It's a Waiting Game... Right?

Do good things always come to those who wait?

We don't think so; especially when it comes to those Coloradans who are actively searching for their next home or condo. Although some buyers worry about the lack of inventory and others are scared away by rising home prices, most are forgetting about one of the most important factors of affordability: interest rates. 

Post-housing crisis, we have taken low interest rates for granted. They haven't always remained this low for so long and they likely won't stay this low for much longer, according to talking heads.

Reuters reports, "Financial markets financial markets saw just a 30 percent chance of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in March; but by Friday after a striking series of comments from Fed officials, including Chair Janet Yellen, traders saw an 80 percent chance."

Most millennials, now the largest age group of home buyers, were probably not even born yet when interest rates were almost 19 percent in the early 1980s. Just imagine how much house could you buy if interest rates returned to that level at the next policy meeting on March 14-15.

We're not saying they are going to jump 15 percent anytime soon, but with the DOW hitting record highs, unemployment shrinking, and the economy fairing quite well as of late, the Federal Reserve has to feel more comfortable raising interest rates now than they would have 4 to 5 years ago.  

According to The New York Times, Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen says the Fed is likely to raise interest rates next week. As of Tuesday, Bloomberg has indicated a 98 percent probability that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its March meeting. 

Locking your rate today and buying soon could potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your loan. Now is the time to write and submit your strong offers. You're only going to be able to afford less and less as interest rates increase.

Contact TRELORA today to get those offers out while interest rates are still low!

customerservice@trelora.com | 303.886.3000

TRELORA v. REALTORS®: Who is right for you?

Many have asked, "How are you different from a traditional REALTOR®?" Being that our name TRELORA is the word "REALTOR®" jumbled up, we'd like to tell you just how different (and better) we are for you when you're selling your next home.

Below is a sample Listing Agreement our sellers sign to reference as we explain the stark differences (and similarities) when it comes to service, pricing and contract terms. Bear with us - we tried to keep this short, but there's too many awesome things about TRELORA.

 

SERVICE

With TRELORA, you’ll always receive first-rate service. Your home will be marketed, added to the MLS and your showings will be managed by us. You will get the best price for your home with our expert negotiating skills and we’ll walk you through the inspection, appraisal and closing better than any other REALTOR® you’ll speak with. Read our reviews on GoogleFacebookBBBZillow or Yelp.

  • Check out sections 4. BROKERAGE RELATIONSHIP, 5. BROKERAGE DUTIES, 6. ADDITIONAL DUTIES OF SELLER’S AGENT and 9. OTHER BROKERS’ ASSISTANCE, MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICES AND MARKETING

 

PRICING YOUR HOME

TRELORA's Home Advisor Agents, our pricing experts, price approximately 800 homes per year and will always get you the most money in the sale of your home. 

  • Check out section 11. PRICE AND TERMS

 

SELLER’S AGENT COMMISSION

With us, you’ll pay one flat fee instead of the “traditional commission” amounting to 3% of your home price. That’s $12,000 on a $400,000 home. At that rate, you’ll save $9,500 with our flat fee of $2,500.

  • Check out section 7. COMPENSATION TO BROKERAGE FIRM

 

BUYER’S AGENT COMMISSION

TRELORA allows you to decide, with our advice and guidance, how much commssion the buyer's agent should be paid. Traditionally it's set to 3% of your home price, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you offered $2,500 to a buyer’s agent instead, you'd save another $9,500 on the sale of a $400,000 home. Keep in mind, buyer’s agents’ commissions are negotiable.

  • Check out section 7.2. Cooperative Broker Compensation

 

LISTING TERM AGREEMENT

Unlike traditional REALTORS® who typically make you sign a 6-month listing agreement and add a holdover clause of 30 days (which means you can’t list with anyone else for a certain period of time), there are no risks or hidden long-term liabilities with TRELORA. You can terminate at any time for any reason - no questions asked, no further obligations.

  • Check out section 28. ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS

TRELORA is the smart way to buy and sell real estate. When considering your options, use these facts to make sure you are protected when you sell your home. Learn more tips on how to interview a REALTOR® here. Remember, all commissions and listing terms are negotiable.

 

SAMPLE LISTING AGREEMENT

Realtor or Real Estate Agent: What's the Difference?

When you want to list your current home or purchase your next home, you want a qualified professional to assist with the process. For the typical homeowner, behind-the-scenes titles and politics mean very little. So what is the deal - are all licensed real estate agents Realtors? And, what does this distinction mean for you as a consumer? 

Q: Are all licensed real estate agents Realtors? 

A: No.

In order to earn a real estate license in any given state, a person must complete the required number of educational hours and pass the state licensing exam. E&O coverage (errors and omissions insurance) is required and in addition, continuing education is required on an annual basis. Learn more about Colorado licensing requirements for the real estate industry here.Not all agents are Realtors. "Realtor" is a trademarked term used to refer to a real estate agent who is an active member of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the largest trade association in the United States. 

Q: Trade association ... that sounds a little boring. Why should I care? 

A: In order to make an informed decision about your next real estate transaction, you should understand the purpose of a trade association (like NAR).

This will help you decide whether a real estate agent's status as a Realtor is important to your deal. 

The purpose of a trade association is to bring together members of an industry (real estate is just one example) to develop policies that benefit the industry, to ensure the industry is promoted in a positive light and to lobby the government on behalf of the industry through political action committees like RPAC, the REALTORS(r) Political Action Committee. In fact, 42 cents of every dollar spent on NAR dues goes to lobbying efforts, and NAR is the largest direct financial contributor to federal political candidates. 

Consumers do benefit from the work of trade associations, but it is important to know that the purpose of any trade association's activities (NAR included) is the machination of positive industry PR, the squelching of negative coverage of the industry, and powerful lobbying action toward achieving political movement in favor of the industry and those working within it. 

Q: So where's the beef? What should I do with this information? 

A: Speaking of beef, when you head to your favorite steakhouse, do you ask yourself, "I wonder if the rancher who raised the fine cow I'm about to partake of is part of the American Cattleman's Association? 

Or, for the vegetarians among you, "Did this tomato come from a Tomato Farmers of America associated farm?" Probably not. 

So, what really matters to you when planning your next home sale or purchase?

Does it matter whether your agent has an official gold name tag or membership in a special club, as long as he or she is qualified to do the job? Fair pricing, transparency, honesty, timely communication and results are what matters, and the behind-the-scenes politicking of NAR has everything to do with protecting the interests of a 100 year old industry and very little to do with your personal real estate transaction.  

TRELORA offers commission free service for Denver area buyers and sellers. Transparent real estate transactions for busy people who want the best technology, a knowledgeable team to back up the deal, and a positive result at the end of the day. Our clubhouse is open to the public and we are here to help clients retain more of their hard-earned home equity through flat fee service and great technology. 

If you are blinded enough by the shiny gold badge of yore to pay the inflated commissions that often accompany the Realtor designation, carry on! If, on the other hand, you want expert real estate service and you want to keep more of your hard earned home equity right where it belongs - in your own pocket - you should consider TRELORA.

We're the future of real estate, taking (non-political) action to successfully close your real estate deal and save you money. 

How to Win in a Bidding War

In today’s hot real estate market, it seems like a rarity to come across a home that doesn’t have multiple offers within hours of going on the market. As a buyer, you need all the help you can get, which is why we’ve put together a list of things you can do to help put the seller in your corner.

 

Here are 5 ways to get your offer signed:

1. Write a Letter to the Seller
Connecting with the seller on a personal level can really set you apart. Can you imagine your kids playing soccer in their backyard like they did? Mention that in your appeal to the seller’s soft side. Including a picture of your family helps a seller put a face to a name, making that extra special connection.

2. Guarantee Your Offer
Homes these days are selling for more than their appraised value because of the bidding wars. Providing a guarantee to the seller that you’ll pay them the under contract price even if the appraisal doesn’t come in at value can make your offer that much stronger.

3. Know Your Limits
Another contract clause you can provide to make your offer stronger is an escalation clause, which effectively means you’ll match or exceed any other offer by a fixed amount (example: $5,000 above any other offer). You can specify the maximum amount you will offer to keep you from going over your budget.

4. Sweeten the Deal for the Seller
TRELORA buyers have extra buying power because they get back the difference between the commission offered to the Buyer’s Agent and our flat fee of $2,500. That’s $5,900 on a $300,000 home. TRELORA buyers can give that credit to the Seller or Seller’s agent to make their offer $5,900 stronger than a competing offer with the same purchase price. Essentially, the Seller would net more cash with your offer.

5. Be Flexible on When You Take Possession
On occasion, a seller will need to stay in the home after the sale of the home final. Offering flexibility with that time can set you apart from the competition. The maximum number of days for a rent-back agreement is 60 days in Colorado, which means you won’t have to wait too long before moving into your new home and you could be helping the seller out.

 

TRELORA is Your Wingman

To help you compete in today’s hot market, your Buy Team is forging close relationships with local listing agents to help your home purchase go smoothly from start to finish. We help you save money and get you your dream home. TRELORA is real estate on your terms.

Contact us today to find out how much buying power you'll have when purchasing your next home with TRELORA.

The Ultimate Guide to Selling Your Home for Max Value

You’ve made the big decision to sell your home--congratulations! Now, one of the most common thoughts that come to mind after making this decision is, "How can I sell my home for the most money in this market?" Here are the top 4 things you can do to make sure you sell for max value.

1. The price is right

The absolute most important part of getting your home sold (especially in this red-hot Denver market) is pricing your home right. When you hire your agent or brokerage to represent you, they will run a comparative market analysis (CMA) to give you a data-driven recommended price. They will evaluate the recently sold homes in your area, take into account days their on market and the condition of your home.

If you overprice your home, your home can sit longer and you run the risk of going stale on the market. Buyers will wonder why your home has been on the market for more than 10 days in the condition of Denver’s real estate market. 

2. Get the right agent for you

Real estate agents are not few and far between. That's why it's critical to do your research and make sure they are someone you want to work with for the next 60-90 days. If you want to save the equity you've built in your home, it's important to ask the agent, "How much are you charging to sell my home?"

3. From the outside looking in

The ultimate goal is to give prospective buyers a blank canvas so they can begin to picture living in your home. As soon as they walk in the door they’re probably thinking, “Will my couch fit against that wall? How is my bed going to fit in that space?”

Homeowners can sometimes get carried away with making improvements like changing out the lighting and plumbing fixtures or replacing the cabinetry before putting their home on the market. The challenge with that is not every buyer’s taste is the same. A fresh coat of neutral-colored paint can go a long way in making the home feel updated. If you’re going to go the extra mile, we suggest starting with the two main rooms buyers pay attention to: the kitchen and the master suite. That’s a sure way to impress potential buyers.

4. First impressions count -- a lot

It’s human nature to begin evaluating and formulating an opinion on something as soon as we see it. That’s why it’s important to make a great first impression with your home’s curb appeal. The price range for updating your landscaping can be anything from a couple hundred dollars to… well, you name it.

Keep in mind that the same rule for updating the inside applies to updating the exterior of your home: your style will not necessarily be the same as the person looking at your home. Simplicity can go a long way.

We hope you learned a few tips on getting your home ready for the market and selling for max value! If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends and comment below with suggestions for our next article.

Happy Selling!

Knowledge is Power, Knowledge is Your Money

What is the commission you pay to a real estate agent on a house? Most would say 6%, split between the buyer’s and seller’s agent, but what if you knew that it was all negotiable? And, you could save some of that money to buy more house or keep your hard-earned equity?

Over the years, the real estate industry has created the belief that there is a “standard commission”. While some homeowners don’t mind paying that rate because they believe their agent has earned it, most would be happy to know they could negotiate that commission to benefit them in their home buying or selling process.

With the use of technology, homebuyers are able to find their dream home online easier than ever before. Why would you have to pay a REALTOR® 3% if you found your own home? Some would say it is because of the work that goes into it after you are under contract, not just opening a door, and to that we say “touche” but a question to ask yourself when it comes to commissions is, “Is my agent truly earning their commission check?”

On a home that is $400,000, with the buyer's REALTOR® making 2.8% commission (the “standard commission” in Colorado), that equates to $11,200. On a home that is $850,000, the REALTOR®would make 2.8% commission, totaling $23,800. Why should an agent who is going through the same procedures for a homebuyer on a $850,000 home as the $400,000 home earn $12,600 more?

These days there are quite a few brokerages that are offering their services for a flat fee vs the “standard commission”. If you are a buyer who is looking at a home listing that is offering less than 2.8% commission (ask your agent if they don't tell you!), the sellers probably know that commissions are negoitable and are trying to save their hard earned equity - just like you could.

What you should also know is you don’t have to pay the difference to get your agent 2.8% commission. A REALTOR® can take a reduced commission and we see quite a few agents who do in order to get the deal done for their client.

REALTORS® have been known to tell a homebuyer, “Don’t worry about the commission, the seller pays it anyways.” If that is indeed the case, you should ask them to take a commission less than 2.8% to strengthen your offer. Some will say “OK” and unfortunately some will say the dreaded line, “If they don’t pay me the 2.8% commission, you owe me the difference,” which then voids their statement of “Don’t worry about the commission, the seller pays it anyways.”

Did you know that there are many ways you can either save your equity or buy more home? If you are a seller, you can negotiate the listing agent commission as well as the commission you are offering the buyer agent who successfully brings a buyer! You can use those savings for retirement, your kid's tuition, or our personal favorite... a kitchen remodel! Also, if you are a buyer and searching for a home, you can submit an offer with a reduced commission to strengthen your offer, or you can negotiate the commission with your buyer agent. If they are offering 2.8%, you can use the excess to pay for your closing costs or reduce the amount of your loan. Who doesn’t love a smaller mortgage payment!?

It is always best to ask as many questions as you can, so you can be fully equipped with the most information before purchasing something, especially a home! Buying a home is a big investment and selling your home is stressful enough without thinking about how much you’re spending on a REALTOR® vs the actual house. We believe you should always live in curiosity, and you shouldn’t let anyone else tell you how you spend your money. Knowledge is power and in this case, knowledge is money.

Live in the light, not the dark.

For more information on how you can talk with your agent about commissions, visit www.trelora.com/twya.

Removing Barriers, Reducing Stress

Why can you chat with someone on Craigslist before you buy their car, but you can't chat with someone online before you buy their house? Seems silly, doesn't it? So we decided to do something about it.

In comes TRELORA Connect: the only way for home buyers and sellers to chat anonymously online BEFORE they go under contract. TRELORA Connect was created to give the power and control of the real estate process back to the people who deserve it the most: the buyer and the seller.

Here are the top 5 reasons to use TRELORA Connect:

  1. Buyers can get accurate answers. Nobody knows the home better than the seller, not even their agent.
  2. Buyers can get basic questions answered quickly instead of relying on a game of telephone (buyer to selling agent to listing agent to seller AND BACK).
  3. Sellers can initiate conversations with buyers who are looking for a home that matches their home's description.
  4. Buyers and sellers can form a relationship early on in the process. They aren't just two people behind walls created by their agents. 
  5. Buyers and sellers endure less stress throughout the process. Negotiations, the inspection process, and everything else goes much smoother and gets resolved with much less friction when the buyer and seller already have a rapport with one another.
  6. One of the great features of TRELORA Connect is that users can turn it on and off at any time. If at any point a buyer or seller feels uncomfortable with the questions being asked, such as "will you take $395,000 for your home," their TRELORA team can jump in and handle the negotiations. If the messages become too plentiful or cumbersome, users can just flip the switch in their MyTRELORA account and those messages and inquiries will be handled by their dedicated TRELORA team members.

To enjoy the many benefits of TRELORA Connect, visit our search site and log in or sign up for a My TRELORA account. You can turn on TRELORA Connect in your account settings and set up a search to receive daily updates with new listings that meet your criteria. Happy chatting!

A Buyer’s Guide: Preparing to Close

You’ve gone under contract on a home, completed the home inspection, negotiated the Inspection Objection and the property has passed your lender’s appraisal. Now what?

Waiting to close can be an anxious time for some buyers. Depending on the status of your financing, you may still be jumping through hoops to provide the documentation the lender requires to move forward with the loan. If you currently have a house on the market, you may be waiting for your own offer to come through before you can close on your future home. Setting aside any unusual contingencies you may have in place for the transaction, there are several commonalities most buyers will experience as they approach the scheduled closing date.

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Title Insurance

Welcome to the wonderful world of title insurance! The title company will research the current property deed and all attachments thereto in regard to the property you are purchasing to ensure the title is “clean” (or "clear") and to appropriately set you up for taking title of the property. The work of the title company is vital to ensuring you are moving forward soundly with the purchase and no one will come out of the woodwork later with a prior claim to the property you thought you owned. The title company will assist you on closing day and communicate with you in advance to ensure they are setting up your legal documentation appropriately.

Property Insurance

Your lender will require you to secure home owner’s insurance as part of the transaction, and depending on where you are buying a home, you may be required to pay for additional provisions such as flood insurance or additional hail coverage. Talk to several carriers - including your current auto or renter’s insurance provider - about coverage, rates discounts available for using the same provider for home and auto.

Read the documentation you receive about your proposed coverage carefully, and ask questions. If your basement floods due to a burst pipe, who is liable for the repairs and water remediation? Will your possessions be covered, or just the property, and what is the value of this coverage? If your dog bites a neighbor and you are sued, will your homeowner’s insurance back you up? How much will you have to pay out of pocket if a significant section of shingles blows off your roof in a storm? Don’t wait until you have a claim – take time now to learn how your home owner’s insurance policy will protect you – and where there are gaps. Knowledge is power and lack of it, in this case, can lead to pitfalls.

Utility Transfer

Some title companies will take care of transferring the majority of the utilities for you, but in some locations this is not the case, and you will need to arrange for the transfer of utilities into your name. Even if the title company is making these updates on your behalf, you’ll want to change your address of record with your mobile carrier, the phone company and cable or satellite provider. Find out in advance how soon you need to schedule these changes – if you rely on internet service at home for work purposes, for instance, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have a gap. If you have additional services to consider, such as private trash collection services, you’ll want to make arrangements a week or two before closing.

Notify Postal Service

Contact the post office to arrange for a change of address as of your closing date and to have all mail forwarded here. If you are renting, make sure your landlord has your new contact information in case any mail falls through the cracks and needs to be forwarded. If you are selling your current home, you may want to share your forwarding address with the buyer, if you are comfortable doing so. That way you won’t miss important correspondence from the IRS or your good friend Publisher’s Clearing House.

Closing Funds

If you are paying closing costs, the remaining balance on your down payment, a buydown of your interest rate, or have purchased personal property from the seller outside of the contract (an item of furniture or an appliance not included in the contract, for example), you’ll need to obtain a cashier’s check for the appropriate amount(s) to bring to closing; personal checks are rarely accepted. The earnest money you included with your offer will be attributed to this amount, and the accounting for this will show up on your Good Faith Estimate.

Complete Your Final Walk Through

The day before or day of closing, you’ll want to walk through the property to ensure all agreed-upon repairs have been complete and that all inclusions (appliances, window treatments, light fixtures, furniture, etc.) are in place. If repairs have not been completed to your satisfaction or items are missing, your team can arrange to have these item(s) handled financially by the seller via a price reduction or credit at closing, or the closing can be postponed until the repairs are complete or the items in question are restored to the property.

Closing Day

 

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You’ll meet with the closer for the title company, a member of your TRELORA Team and your lender at the closing appointment. You will receive the final copy of your Good Faith Estimate (sometimes called the Loan Estimate) as well as the HUD. Closing can be as quick as 20 minutes or as long as a couple of hours if the title company is waiting for the funding for your loan to come through, and you are welcome and encouraged to ask questions as you sign the various documents that are part of your closing. Congratulations – you’re a homeowner!

A Seller’s Guide: The Seller’s Property Disclosure

Have you ever bought a car from a “friend of a friend of a friend” that turned out to be a lemon 4 months later? How did you feel about the guy who sold you the car? 

Don’t be that guy. 

The Seller’s Property Disclosure is intimidating for some Sellers – and we get it. But the thing about a few sheets of paper is – they don’t bite! And when you take a step back, take a deep breath and realize how easy it is to just state the facts and nothing but the facts on this and other sellers disclosure forms – you’ll see that completing the Seller’s Property Disclosure is just another step in the process of selling your home. Let’s demystify the process a bit – shall we? 

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On your property disclosure, the state of Colorado requires disclosure on the following items: 

H2O: 

The source of water and any related issues must be disclosed. City water or well? Any defects or concerns with a well should be disclosed. No need to guess – if there is an issue and you know about it, state what you know in the simplest terms possible. We’ll talk later about what to do if you kinda sorta think something might be going on.  

HOA: 

If your property is part of an HOA or any other Common Interest Community (hint: if you pay dues or follow rules of any type based on an organization in your neighborhood or community, it is a CIC and should be disclosed.) You not only need to indicate that your property is part of an HOA on the Seller's Property Disclosure, but you are required to send all relevant HOA documents to your listing agent prior to going active on the market.

Construction Projects: 

If a new road is planned for a few months after the closing and you know about it (you’ve gotten a letter or other confirmation), disclose it. If you’ve heard unconfirmed rumors about a road or other transportation project in the vicinity, no need to disclose. There might someday be teleportation device straight to Mars in your backyard – but dreaming doesn’t make it so, therefore no need to disclose. 

Meth Lab: 

If you or your cousin Bubba have now, or in the past, run a meth lab out of your home… well – you’ve probably got bigger problems than selling the house, but you really ought to come clean about it on the property disclosure. All joking aside, if your home was once the site of a methamphetamine laboratory and has undergone a qualified, complete remediation, you do not have to include this information on the Seller’s Property Disclosure. 

Other items covered on the Seller’s Property Disclosure:

Appliances: 

If your dishwasher is on the fritz, the Buyer will find out during the Inspection. Just write it down and keep on truckin’. 

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The Roof: 

If you’ve made repairs to the roof, note them. Provide receipts for the work as you are able. Disclosing damage you have repaired is a positive signal to the Buyer that you are on the up and up; they’ll feel good about the transaction and your willingness to be forthcoming. 

Heating, Plumbing, Electrical: 

Same deal. If you’ve had work done, disclose it. If you know there is a major issue, like the electrical is not to code, or maybe you were informed of the need to replace large portions of the plumbing when you purchased the home, and you never completed the work; bite the bullet and disclose this information. You can’t unknow this kind of information, and ethically you are bound to disclose. 

Other: 

Ah – the nebulous “other” realm of the Seller’s Property Disclosure. This is the spot for everything not specifically outlined elsewhere on the property disclosure. A good rule of thumb here is: If you would want to know about a particular issue regarding a home you were about to purchase, you should consider disclosing the issue. Items here include zoning issues, boundary disputes, insect infestations… Another thing to consider? If you’ve got ants, get rid of them. If you take care of the problem, you won’t have anything to disclose. Don’t defer maintenance if you are selling your home – fix issues you can afford to fix before the listing goes live. 

Try not to get too flustered when you reach the notorious "Section M."

What you do NOT have to disclose:

Conjecture, "what ifs," and "maybes" do not belong on the seller’s disclosure form. If you have actual, factual knowledge of a defect or issue with your home, state it clearly and simply on the form. Otherwise, keep calm and carry on. And don’t feel pressured to answer every query on the form. If you do not know about the state of an item on the Seller’s Property Disclosure, check “do not know.” It’s okay not to know. 

The Seller’s Property Disclosure covers your home top to bottom, interior and exterior – and it will start to feel a bit tedious by the end. Don’t give up! Answer briefly and honestly and disclose only what you actually know. When you are forthcoming about the state of your home and any existing issues, you can be confident as the deal progresses – and the buyer will be, too. 

Winter Is Coming... 5 Ways to Prepare Your Home for the Impending Chill

Although it’s still a whopping 78 degrees outside in Denver, the foliage is kindly reminding us that it’s time to prepare our homes for the colder weather which will be upon us shortly. Here are a few low-cost tips and tricks to help you brace for the cold and save you some cash this winter.

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1. Get Your Windows & Doors Ready

Your heating dollars could be going out the window if you have tiny unsuspecting leaks or holes letting the hot air out. Control heat from escaping your home and reduce your bill with these nifty tips for your windows and doors.

If there are gaps in the trim, you can put rope caulking (mortite) inside the window cases and along the cracks of the outside window frame. Alternatively, you can take some good ol’ cotton balls and tweezers and shove them into the gaps or cracks where you feel air coming in.

Keep your curtains open during the day to let the sun heat up your home and close them at night to help retain heat. If you’ve got some room in your budget, you can change out your curtains to a heavier fabric to help keep the heat in. Plus, you can decorate your home for the season with new window dressings in fall hues. When in doubt, you can turn on your ceiling fans to help keep the warm air directed towards the inside of the house instead of escaping out the windows.

Install weatherstripping and a door sweep in order to seal up those cracks. Check with your local hardware store (or Google) to determine what type of weatherstripping you’ll need. These quick, affordable fixes are easy to do and will be extremely effective for you in the long run.

Image via Gutter Helmet

Image via Gutter Helmet

2. Clean Your Gutters

Get rid of any buildup or blockages when the last leaf falls! Eliminate the possibility of flooding (and unwanted costs) by taking less than an hour of your day to attend to your gutters. Avoiding this task can result in mold and pollen, foundation damage, pest invasion, ice dams, and more.

Quick note: Make sure you gather all your tools outside and a sturdy ladder before approaching this task. It can get messy and you don’t want to track dirt in and out of your home. Also, if you take a garden hose to the little bits and pieces at the end you can make sure your gutters are super clean and the downspouts have good clearance at the same time.

This tutorial from PlanItDIY has a helpful video and explains clearly how to attack this task.

Image via Mother Earth News

Image via Mother Earth News

 

 

3. Ready the Furnace

This is a simple yet important step in preparing your home for the winter. Two critical parts to this step are changing your furnace filter and installing a programmable thermostat. Not only will changing your filter save you money by keeping your furnace running at peak efficiency, you’ll also reduce the amount of pollutants entering your home, sweet home. You can also extend the life of your furnace by making sure you take care of this task periodically. Check out this tutorial from The Family Handyman so you can do it all by yourself!

Next, install a programmable thermostat. They’re easy to install and there is no shortage of YouTube tutorials that can help you out if the written instructions aren’t enough. With simple programmables costing as low as $20 or a Nest Learning Thermostat running you $250 per unit, there are plenty of options to suit your financial needs.

4. Prep the Fireplace

Make sure your fireplace is cleaned and functioning properly by inspecting it thoroughly. Check the exterior part of the fireplace to ensure the chimney cap is present and in good condition. If this critical part is missing, you can expect flooding in your house and a whole lot of mess. Side note: this metal piece makes sure snow, rain and other debris doesn’t get into your chimney and also prevents sparks from landing on your roof, possibly creating a fire situation.

Take a flashlight and inspect the inside of the fireplace. Check to make sure it is free from combustible materials such as a bird’s nest and the flue opens, closes and seals well. If you do this during the day you should be able to see daylight when looking through an open damper.

Make sure to keep the damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. This can be a major source of heat escaping your home, thus making your bill much more damaging than necessary.

Home Depot created a handy video that walks you through the steps to get your fireplace ready.

5. Clean & Prepare Yard Equipment

Who hasn’t heard the old adage, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail?” Well, when it comes to snow in Colorado - or basically anywhere where it snows - you can bet this will be relevant very soon. Not only should you make sure to clean your spring-summer tools before putting them away, you should also prepare your snow-clearing equipment before the first snow falls. This way you won’t be overwhelmed when there’s a surprise flurry. Plus, your spring equipment will be quietly waiting, all clean and ready.

Comment below with additional tips & tricks that you've found useful in your winter-prep routine! Let us know if you have suggestions for more blog posts that you would like to see from the TRELORA Team.

*Disclaimer: any mention of businesses or trades is not an endorsement by TRELORA.

A Buyer's Guide: The Home Inspection

Whether you are in the market for a one bedroom condo or a sprawling 5 bedroom house in the suburbs, your home is likely to be the biggest financial investment you make. Knowing you’ll be spending a hefty portion of your hard-earned income on mortgage payments every month, it makes sense to give your dream home a thorough inspection before you sign on the dotted line. A home inspection is not a guarantee that your home will never have problems; parts wear out, pests move in, occasionally the creek will rise…there are some things you can’t prevent when you own a home, but understanding the inner workings of the home you are about to purchase will allow you to adjust your offer if necessary, walk away if disaster is lurking – and give you a working understanding of your home’s construction and the systems therein. You might not know how to change a tire on your car, and you don’t have to know how to fix the furnace in your home, either. But you do want to be informed enough to perform (or hire out) basic maintenance on your home and spot challenges before they turn into disasters.

No house is perfect...

...and you should attend the inspection of your home expecting that something will come up. Even brand new construction often pops up with an issue or two at inspection. You’ll want to hire a licensed, experienced home inspector with a history in Colorado and/or specific history in your area of town. An experienced inspector will be knowledgeable about builders in your area, water quality, soil make-up and how it might affect your home’s foundation in the future, radon issues and more. The following checklist is not intended as a replacement for a professional home inspection, and should not be used as such. You should hire licensed, ASHI certified home inspector to complete a professional inspection of your home.

Your home inspection will cover the following areas:

Exterior – Grounds

  • Sprinkler systems.

  • Proper grading/drainage away from the home.

  • State of trees/shrubs (dead trees, etc. will be noted).

  • Driveways/sidewalks.

  • Fencing.

  • Sheds or other outbuildings.

  • Signs of pest concerns (termites, wasps, etc.).

Exterior – Structure

  • Siding/paint/stucco – no blistering, cracks, peeling paint. The home pictured here had loose siding, improper flashing, and windows approaching the end of their usable life at the time of the home inspection.

  • Visual inspection of the foundation.

  • Masonry (brick or stone façade or decorative work).

  • Windows/Doors/Wood Trim.

Roof

Depending on the weather, construction of your home and the inspector’s policy regarding roofs – he or she may climb up on the roof or they may simply climb up on a ladder to complete a visual inspection. If your home is older or there are concerns regarding the roof, it may be worth spending extra for a thorough, hands-on inspection with a qualified roof inspector. Talk to your inspector about this when you schedule your inspection and during the home inspection. Discuss concerns with your team here at TRELORA to ensure all inspections of the property are scheduled in line with dates agreed upon in your Contract to Buy and Sell.

  • Wood or composite shingles will be checked for damage or age.

  • Soffits and fascia will be checked for decay or staining.

  • Exterior venting around eaves.

  • Gutters.

  • Chimneys (again – if you are purchasing an older home or the Seller’s Property Disclosure mentions issues with the chimney or fireplace, this may merit an additional or more thorough inspection).

Interior

  • Floors/walls/ceilings checked for stains.

  • Flooring in good condition.

  • No major cracks in walls or ceilings.

  • Windows/doors functioning properly, no broken/cracked panes in windows or fogginess from broken seals.

  • Paint/wall coverings in good condition.

  • Trim installed properly and in good condition.

  • Lights/switches/ceiling fans operating properly.

  • Outlets grounded and working properly – adequate number per room.

  • Heating/cooling source present and functioning in living/bedroom spaces.

  • Adequate insulation in walls and attic spaces.

  • Fireplace – no cracking or damage, damper operating properly, flue clean and lined properly.

Kitchen   

  • Exhaust fan in working order and properly vented.

  • GFCI protection for electrical outlets in place.

  • Garbage disposal functioning properly.

  • Dishwasher running/draining properly.

  • No evidence of leaks near or under sink; adequate water flow.

  • Refrigerator, stove, any built-in appliances operating properly.

  • Cabinet doors/drawers/hardware in good condition, operating properly.

Bathrooms

  • Working exhaust fan with proper termination (not in the attic).

  • Adequate flow/pressure/temperature to all fixtures.

  • Sink/tub/shower drain properly.

  • Plumbing/cabinet floor under sink in good condition.

  • Toilet – operates properly and is stable, no stains around base.

  • Tile/caulking surrounding tub or shower in good condition.

  • No evidence of past leaking around bath or shower.

Basement

  • Foundation – no stains, cracks, flaking or efflorescence (crumbly, salt-like residue from former moisture issues). The inspector who performed the inspection tied to the photos above recorded: "Cracking and damage noted on concrete foundation walls, potentially compromising the structural integrity of the concrete walls."

  • No evidence of moisture.

  • No sagging or evidence of pests or moisture on visible structural wood.

  • Finished spaces will be inspected to the same standard as all other interior spaces.

Plumbing

  • Plumbing below kitchen sinks will be assessed to ensure proper working order. For example, flexible-type drain lines (see above) can catch debris and clog; an inspector may recommend replacement with a rigid pipe by a plumber.

  • Visible pipes will be inspected for damage or evidence of leaks; nearby material will be examined for evidence of past or current leaks; all drainage pipes should slope properly toward sewage/septic systems.

  • Water heater should show no signs of rust or efflorescence; should be of adequate size to serve the number of bedrooms in the house.

  • Water pump: does not short cycle.

  • Galvanized pipes do not restrict water flow.

  • Well water (if applicable) is acceptable; this is an area for potential further testing.

Electrical

  • Visible wiring is in good condition, no evidence of knob and tube wiring; cables secure and protected.

  • Electrical panel in good working order and showing adequate capacity; no evidence of haphazard DIY methods of set up; fuses and breakers not overheating. Dated electrical panels, such as the one shown above, pose a potential hazard and will incur a replacement cost to the buyer down the road.

  • No aluminum cable for branch circuits.

  • Outlets are grounded and installed properly; there are no apparent issues (such as the charred outlet in the photo above).

HVAC (Heating and Cooling Systems)

  • Forced air systems operate well throughout the home – all levels, all rooms.

  • No rust around cooling unit.

  • No combustion gas odor.

  • Air filter is clean.

  • Ductwork is in good condition.

  • No asbestos present on heating pipes, water pipes or air ducts.

  • Outdoor cooling unit is stable and flat – not angled to one side.

Other

  • Smoke/Carbon Monoxide detectors functioning and in place where required by local building codes.

  • Stairway treads/risers/carpeting solidly in place.

  • Handrails in place and stable where needed.

  • Garage door opener works, garage door safety measures are in place and functioning.

  • Door to garage and materials therein are to code in terms of fire safety.

  • Basement living/sleeping spaces offer adequate egress windows to code.

  • Neighbors are friendly and likely to invite you over for coffee (just kidding – no real test exists for pleasant neighbors; we wanted to make sure you were still paying attention!).

  • Radon Inspection is an additional facet of the home inspection that typically costs more, but most qualified inspectors can add this to your inspection for a fee. This is an issue in Colorado – so do your research and carefully consider whether you should inspect the home for high levels of radon.

Once you have the Inspection Report in hand, you will work with your team here at TRELORA to determine what, if anything, you should request from the seller.

As an example, if it turns out the furnace will sputter and die any day now, you may want to ask for a replacement before closing. Alternatively you could ask for an adjustment of the purchase price or, if you have already negotiated a killer deal and you know the seller may not want to give you a new furnace, you could ask them to meet you halfway on the cost of a replacement.If the guest bedroom is neon green with purple carpet, you are going to have to paint that room and replace some carpet. And won’t it be fun to make your house your own after closing? Likewise a dripping faucet, a loose kitchen cabinet door or a couple of carpet stains are things you may consider tackling post-closing.

You can ask for the moon in your Inspection Objection to the seller, but you want to approach the seller with the Golden Rule in mind: do unto the seller as you would have them do unto you. Some items are a deal breaker (mold throughout the basement, for example, will require a mold remediation or you may even want to back out of the deal) and some issues (a non-working dishwasher or worn carpet in the living room) can be easily be worked out between you and the seller – or resolved on your own after closing.

We’ll be here to guide your response to the seller after your Home Inspection, and to help you negotiate the best possible amendments to the contract based on what comes up. The Home Inspection is a phenomenal opportunity to test drive a home before you buy, and it is a vital step in the home purchase process.

Top 6 Equity-Building Home Improvements

This time of year finds homeowners flocking to big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes for everything from nifty to dispensers to brand new kitchens; before you blow the bank (or your sizeable commission-free TRELORA savings) on granite counters or a bathtub the size of a swimming pool, learn which home improvements actually net homeowners the biggest return on investment.

The list may surprise you!

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2016 Core vs. Value Report:

6 and 4: A New Front Door

6: Updating your front entry door with a fiberglass model will set you back a little more than $3,000 in most places, with a return rate of 82% when you sell your home.

4: A steel entry door is significantly cheaper at just $1335 on average, and the return rate is even higher at 91%. (This more affordable // highly sellable options gets our thumbs up!)

5: Minor Kitchen Remodel - $20,000 national average

You knew this one would be on the list. What you might not know is while a minor kitchen remodel is likely to recoup an 83% return on investment, a major kitchen overhaul (coming in at a whopping $60K on average!) will probably only bring a 65% return. Kitchens are important - they sometimes make the sale; but don’t overspend. And if your home has 4 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and a middle-of-the-road kitchen? Leave the kitchen be and add a bathroom, especially if you plan to live in this house for several years. Buyers can live with a ho-hum kitchen, but many family buyers won’t even bother to look at a home with just one bathroom.  

3: Garage Door Replacement

With an average national price tag of just over $1600 and a return rate of nearly 92%, replacing a dated or unattractive garage door with a newer version is a good home improvement bet and can change the entire character of your curb appeal. If replacement isn’t in the budget, consider painting the door (do it right and hire a pro if you’re not up for it) or adding window panes - real or faux.

2: Manufactured Stone Veneer

This exterior element is a popular option in suburban Denver, adding a rugged, natural appeal to homes that might otherwise read as “boring suburban square.” The cost of this feature is around $7,500 on average, and you can expect to recoup about 93% of your investment. If you are considering an overall curb appeal upgrade, spending another $2500 on landscaping for a total investment of $10K could give your home a major exterior facelift that could result in excellent future returns, and you’ll enjoy pulling into the driveway every day when you’ve got a great looking house to come home to.

1: Fiberglass Attic Insulation

Coming in as the UNsexiest possible renovation category of all time (and new to the list this year) is fiberglass attic insulation. You know - the paper-backed cotton candy looking concoction that’ll make you itch if you touch it (because fiberglass), but keeps your home cozy and your heating and cooling bills in line. The average cost of adding fiberglass fill on top of existing attic insulation to an insulation value of R-30 is just under $1300, but the return rate is an impressive 117% within a year of installation. Not planning a move anytime soon? It’s still a good investment, since you’ll save on utilities year after year while you live in the home.

If you are contemplating a home renovation, spend time perusing the 2016 Core vs. Value Report. You can search for home renovation project information in your region of the country to find out what consumers where you live are paying (on average) for a kitchen or bathroom remodel and other projects, and how much you stand to gain, based on current sales figures in your area. This is an excellent resource for making sure the resources you spend on your home are not only improving your daily living - but helping you grow your home’s equity over time.

Buyer’s Guide: Getting Pre-Approved for Financing

So you’ve decided to buy a house. Congratulations: You are now a mighty .2% or so of the way toward purchasing your home. Now comes the fun part: getting pre-approved for financing. 

Being pre-approved for financing is not the same thing as being prequalified. Prequalified means you have an estimate in hand of how much a lender would likely give you based on your income and debts; it is nice to know – but not at all official. Pre-approval for financing means a lender has run your credit, verified income, etc. and has given you the green light on a specific dollar amount for your loan, usually for a window of time such as 90 days. Don’t confuse the two – pre-qualification will not give you any negotiating edge; ideally you’ll be officially pre-approved for financing before you begin your home search.

You’ll need to provide the following items to your lender(s) of choice in order to complete the prequalification process:

Basic Documentation

Your driver’s license, Social Security number, and any other pertinent proof of identity (such as a marriage license, if your name has recently changed.) In general, you should be prepared to act swiftly any time your lender requests documentation of any kind. Providing documentation in a timely manner will ensure the process keeps moving forward; on the other hand, dragging your feet will help make sure your loan is sluggish on the way to the finish line, too.

Proof of Income

This can take the form of W-2s, pay stubs, bank records, and sometimes written proof of income from your employer. If you receive alimony, child support, significant investment dividends or any other type of income, you’ll want to have proof of these resources as well. If your income is verifiable and can count toward the purchase of a home, be prepared to provide proof. Two years’ history is standard. 

Proof of Assets

Conventional financing will require a 10-20% down payment, while FHA financing requires a down payment as low as 3.5% of the purchase price. You’ll need to provide proof of enough funds to cover the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves equal to two months of expenses, typically. If you do not have adequate cash on hand to cover these amounts, you may be able to supplement using additional reserves, such as IRAs or other investment accounts. Whether these funds will suffice as reserves depends on their level of liquidity, and you will be required to provide proof, for example, that you can access your 401k without extreme circumstances such as job loss or a death in the family. If you do not have adequate funds on hand, it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to buy a house; it may mean, however, that you have to postpone your purchase until you have adequate funds available to cover these amounts to the bank’s satisfaction.

Verification of Employment

The lender will require two months of pay stubs and in most cases will call your employer to verify employment, as well. The name of the game for lenders is job stability. Relocating and changing jobs within the same field are normal events in a person’s life. Radically changing your career field in the recent past doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for a loan, but the lender will require additional documentation, and the underwriter may want a letter of explanation outlining the reason(s) behind your career changes. Lapses in employment can be a red flag for lenders, but if you have a reasonable explanation for a lapse in gainful employment in the past two years and you have continued to meet your financial obligations reliably during that time, this does not mean your home purchase will be derailed; the lender will likely require more information, though, and your closing could be pushed back if more documentation is required.

Reasonable Credit

“Good” credit encompasses a mix of factors, and lenders reserve the best interest rates for borrowers with a median credit score of 740 or above. FHA guidelines require a higher down payment for buyers with a score below 580, and if your median score is below 620, prepare to pay higher interest, or to pay a premium to buy down your interest rate to a more desirable level. The better your credit, the better your financing terms will be. Understand that lenders want your business, and while they probably can’t push a loan through if your recent job history is spotty, you have no cash in the bank and you have a series of recent negative hits to your credit – motivated lenders will have suggestions on how you can bring up your score and improve the likelihood of qualifying for a home loan in the near future.

If you are ready to buy a house, you probably want to move in as soon as possible – that’s human nature! Don’t despair if the lender’s response is, “Not right now.” We’ve had “not right now” clients who closed on a home just a few months down the road after following a lender’s advice to straighten out their credit and improve financial ratios, such as debt to income. Achieving mortgage-worthy credit can happen faster than you realize when you follow the advice of an experienced lending professional.

Your team at TRELORA is standing by, waiting to hear that you are pre-approved for financing and ready to tour one of our available listings. We can’t wait to hear from you! And if you need a referral to a mortgage professional or personal financial expert – just ask. We have a list of experienced professionals we’d be happy to share with you.

A Seller’s Guide: Preparing for Home Inspection

Get out your #2 pencil – it’s time to study for a very important test: the examination your Buyer and his or her chosen professional (the Home Inspector) will conduct on your property.

 

number2 pencil.jpeg

If you were the kind of kid who started studying for next week’s test on Tuesday of this week, you’re in for a real treat! We’ve got the inside scoop that will help you ace this one. 

If, on the other hand, your left eye is twitching under all this pressure and you are sweating and wondering if you can play sick the day of your inspection (Sorry Ferris – we’re not buying it)…we’re here to help! We’ve got great tips to help you survive this experience and pull off, say, a decent B+. 

Waiting for the Inspection Objection after the Buyer’s ultimate test run of your property can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be uncertain. Read on for tips on Pre-Inspection Preparedness that may save you money and will help you make the grade at Inspection time. (Alternatively, feel free to ignore our sound advice; but do invest in quality deodorant for the days you spend sweating it out while you await the results.)

Don Your Detective Hat

Go Gadget Go! Beginning at the curb in front of your home, make note of anything suspicious an Inspector or Buyer may notice. Torn window screens? Missing brick in the façade? Write that down. Is there a loose tile in the entry or a damaged section of carpet somewhere in your living space? How about toilets? Are they all in working order, or does one run constantly? Clear out cabinet space under the kitchen sink and in every bathroom. If they are musty, dusty or show signs of minor leaks you’ve since repaired, clean them up. All of these items could end up on an Inspection Objection report, and all of them could cost you money.

You can make minor repairs now, or hire your preferred pro to tackle them for you – or you can do so at the mercy of the Buyer. Some Sellers go the extra mile and have a friend or neighbor conduct a walkthrough, notebook in hand, to point out anything you might have grown used to or overlooked that could be an issue for Buyers during the Inspection. 

The List of Items that May Scare your Buyer and Catch the Inspector's Eye Includes: 

  • Crumbling Exterior Elements: wood, siding, paint, rock or brick accents
  • Wonky Windows: foggy glass (failed seals), torn screens and windows that stick
  • Plumbing Nuisances: running toilets, leaky faucets, noisy sprinkler systems
  • Ceiling or Wall Water Stains: Your kids flooded the bathtub or maybe a toilet overflowed – there is likely a “no big deal” explanation for the stain, but your Buyer will be concerned and the Inspector will get out his/her magnifying glass; take care of these cosmetic issues before they show up 
  • Electrical Code Compliance: DIYers make note – if you DIY’d your electrical and “made it up as you went along,” spend a few bucks now to have an electrician check out your work before the Inspection takes place
  • Kitchen/Bathroom Ventilation: If the range hood or the little noise box in your bathroom ceiling aren’t functioning properly, the Buyer and Inspector will notice. And while you’re at it, run your appliances through the paces to ensure they’ll pass muster, too
  • Mold or Radon Remediation: both can be an issue in Colorado
  • Change the Furnace Filter: And while you’re at it, lay a couple of brand new filters beside the furnace. This lets the Inspector know you are diligent about regular home maintenance and it costs only a few dollars

Tidy the House

The Home Inspector doesn’t really care whether piles of laundry are obscuring every piece of furniture or the sink is full of dishes, but an overall impression of tidiness lends itself to a feeling that below the surface, things are tidy, too. Pretend you are having a high stakes showing. After all – you are. One "don't" -  if you have carpet, a bathroom or any space that has an odor of any kind, don’t try to cover it up with stinky candles or excessive deodorizing spray. Clean as best you can and when in doubt, use a product like unscented Febreze to tackle odors. Perfumed rooms are a dead giveaway that something is amiss, and you aren’t doing your inspection any favors. 

Ensure Easy Access

The Inspector will need to look under, in, around, and through crawl spaces, all areas of the basement, garage, attic, sheds or other outbuildings included in the purchase. If you keep anything attached to the home under lock and key or behind piles of boxes or racks of clothing, make way now. Don’t get in the way of the process – do everything you can to make all areas and equipment (appliances, electrical, etc.) accessible. This includes Fifi the world’s cutest attack-Yorkie. If your pet isn’t a goldfish, put it in a pet crate or send it to doggy day care. 

Don't Stress

You filled out a Seller’s Property Disclosure (SPD) to the best of your knowledge (asking clarifying questions as necessary) when you listed your home for sale. Honesty on this disclosure gives the Buyer less negotiating room when it comes to the Inspection Objection; after all – they knew ____ was an issue, and they made an offer anyway. Forthrightness on the SPD will let potential Buyers know up front that you have nothing to hide and if something surprising pops up at Inspection time, it’ll be a surprise to you, too. 

Consider this information your Pre-Inspection Homework Assignment and you’ll have a much easier time keeping your cool during the waiting period between Inspection and Inspection Objection (followed by the Inspection Resolution, for the pocket-protector set who want to add all of this to their day planner #righthisminute). It’s not unusual to feel a few jitters while you await the Buyer’s potential list of demands, and we get that. We also know if you’re willing to do your homework, you’ll save time/money/trouble and chances are good you’ll pass the test with flying colors and no more than a few minor dings on your report card. 

Was this information helpful? Let us know in the comments what you’d add and what else you’d like to know about preparing for the Buyer’s Home Inspection.   

A Buyer's Guide: Submitting an Offer

Your financing is all lined up. (You are pre-approvedright?)

You’ve found a house that is just right. What to do, what to do… 

Wait! We know: It’s time to make an offer on your next dream home.

We’re going to break down the process of submitting an offer step by step – no mystery, no big secrets. Let’s just talk some truth, shall we?

Step 1: Comparative Market Analysis

Your team at TRELORA is made up of experts in the field of real estate, and researching an accurate CMA (Comparative Market Analysis) to help you make an informed offer on your property of choice is part of that package. Deciding how much to offer on a property is not a whim – it should be a well-informed decision based on facts, figures and closed sales of similar properties in a similar location. An expert CMA is part statistical analysis and part art, and it is a vital part of the pricing strategy used to craft a strong offer.

Step 2: Consider Contingencies

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In the simplest of terms, a contingency is a contractual out that gives you the legal right out of the contract if the terms of your contingency do not come to fruition; in other words – if your contingency items don’t happen, you can bow out and get your earnest money back. Examples include:

  • Financing. As in, you aren’t approved for financing yet but you are still ready to move on this property.

  • Home Inspection. This one’s pretty standard, and we generally don’t recommend you purchase a home without the protection of a thorough Home Inspection. One factor to consider in making your offer is to leave room on the table for potential inspection items. If you offer the lowest acceptable price the seller is willing to take for the home and they go for it – good for you! Be aware this may mean the seller will be less willing to cover items that come up on the inspection, and sometimes sellers will state this (through their agent) at the time the contract is accepted.

  • Appraisal. The majority of the time the property appraises right on track, but on the off chance there is a snafu, you’ll want to be covered. If the house doesn’t appraise at the value of your offer, your lender won’t want to finance the amount you are requesting. And if the appraisal does come in low, it could mean you are overpaying for the property.
  • Property Sale. If your current home is an active listing and you are unable to close on another property without a closing (or at least a contract), this contingency will ensure you are covered if your existing home doesn’t sell. This factor will also come into play when choosing dates throughout the contract.

Step 3: Seek Out the Seller’s State of Mind

Are you in a buyer’s market or a seller’s market? Is the property vacant? Are there children or pets in the home that might make daily “staging” a challenge? Is autumn or winter right around the corner? Do the sellers have a contract on their next house? Are they relocating with a deadline in mind? All of these factors help determine the urgency a seller has to secure a contract on their property, and the more knowledge we can gain before the contract is written, the better. Across Metro Denver the market has favored sellers for awhile now, but there are still ways for you, the buyer, to gain inches here and there at the negotiating table. A bit of detective work into why the house is for sale may give you an edge.

Step 4: Get Out Your Checkbook

For earnest money, of course! The title company often holds earnest funds until the transaction closes, and these funds are just what they sound like – proof of your earnestness in the transaction. Some sellers are okay with a personal check, some require guaranteed funds (a money order or cashier’s check from your bank.) These funds are held in escrow and applied to your down payment at closing. The amount of the earnest money varies depending upon the price range of the property - usually around 1% of the asking price. You can expect to write a check for anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, and significantly more for a high end listing. Remember – these funds are applied to your purchase when the transaction closes, so you are not losing this money, it will be rolled into your upfront costs of purchasing the home.

Step 5: Submit the Offer

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The majority of offers are submitted electronically these days, and often signed the same way. You will likely eSign many of the documents attached to the transaction, and the seller will do the same. This keeps the transaction moving forward quickly and saves a few trees along the way. Depending on whether we write your offer together on a weekday or over a weekend, as well as your urgency to be under contract, the seller will be given 24-48 hours from receipt of the contract to respond, although less is acceptable, such as a same day response requirement. For example, if we write a contract at lunch time on Monday, we may give the seller until 5pm on Tuesday to respond. If the seller signs the contract – congratulations! You are under contract to purchase a home and we’re off to the races.

If they send a Counter Offer, they are likely willing to play ball, but they have amended something in your offer. They may be seeking a higher price, different closing terms or fewer concessions (closing costs, appliances, flooring allowance, etc.) A counter offer is a good thing – not a reason to panic. If you’ve offered significantly below the asking price and the seller came back at full price, you’ll need to carefully consider how much you are willing (and able) to pay for this property.

If the numbers are $30,000 apart, you may not be able to find common ground. If, however, you offered $5,000 below asking price and the seller came back with a full price offer, you might consider countering back at $2,500 below asking price. The risk is the seller will reject your offer entirely, but if your offer is serious and you are not in a multiple offer situation, it may be a risk worth taking, and the seller may be willing to meet you halfway.

What if…The Appraisal Comes in Low?

First, let us take a moment to assure you this is not a common scenario. As the seller, you aren’t likely to see the results of the appraisal the buyer’s lender ordered on your home at all. If you hear nothing, that’s great! The property passed muster and you can keep on trucking with this milestone behind you. 

Sometimes, though, the appraisal comes back below the sales price agreed upon by the seller and buyer - even though you did everything in your power to prepare your home. Bummer.

A low appraisal can occur in a competitive market when multiple offers push the price above asking or even above FMV (fair market value.) Another possibility is that the initial CMA (comparative market analysis) completed on your home skewed high, and the appraisal has suggested a more accurate valuation for the property. 

If this happens, you’ll be glad you have a team of experienced professionals backing you up. A low appraisal doesn't have to be a deal-killer, but you’ll need savvy advice and a cool head to move forward successfully in this scenario. 

Now you have an idea of how the appraisal can come in lower than expected. Armed with this knowledge, let’s talk about what to do if this scenario occurs during your transaction:

Reduce the Contract Price

Possibly the simplest response to this situation is for you, the seller, to reduce the price to meet the appraisal. Depending on how motivated you are to sell and what your ideal timeframe is, this is a valid response. It is disappointing to settle for less than you thought you were getting for your property, but on the other hand, there is something to be said for the bird (or in this case the contract) you already have in hand. 

The reality of mortgage lending is that the lender will not be willing to loan more money to the buyer than the value of the property. Something’s gotta give. For the sake of simple math, let’s say your property is under contract for $310,000, but the appraisal comes in at $300k. You have a $10,000 shortfall on your hands. You can ask the buyer to bring cash to the table to make up the difference (and in a competitive market like Denver has enjoyed for the last many months, this may be a viable option), or you could offer to meet the buyer in the middle – lowering the price by $5k and asking the buyer to provide an additional $5k in order to close the deal. 

Put your Home Back on the Market

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Every sale is unique, but we’re going to caution you this may not be the best way to combat a low appraisal. You can certainly hedge your bets – especially in a seller’s market – that the next buyer will have the funds to cover any difference between the list price and the appraisal value.

But – and this is important – you should be prepared to be in the exact same situation when the appraisal once again comes in below the contract price. And this time, your house isn’t the hot new listing it once was. If your property languishes on the market, you’ll end up selling for less than the original contract offered, anyway. It may be in your best interest to make your contract stick, even if it requires a compromise on your part to do so. 

Challenge the Appraisal

You can challenge the appraisal with the lender or request a second appraisal of the property. If you choose this route it is important to understand that as the seller, you do not hold the cards in terms of challenging the appraisal or ordering a second appraisal on the property. Whether or not this takes place is entirely up to the lender, and a request of this nature can come from the buyer – but not from you.

Speak openly and honestly about your goals and willingness to press the issue of the appraisal with your team here at TRELORA; we’ll negotiate this situation on your behalf through the buyer’s representative. Our highly specialized property valuation experts did a CMA of your home before your listing went live; now is the time to pull out that research to discuss why your property is worth the price on the contract. You may come to a clear agreement with the buyer about challenging the appraisal and still fail at the attempt if the lender does not agree to review or redo the appraisal, and since they are likely working with an experienced appraiser they know and trust, the likelihood that they will turn down this request is pretty high. If you go this route, you should definitely have a plan b in place. 

Be Optimistic, but Realistic

Approach the sale of your property optimistically and with this caveat – the sale of your home is complete when the ink on the closing paperwork is dry, and not before. The appraisal of your home is probably going to come in right on target and your deal will progress without a hitch and if not – we’ll deal with it together. The reason you hired a team of experienced professionals is because you value the equity in your home and you understand that the road to a real estate closing is sometimes a bumpy one - you’ll be glad to have us along for the ride when you hit those bumps. 

SWOT Analysis: How to Buy, Sell & Own Your Home Like a Boss

SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths // Weaknesses // Opportunities // Threats, is an analytical framework by which businesses and people plan for the future and make decisions. This strategic business practice is both applicable and adaptable to the process of buying a home, and allows buyers to identify key areas of concern or positive aspects of a potential home purchase. Using this method during your home shopping process can help you avoid pitfalls and maximize the potential of your home buying dollars, ensuring you’ll enjoy the benefits of your investment for years to come.

Strengths

Factors like location, proximity to amenities and curb appeal are classic strengths to seek out in a potential home purchase. In addition, you should compile a short list of home features that matter most to you and prioritize this list as you shop for a home. Items to include on your short list of must haves could be location, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, layout (ranch, open floor plan), square footage, double or triple garage, yard size and school district. Your short list of must haves should contain no more than 5 items and will help you compare the viability of each home you see without being overwhelmed by every single feature of the home. The short list should not include items like paint color, granite counters or flooring, as these items are relatively easy to change.  

Weaknesses

Weaknesses in a property can be harder to spot at first glance, but even the most ideal home has a weak spot somewhere. This may include distance to neighbors (if you can touch the side of your house and your neighbor’s at the same time – you’re in pretty close quarters), a high HOA fee, a lengthy commute to work, being close to a major road, landscaping in tough shape, very little closet space or other interior concerns. Overall condition, although not a very specific criteria, can be a definite weakness. If the home is in need of repair on every level and every surface and you don’t have cash on hand or time to make the repairs, the home in question has major weaknesses – even if the price is right.

Opportunities

One person’s home weakness is another’s opportunity; if you are in a position to address the weaknesses of a home on your list, what is a detriment to someone else may offer loads of home equity potential for you. As an example, clients of ours, a husband and wife duo with two kids, sold their home with us and bought their next home out of state “as is.” In this case, in need of many surface repairs and updates. The house smelled like dogs upstairs, cats downstairs and needed flooring and paint from top to bottom: Killz on the floor and new paint on walls and even ceilings. The price reflected the work this home needed, and the couple took time off work and invested about $10,000 and plenty of sweat equity in bringing the house up to date by removing and replacing the flooring and painting nearly every flat surface in the place themselves.

Other examples of a great opportunity for home buyers include buying the ugliest house in a great neighborhood, buying a home in a neighborhood undergoing revitalization, buying a home with a great interior in need of a curb appeal update, or buying a cluttered/dated home with great bones. Buying a home with potential can offer excellent an excellent return on your investment if you’re willing to look past the “rough” to see the diamond this home could be.

Threats

Threats to your potential home purchase can be found in material defects in the home like asbestos, mold or radon, or they may be future concerns like a major thoroughfare being built a stone’s throw from your backyard, or unforeseen HOA expenditures resulting in homeowner assessments. While you can’t always head threats like these off at the pass, you can boost your knowledge level by doing your due diligence as a home shopper: review HOA documents and if anything sounds like a forthcoming assessment, ask questions of the HOA president or representatives; talk to the city to determine whether the rumors you may have heard about a new road or other construction project are true; if there are environmental concerns in the area you are planning to buy a home in, ask a lot of questions and seek expert opinions on the topic. If you buy a home on a floodplain, expect the possibility of a flood – and know the cost and coverage of the insurance your lender will require you to carry. Like any major investments, there are risks to homeownership; the best way to counteract these risks is to arm yourself with information so you are prepared for future challenges rather than surprised by them

One of the smartest things you can do as a homebuyer is to wring every dollar of home equity out of your purchase transaction that you possibly can. Commission free TRELORA works with buyers and sellers for one flat fee of $2500, leaving you with more to show for your home investment dollars. We’ve saved Denver area clients over $16,000,000 to date. If you are ready to tackle the Denver marketplace, call us to learn how the best technology and transaction specialists can benefit your deal.

 

Transaction Brokerage: Defined

Real estate consumers are generally confident in their understanding of what a buyer’s agent or seller’s agent does on their behalf, but many people are confused about what a transaction broker does. One of TRELORA’s goals as a full service, flat fee real estate brokerage here in Denver is to educate you about the real estate industry so you can make informed decisions about your real estate transaction and be the best possible advocate for your home equity and personal interests. Let’s talk about what a transaction brokerdoes, and when and how this scenario may benefit your personal real estate transaction.

The basic definition of transaction brokerage is third-party real estate services to buyers and sellers. Transaction brokerage differs from a buyer or seller agency in that the transaction broker is legally neutral, and can assist both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. Instead of acting as an agent for the buyer or seller, the transaction broker acts as a mediator between both parties to the deal. Rather than a percentage of the sale, transaction brokers often charge a flat fee.

Services of a transaction broker may include:

  • Helping the buyer prepare an offer
  • Helping the seller to determine a competitive list price
  • Facilitating buyer - seller communication
  • Writing the contract to buy and sell
  • Coordinating the transaction from accepted offer to closing
  • Assisting with closing

Transaction brokers are bound by the same legal and ethical standards of conduct as agents representing an individual buyer and seller, but rather than individual representation, the transaction broker is an assistant to the transaction, coordinating details rather than negotiating between the buyer and seller.

Why consider using a transaction broker? The flat fee cost savings available when the buyer and seller cooperatively engage the services of a transaction broker are significant in comparison to traditional real estate commissions.

“A transaction broker facilitates paperwork and keeps the real estate transaction moving forward by managing the details and facilitating communication.

— Joshua Hunt, founder and CEO of TRELORA

If you are a buyer or seller in the Denver area interested in transaction brokerage as part of your personal real estate transaction, contact TRELORA to learn more about the process and how we can help.

 

Owning Chickens in Denver: the 411

You’ve watched Denver DIY-culture blossom throughout the city, from handmade markets to fermentation festivals. Whether you own a home or are close to buying one using TRELORA’s flat fee real estate model, you don’t want to simply buy free range organic eggs at your local farmer’s market—you’re ready to produce them!       

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Luckily, Denver City Council enacted fowl-friendly legislation throughout the city in 2012, and many of Denver’s suburbs followed suit.

In fact, Denver wants to support you in your chicken husbandry quest, so the city has put together a best practices handout, an indispensible resource. Meanwhile, here are some tips from TRELORA to help you start achieving your urban homesteading dreams.:

Knowing the Laws    

Laws about chickens boil down to three things: safety, happy neighbors, and happy birds. Denver doesn’t want your coop to catch on fire and spread to your house, so in almost every municipality, your chickens must be at least 15 feet from your house and your fences. Also, your neighbors will love your surplus eggs, but they probably don’t want to hear your rooster at 5:00 in the morning, so in almost all cases, it’s ladies only. Don’t worry--they don’t need a man! (at least to lay eggs!).  

You also must manage chicken droppings to limit smells for your neighbors (no problem--it makes the best fertilizer!). Finally, your chickens must have a warm, dry place to live with lots of space to eat bugs and walk and scratch and just be chickens. But you knew that.

Links will direct you to each city's page with more detailed ownership information:   

Aurora 

Denver

Lakewood

Westminster

According to the city of Denver, a successful chicken coop: 

  • Provides adequate space for the number of birds  

  • Is well ventilated  

  • Minimizes drafts  

  • Maintains a comfortable temperature  

  • Protects the chickens from wind and sun  

  • Keeps out rodents, wild birds, and predatory animals

  • Offers plenty of light during the day  

  • Has adequate roosting space  

  • Includes clean nests for the hens to lay eggs  

  • Has sanitary feed and water stations  

  • Is easy to clean  

  • Is situated where drainage is good

  • Remember the Best Practices Handouts we mentioned? Read it!

With these details in mind, your only limits are your imagination, your style, and your budget.

If you want to buy a coop, plan to spend $300-600. Many companies sell them online, but you may be able to find a used coop on Cragislist or freecycle.  If you have the moxie to build your own coop, it could cost you as little as $50, especially if you use supplies or structures you have on hand.

We at TRELORA love this set of “21 Awesome Chicken Designs” from Pioneer Settler that redefine what a chicken coop can be. An elegantly designed coop like these could potentially raise the market value of your home! You can also get extensive inspiration from the photo database of Backyard Chickens (check out their Chicken Coop Construction Forum for more practical hints!) .

Whether you choose a chic or simple design, make sure your coop has the following elements:

Run: an outdoor space for chickens to forage for bugs and grass    

Roost: an elevated place for the ladies to sit at night, nice and dry if it rains.

Nesting Box: a designated space for egg-laying, usually a square box, made cozy with wood shavings or straw     

Coop Walkway: great for roost access, essential if your chickens’ wings are clipped    

Electrical Wiring: lighting stimulates egg production in the winter months 

Vents: helpful for creating airflow throughout the coop to keep birds healthy

Feeding Chickens     

Educate yourself about food before you bring the birds to their new home. Egg-producing requires tremendous energy, so treat your ladies like prime athletes and ensure they have high-protein feed. Denver has many places to buy chicken feed, but the most important thing to remember is if your birds receive nutritious food, their eggs will be more nutritious. If you’re looking for organic feed, the most affordable place in town is Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply. To estimate how much to buy, plan on full-grown birds eating about ¼ pound of food per day. You should also regularly supplement your chicken’s diet with leafy greens and vegetables for vitamins, oyster shells for calcium, and grit for digestion.  

Choosing Chickens    

Now that you have made your ladies a home, here comes the most fun part--pickin’ your chickens! Start by using My Pet Chicken’s Breed Selector Survey for some quick recommendations, or spend some time studying Backyard Chicken’s detailed comparison of major breeds.  

Once you have a good idea, decide if you want to purchase chicks or adults. Raising chicks is rewarding because you can see their entire growth and development. If you have children, it’s a perfect way to introduce them to your family’s new hobby, with plenty of adorable photo-opportunities.

Starting with adults, on the other hand, often means that you won’t have to wait several months for eggs. Some hens will even be ready to lay a few days in, once they feel comfortable enough. If you are looking for chickens in the Mile High City, the first place to look is Denver Urban Homesteading’s monthly Chicken Swap, hosted at Earth Dog Denver (370 Kalamath St) from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm the first Saturday of each month. Not only can you purchase food and find an adorable clutch of Rhodesian Reds, you can also meet other chicken farmers and ask them for advice. Wardle Feed & Pet Supply, which carries live chicks from February til Labor Day, also hosts a monthly chicken swap on the third Saturday of each month from 8:00 am - 2:00 pm. Wardle also regularly offers a Chicken Keeping 101 class, which could be useful to new enthusiasts. 

Keeping Chickens

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Ultimately, purchasing chickens is just the beginning of the journey, providing more joys than delicious omelettes or eggs benedict alone can provide. You will learn the unique personalities of each bird, you’ll develop a rhythm for caring for them, and most of all you’ll be adding value to your life, and even your home.

We hope TRELORA’s introduction to chicken owning in Denver helps you begin your journey. We would love to hear about your chickens! Leave us a comment below if you want to know anything more about the chicken keeping process.  

A Seller’s Guide: Showing Confirmation Types

The For Sale sign is in your yard, the lock box is secured to your front door, and your property is finally Active in the MLS. An eager buyer should be scheduling a home tour any minute now…

...but how will you know when a buyer is planning on showing up? Are showing services able to work around your schedule? Does the buyer’s agent receive specific instructions before they arrive?

There are three types of showing designations possible using our preferred third-party showing platform, Centralized Showing Service (CSS): Go-n-Show, Courtesy Call, andAppointment Required. Generally speaking, the easier it is for a potential buyer to see your home, the better. However, we understand that a potential buyer and their agent arriving on your doorstep with no notice isn’t a possibility for everyone.

Go and Show

The fewer barriers to entry, the easier it will be for an agent to get their client into your home. For this reason, many sellers choose Go and Show as their preferred confirmation type. If you select “Go-n-Show” as the showing setting, no notice is required and no notification is provided prior to the showing. Let us repeat that: absolutely no notification is sent prior to a Go-n-Show showing. As a seller, the only way you'll know a showing occurred (or is scheduled) is by logging into MyTRELORA and checking your property's showing section.

A Go-n-Show means that a buyer and their agent can see your home whenever they'd like, and they do not need to schedule a specific time. This is often the best way to let buyers see your home, as there are no scheduling conflicts.

If it’s 9:55am, using Go-n-Show an agent would be able to schedule a showing for 10:00am and CSS would provide them with the lockbox information right away. As a seller, you will still receive feedback from the showings, and will still be able to see a log of past and future showing appointments. The best place to see your property's showing log is in MyTRELORA.

Go-n-Show scheduling is ideal for vacant properties. This form of scheduling may also be useful if you as the owner plan on being away from the property for an entire weekend or are out of town on vacation, for example. As a reminder, no notice is given with a Go-n-Show tour - agents and their buyers are able to show up unannounced. 

Courtesy Call 

 

Courtesy Call is the most popular showing confirmation type and provides more boundaries than Go-n-Show schedulingA Courtesy Call is simply that: it allows the buyer or buyer's agent to schedule a time to see your home, and a simple courtesy call from CSS is all that's needed before coming over.

You can also set specifications regarding how much time you need to vacate the premises and ensure the home is in prime showing condition. The majority of sellers who reside in their property choose this type of showing because they can tidy up in the hour or two allotted, make sure the home is staged for showings, and vacate the property.

If you select "Courtesy Call" as the showing setting for your property, you will receive a phone call asking whether or not you would like to confirm or cancel an agent's requested showing. Many sellers also chose to receive a notification text and email from CSS, as well. A Courtesy Call showing will automatically be approved unless you deny it with the showing service.

Since the showing is automatically approved, there is the possibility that you could miss the call from CSS (if you're sleeping, for example) and a buyer could show up to your home without you being aware of their appointment. It's rare that a seller misses the Courtesy Call notification, but it's something you should be aware of.

Appointment Needed

For clients that work from home, have a tricky schedule, pets that need to be kenneled, or small children, the Appointment Needed designation provides peace of mind. An Appointment Needed status means that the buyer or buyer agent will need to make an appointment at a specific time, which you must approve, in order for them to view your home. 

If you choose Appointment Needed, Centralized Showing Service will first send you a text message and/or an email notifying you that an agent has requested access to your property. If no response is logged via text or email by 30 minutes prior to the requested appointment, CSS will call you to request permission for the buyer's agent. The appointment request is automatically canceled if CSS does not receive your permission to grant the access to the buyer's agent.

If the date and time of the requested showing do not work with your schedule, you must deny the appointment with CSS. You can then give CSS alternate dates and times to relay to the buyer's agent, but there may be a fair amount of back and forth in order to get the appointment booked.

This makes setting an appointment a little more difficult for buyers, but gives you complete control over who is in your home and when. Be aware that many buyers try to pack in multiple showings in a single day, so if you require more than a few hours' notice, they may pass up on visiting your property and move on. 

A few things to know...

Be sure to let us know if you have any access gates, sticky locks, home alarms (and their deactivation codes), or pets. Anything requiring special instruction or attention should be noted on your MyTRELORA profile and relayed to CSS.