co-sign. I bought my first investment property in Fort Collins in 1995 with only $3600. 

This decision kicked off an incredible real estate education through the act of doing. I would like to share my lessons with you.

Lesson 1 - Other peoples monryThe purchase price for the Ft Collins Property was $120,000. The first-time homebuyer program allowed me to purchase the property with a 3% down payment. Therefore my investment came to $3,600 and I used $116,400 of the bank's money to get me into the game.

Investment property 1

I bought the Ft Collins Property to live in but quickly realized it would generate a great deal of cash flow (total rent - mortgage = cash flow). So, I moved out and it became my first investment property. I managed the property for a number of years then hired a management company.

When I graduated college my wife and I moved to Denver and decided to shift my investment property closer...

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...

Tips for First-Time Homebuyers in Denver

How to buy a homeThinking about taking the big leap into the world of home ownership? It may be the biggest purchase you’ve made in your life so far, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a frightening experience.

If you’re prepared and you have the right assistance, buying your first home should be a thrilling and positive experience. To ensure that your initial foray into property purchasing is a success, follow the Neir Teams list of top tips for first-time homebuyers in Denver.

1. Find the Right Denver Real Estate Agent

If you haven’t already found a Denver real estate agent to work with, that should be your first move. Real estate professionals are especially valuable to first-time buyers who have never been through the process before. Their advice will be invaluable when prioritizing needs, budgeting, searching for a home and negotiating.

2. Know Your Finances

When it comes time to buy a home, you don’t want your finances to hold you back. It’s wise to verify your budget capabilities and your credit score before you even begin looking for homes. Saving and budgeting aren't just for your down payment. You’ll probably need to tighten your belt a little to account for the new mortgage payment you’re about to take on.

3. Be Realistic About Your Needs

You’ve probably been dreaming for years about finding that ideal home that meets your every need and desire. We’re not here to say you shouldn’t have everything you want in a home, but the realities of the market and your budget...

How do HOAs in Denver Work?

How do HOA'a workWhen you purchase a property in a planned development like a gated community, leased land property, or subdivision, you will be required to become a member of that community’s HOA (homeowners’ association). HOAs in Denver collect annual or monthly fees from members to pay for maintenance and upkeep of common areas.

If you’re thinking about buying a property that requires you to join an HOA in Denver, here’s what you need to know.

The Basics

HOA fees typically fall in the $200 to $400 per month range, but communities featuring a lot of upscale amenities will likely have fees in excess of $400. The more amenities, the higher the cost of membership.

One very important thing to understand up front is that regular monthly or annual fees do not cover all potential expenses. For instance, if a common building needs major roof repair work, the association may not have enough reserve funds to cover all of the costs. In this case, each member of the HOA would be charged an extra assessment to make up the difference.

Fees and extra assessments may seem like a potentially heavy financial burden, but they go a long way toward protecting the property values and maintaining a high quality of life for all members.

CC&Rs

HOAs don’t just exist to maintain common spaces and charge fees. They also set and enforce rules -- referred to as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) -- that apply to all members. Rules may specify what color your front door should be, what types of pets are allowed, what type of landscaping you can do, and so on. If you can get the HOA to grant you a...

Best Elementary Schools in the Denver Area

Every parent wants their child to attend the best schools throughout their academic career. The best way to ensure this is to live in proximity to schools that are known for having a great reputation. If you are planning to move to the Denver area and you have young children, learning which elementary schools are the best and where they are located should be a top priority.

School rankings can be highly subjective. Some parents want their children to attend schools that have excellent art and music programs, others are focused on finding a renowned special needs department. Check out The Neir Team’s guide on how to pick the best Denver school for your child to learn more about evaluating options.

When it comes to objectively ranking schools, test scores are often a key factor. Unfortunately, standardized testing is not always a perfect reflection of a schools overall quality. The website Chalkbeat uses several factors – re-enrollment rate, growth points, status points, poverty percentage and more – to come up with annual rankings for Denver schools. Here is the list of Denver elementary schools that received a “distinguished” School Performance Framework (SPF) rating in the most recent Chalkbeat rankings:

  • Asbury Elementary School
  • Bradley International School
  • Bromwell Elementary School
  • Carson Elementary School
  • Cory Elementary School
  • Lincoln Elementary School
  • McMeen Elementary School
  • Polaris at Ebert Elementary School
  • Steck Elementary School
  • University Park Elementary School

You can find links to more information about these and other schools on our complete list of ...

Tips to Hire the Best Denver Real Estate Agent

Seeing through all the hype is probably the hardest part of finding the best Denver real estate agent.

When it comes time to buy a new home or sell your old home, you need a qualified agent capable of backing up their claims. Anyone can say they are the best, so you need to do a little homework to ensure you wind up with a professional who has what it takes to help you reach your real estate goals.

By following a few tips below, you will be able to get the information you need to make a solid judgement on an agent’s ability to lead you to success in a real estate buying or selling.

Check for the Right Experience

It would be ideal to find an agent with experience that will increase their chances being successful with you. Ask them for examples of homes they have found or listed in your price range and location. If you have a home for sale and they have successfully sold a property in the same neighborhood for an equal or higher amount, they are likely to be a good candidate.

If your home has some unique features, ask about their past experience with those as well.

View Current Listings

To double check whether or not you have found the best Denver real estate agent to handle your price range and location, check the current listings on their website. Are there homes that you are interested in buying? Are there similar homes for sale in Denver? If yes, this is just one more signal that the agent has the experience needed to help you reach your real estate goals.

Speak with Previous Clients

Ask a prospective agent to supply you with a short list of clients they have worked with in the...

Why hire a Denver realtor?

Why hire a realtor?One perception of hiring a realtor is that they are expensive.  Another thought, I can sell my house on my own, no problem. Realtors are professionals that will make sure your real estate transaction completed correctly, by law and with your best interest in mind.  Denver realtors also have access to the most up-to-date real estate systems and references, and techniques to ensure a quick and streamlined process.  Selling a house is much more than just putting a sign in your front yard, an ad in the local paper, and if you’re somewhat technologically savvy, putting it up on MLS

One thing is for sure if you sell your house “by owner”, the buyer knows that you are saving money by not paying a realtor for their expertise and will most likely negotiate accordingly.  You will be spending less money but also making less money too.  Negotiations are a critical component of the real estate transaction, and you will want an un-emotional third party involved to communicate your needs and leverage the facts.

Why hire a Denver realtor? Who’s going to show your house?  Do you realistically have enough time to do so?  Do you know what is involved in the long contract process and with all of the different contingences involved with the sale? Overall, selling a home can be very stressful and time consuming, and it can be much easier if you have someone to work with.  An established, experienced realtor.

Advantages to hiring a realtor...

Understanding Credit Scores – How it affects your real estate purchase power

How does your FICO affect your purchase powerRemember your credit score indicates your likeliness or willingness to pay and ultimately drives the cost of financing.

Here is how your credit score is calculated:

  • Payment History = 35%
    • Do you pay on time – the single most important factor
  • Amount Owed = 30%
    • Revolving accounts – Keep your credit accounts open and keep the balance below 30% of the credit limit.

These two factors account for 65% of your credit score.

  • Length of Credit History = 15%
    • Longer credit history is better
    • How long have your accounts been open – Keep long established credit lines open. If you must close an account, close the youngest accounts first.
    • How long since you last used them – Use your credit accounts once a quarter while keeping your balance less than 30% of the limit. 
  • New Credit = 10%
    • Short Term Credit Accounts – Opening several credit accounts for short periods of time increases credit risk.
  • Type of Credit in Use (Healthy Mix) = 10%
    • 2 Installment loans
    • 3 Revolving accounts with balances below 30% of the limit
    • No Collections
    • No Foreclosure
    • No Late Payments

There are numerous credit scoring models and for the purposes of this article we will focus on the FICO score. Your FICO score is the score that banks look at when determining your credit worthiness for mortgage borrowing the rate to borrow.

...

When Buying a Home, What is Earnest Money?

What is earnest MoneyIf you have ever purchased a home before, you are likely to be familiar with the term “earnest money”, but not its definition or purpose. So, what is earnest money? Sometimes, what it signifies, and what the amount means, can be a little vague. To make a long story short, the purpose of earnest money is to serve as a deposit on a home you want to buy, and to show the sellers your earnest intent on purchasing the house. It is an initial investment in the purchase of a home.

Typically, the seller specifies the minimum amount of earnest money required for the purchase of the home. When that happens, it makes the whole process easier. But other times, the buyer is required to offer an unspecified amount and this leaves many people with the looming question, “How much earnest money should I put down?” In reality, it depends on the strength of the market. A lot of home sellers will look at the earnest money amount and gauge the buyer’s financially stability. In a weak real estate market where buyers have all the power, sellers cannot be too picky and cannot read too much into the amount offered. In this case, $500-$1000 might be enough.

However, in a stronger market where sellers are receiving dozens of offers, a buyer wants to extend extra-earnest in order to ease any seller worries. While 1% of the purchase price is usually enough, if you have your heart set on a certain property, offering upwards of 2-3% can help tilt the scale in your favor.

No matter the amount offered, many buyers still come back to the looming question of what is earnest money and what happens to it. Like most deposits, the money will go towards the final down payment and closing costs. If, for some reason, the contract on the house falls through, the buyer...

Aggregator Websites: Are they accurate for Denver home values?

Aggregator real estate sitesWebsites like Trulia and Zillow are great real estate resources for a variety of reasons. Both buyers and renters can easily filter through numerous homes and try to pinpoint the one that might be the best fit for them. They allow them a more active way of staying on top of their home search. These sites are also a great resource for sellers, as it allows more exposure for their property and availability to a wider audience. However, these websites like to post their version of information for a home’s Denver home value, and frankly, it is usually an inaccurate home valuation.

If you have ever searched for your home on Zillow, it will give you a rather general number as to what your home worth. Rarely, that number is a pleasant surprise. Overall, these numbers are gross generalizations and can be looked at as more of a marketing tool than an actual, solid figure. That number is designed to draw casual consumers in, sign up for these websites’ services, and begin using the other features Trulia or Zillow offer. It is a business model that works for these sites, but as a consumer, it helps to know the truth.

Zillow Home Price?In order to avoid an inaccurate home valuation, Denver home value should be calculated by professionals. Realtors are experts in the home worth game and are the most reliable source to get a number as to your home’s real worth. They also have access to multiple appraisers...