West Denver Bungalow Is Close to Light Rail Station

This home at 735 Perry Street would make a good starter home or fixer-upper.  Along with a new roof and recently serviced forced-air furnace, the home’s interior just received a new coat of paint. The next owner can freshen things further by refinishing the hardwood floors. The nice-sized yard is fenced and has two sheds and sprinklers both front and back. The exterior needs paint, and the bathroom is dated. Access to the Lakewood Gulch Trail is just two blocks north, and the Perry Street station of the light rail’s W Line is two blocks further north in the Lakewood/Dry Gulch Park.  You can view more photos and take a narrated video tour at www.WestDenverHome.info, or stop by the open house on Saturday, Dec. 15th, 11am to 2pm.  It was just listed this week for $280,000 by David Dlugasch.  Call David at 303-988-4835 to arrange a private showing.
 

Applewood Brick Ranch Has a Finished Walkout Basement

Click on the narrated video tour below to tour this 4-bedroom, 4-bath home at 3315 Beech Court, located in the part of Applewood that’s west of Interstate 70.  It’s near the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, across 32nd Avenue from  Manning Middle School and Maple Grove Elementary, just east of Applewood Golf Course. The Applewood Shopping Center, with its stores and restaurants, is just a half-mile away. With this home’s convenient access to I-70, you can be in downtown Denver in less than 30 minutes or reach the ski slopes of Summit County in about an hour.  After watching the video tour, check out the magazine-quality photos at www.ApplewoodHome.info, then come to the open house on Saturday, Dec. 15th, from noon to 2 pm.  

Should You List Your Home During the Holidays? The Answer May Surprise You

The national real estate media and blogs have finally caught onto something I’ve been saying for several years — that winter, even during the holidays, is a great time to put your home on the market.   The lead article this week on RSImedia’s “Housecall” blog, for example, promotes listing homes during the upcoming holidays, writing as follows:

“With the colder temperatures and many people heading on vacation, it may seem like an inopportune moment to list your house, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Although it’s true that there are fewer buyers looking for a home at this time of year, the pros far outweigh the cons. There are fewer, yet far more serious buyers searching for homes in your market, and there is less competition with fewer homes on the market, and transactions proceed more quickly….”

The blog post gives three reasons why the holidays are a good time to list a home. First, sellers needn’t worry as much about staging the home. “Homebuyers who shop during the off-season are typically very serious about getting into a house. They’re unlikely to waste their time viewing homes that don’t already suit their criteria, and will be able to look past your child’s messy playroom.”

Second, the article states that transactions move more quickly, since inspectors, lenders, appraisers and title companies have less of a backlog.  (Personally, I don’t see this being so significant.)

Third, the article points out what I think is most important — there are fewer homes competing for attention against your home.   Sellers should particularly appreciate the fact that buyers who want to see listings at this time of year are probably serious about buying. “Lookie loos” are most often fair weather visitors. So, fewer people are likely to want to see your home during the holidays, but those who do are typically of the highly qualified and highly motivated variety.

What the RSImedia blog post fails to address is what changed to make the holiday season a good time to list a home, because that wasn’t true years ago.  I believe it is because of how the internet has changed the relationship between buyers and their real estate agents.

In the past, agents would do the looking, contacting their client when they identified a home they think their buyer would like. With today’s MLS systems, agents can enter their buyers’ search criteria into the MLS, which triggers an email alert whenever the system identifies a listing matching those criteria.

Thus, while agents might lose focus from time-to-time, the MLS computer never stops watching and alerting. The minute a suitable listing is entered in the MLS, buyers are alerted.  Some of these folks are sufficiently motivated that if the listing “checks enough of their boxes,” they’ll call their agents to request an immediate showing — even on Christmas eve.

Buyers can set up similar alerts themselves on consumer-facing real estate websites such as Zillow, but they can’t use nearly as many search criteria as their agent can.  For example, I don’t know of a single consumer-facing website that allows a user to search for main-floor master suites, fenced yards, homes with mountain views, or homes with full-but-unfinished basements.  The MLS system on the other hand, allows its member agents to search for all of these criteria – and more.  If it’s a field on the MLS, it can be a search criterion for us agents.

If you aren’t able to search for exactly what you want on those consumer-facing websites, ask us or your agent of choice to set up the search for you.  It doesn’t cost the agent or you anything to create these alerts. 

In previous years I’ve published statistics showing how well listings sell in the winter.  You can find those columns at www.JimSmithColumns.com.

‘Conforming’ Loan Limits Raised

Until recently, the conventional loan limit was $417,000. Anything above that was considered a “jumbo” loan, which had stricter credit requirements and higher interest rates.  But things have changed.

Last week, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government-sponsored entities that purchase the bulk of mortgage loans from lenders, raised that limit to $484,350 for much of the country.  In some regions with higher property values however, including metro Denver, the limit is now $561,200. This is good news for borrowers, as conventional loans allow a smaller down payment percentage versus that of Jumbo loans – as little as 3%.

Contact your mortgage broker to see if it makes sense for you to buy (or sell, for that matter) before mortgage rates rise further. If you don’t have a mortgage broker call us. We can put you in touch with several professionals we know and trust

Readers Offer Suggestions on Making Homes More Resistant to Wildfires

I was pleased to get several responses to last week’s column on protecting homes from wildfires.

One reader suggested that building a house out of concrete might help.  While this is a good idea, remember that such a house would still have a roof and openings for windows and doors that would need to be made as fire-resistant as possible.

Another reader suggested installing outdoor smoke detectors, something that hit close to home with a friend of mine. She said that a firefighter once rang her doorbell to warn her of an approaching wildfire. The moment she opened the door she smelled the smoke, but she hadn’t smelled it when she was indoors. For that matter, why not cell-connect detectors in the forests?

That prompted me to wonder why building codes don’t require smoke detectors in attached garages, but only require that the walls, door and ceiling be fire-rated to extend the time it takes for a garage fire to penetrate the living quarters.

Lastly, one reader pointed out that in a firestorm no measures are likely to prevent a home from being consumed.  So true.

Keep the suggestions coming.  You can comment on this post or comment on the original post from last week. 

Affordable Westminster Condo Just Listed by Chuck Brown

2720 W 86th AveBe sure to check out this move-in ready and affordable 2-bedroom/1bath condo at 2720 W 86th Ave. #69, Westminster. The owners just completed a comprehensive remodel which included a stylish new kitchen, new bathroom, new tile and carpet flooring, and new paint.  The outdoor covered balcony was recently renovated  by the HOA. The location between Hwy. 36 and I-25 makes for an easy commute to Denver or Boulder. This unit is 1,000 sq. ft. and is located on the 2nd floor of the 3-story building. Take a narrated video tour at www.WestminsterCondo.info.  Open house will be Sunday, Dec. 9th, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Or call listing agent Chuck Brown at 303-885-7855 for a private showing.  Listed for only $195,000.

 

Golden Real Estate Offers Help to the California Fire Victims

Do you know someone who has lost their home and its contents in a wildfire? Have them call us, because at last week’s office meeting, the agents at Golden Real Estate decided to serve anyone who lost their home to a wildfire, by donating 100% of our earned commissions to them if they want to relocate to Colorado.

We took this action in recognition of the fact that there is insufficient affordable housing stock in California to accommodate all the people who lost their homes, and that inevitably some will choose to relocate to other states.

This offer is also made to hurricane victims and anyone who lost their entire home to a disaster, including here in Colorado. We do this so the family has money to buy whatever they need to kickstart their new life.

If a California Realtor refers a buyer to us, we won’t ask them to donate their 25% referral fee, because they, too, are suffering terribly — and some of them have lost their own homes and even their brokerages.

We invite other agents and brokerages to follow our lead in helping the victims of such disasters.