The truth about online home shopping

The start of a home search for nearly everyone starts online…. Zillow.com, Trulia.com, realtor.com.  There are a ton of sites out there for people to view homes for sale, recently sold, or even get an estimate on what these sites think the value of a home is.  The problem is, this information can be widely inaccurate and this ultimately leads to disappointment & frustration for home shoppers & sellers alike.  Let me explain.

Not all homes for sale are syndicated on these public sites.

  • It is up to the seller to decide if they want their home listed on these public sites or not.  Therefore, all homes that are listed for sale on the real estate MLS ( multiple listing service) site are not necessarily shown for sale on the public sites.  Your dream property may not even coming up in your search, but it’s sitting right there on MLS.  To get a true picture of what is out there for sale, you’ll want to talk with a realtor.

Data is not refreshed in a timely manner.

  • The 3rd party sites aren’t always refreshed in a timely manner so what may still look like an active listing for sale on Zillow is actually under contract on MLS.  I’ve even had a buyer send me a house for sale on Zillow to get my opinion and when I looked at MLS, it was sold months ago.  You don’t want to fall in love with a house online to then see it’s not even for sale.

Data is not complete.

  • MLS has hundreds of fields that realtors can fill in to give a complete picture of what the home has.  The online public sites only have a fraction of that.  So if you have a specific requirement in a home, you may think it’s perfect from your search online, but once you actually see the home or your realtor does the digging for you, it turns out to be missing one of your requirements.

Online home value estimates are widely inaccurate.

  • These public sites are using an algorithm and do not take into account the true details of a house.  The public sites don’t know about improvements that have been made to the home and if information like the number of bedrooms or square footage is off, the online estimate will be off.  These sites also use comparable sales for their data points and what they think is a comp, may not be a comparable property when you look at the true factors of the houses.

Even with these points, I do still support buyers shopping online.  It is a good way to get a taste of the different types of homes & a general idea of what is out there.  Once a buyer has spent time searching online, the safest bet is to share what they found with a realtor and go look at the homes in person.  Pictures online can be hiding some important characteristics about the home and you can only get the true picture until you are on the property.

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If you have been poking around online on your own and you want to share with a REALTOR® what you have been looking at in Colorado, I’d love to help!  Please email me at beth@goodacreproperties.com or reach out via the contact information below:


Hottest Home Trends of 2019

With this post, I am not trying to pretend like I am a design expert, but being a REALTOR® and someone who is interested in “all things home”, I do read a lot of home articles, posts, and blogs.  Lately, I feel like one after another is about the hottest trends to expect for 2019 – from paint colors to interior design, furniture design, and overall home. If you have plans for redecorating or want to refresh some of your spaces, it can’t hurt to know what experts believe will be resonating in 2019.  I have gathered together some of the more valuable articles I have read and pulled out a few consistent points I am seeing across sources.

Predictions for what will be hot in 2019:

  • More bold, vivid, high-contrast patterns and more vibrant accent colors
  • Pantone declares Living Coral is the color of the year. What it conveys: Life-affirming, optimism, joy.
  • Earth tones: all versions of sand and earthy colors like ochre, burnt gold, and terracotta like Sherwin-Williams’ 2019 color Cavern Clay
  • Art Deco influence to become more prominent in the coming year
  • Ornate & textured walls and wallpaper
  • Antiques and handmade, custom pieces – return to handcrafted authenticity
  • Live Greenery and biophilia (the innate tendency in human beings to focus on life and lifelike process)
  • Innovative uses and mixing of metals 
  • Matte Black

If you have some time to read more for yourself, here are a few of the best articles I have read for 2019 predictions: 

All in all, I believe what is most important is that you make design decisions that resonate well with you & your family.  If you aren’t a fan of a certain style, don’t try to force it because some people say it is “in style.”  And lastly, I still stand by the importance of timeless design decisions for major renovations if you want to maximize the resale value of your home which I touch upon in my last blog post:  Home Renovation Projects that Boost Resale Value of Your Home.

Happy planning and decorating!

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If you or someone you know has any real estate needs within Colorado, I would love to help!  I support buyers and sellers primarily in the Denver-Boulder areas. Please reach out via the contact form below to start a conversation about how I can help you:

 

 


Finding the Right Neighborhood In Your Home Search

If you’re a home-buyer searching for your perfect home, you probably have a checklist of criteria that you are looking for: certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms, a modern kitchen maybe, or open floor plan.  One thing that should be high on your list too (and can be overlooked) is the community and neighborhood.  Factors like walkability, HOA (Home Owners Associations), access to walking trails, schools, even neighbors’ upkeep of their homes should all be something to consider too.  Trulia words it perfectly in a recent article I read:

“You can knock down walls and repaint your new home all you want, but when it comes to your neighborhood, you take it as it is. But if you choose the right one, that can be great news.” 

Here are five tips to help you choose a home in a community that is right for you.

  1. Overall ask yourself about the type of scene you are looking for in a neighborhood – a quiet one or a more lively scene.  You may love hanging out in a particular part of town, but when it actually comes to living there, you may find that all the other people hanging out there too & making noise isn’t exactly what you had in mind.
  2. How did you feel on your first impression of the neighborhood?  Did you mind that there were RVs and cars parked all around on the road and in driveways? Did you see many houses that are run down or yards that need work?  Neighborhood associations often have rules around parking on the roads, general upkeep, and even aesthetics of the houses.  If you are concerned about the appearance of your neighborhood as a whole, maybe a one with a HOA is the right for you.  If you didn’t have a good feeling at first of a particular neighborhood, you may want to stick to your gut.
  3.  Decide if walkability is important to you and if so – make sure you understand what is defined as within walking distance.  For example – if you see a house listed as highly walkable, you may have an image of walking to cute “Mom & Pop” shops and cafés only to realize, it is walking distance to a strip mall with only fast food chains and a gas station.  Go visit the house and park the car… walk around and get a feel for the neighborhood & the walks you will go on.
  4. While you are out walking, talk to the neighbors.  What better way to really hear the ins and outs of an area than from a neighbor that already lives there.  There may be complaints or positive features that aren’t obvious from you quick visits.
  5. Check the surrounding features such as whether there are parks or walking trails close to the house.  Also look for elements that may affect the day-to-day living like being near a loud, active train or even a tourist attraction that will bring heavy traffic.  It is also good to look at the school ratings in the area even if you don’t have children as higher rating schools will be better for resale.

In the end, you want to get into a home you love in an area that is right for you.  Taking the extra steps to really study the area as much as the home will pay off in the end.

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If you or anyone you know needs help on their Boulder-Denver home buying search, I’d love to help!  Please reach out through the contact form below or emailing me at beth@goodacreproperties.com.

 

 

 

 


Fall Home To-Do List

As the days start to get a little cooler and there is a chill in the evening air, most of us can’t help but think about the fall days ahead.  With that comes cozy warm layers, hot drinks, comfort foods, and the start of the leaves changing colors (my favorite time of year!).  However, with this transition also comes a home to-do list you will want to consider to prepare your house for colder days ahead.  Read below for some key things to plan for.

  1. Do an initial check of your roof & gutters.  It’s generally fine to wait until the majority of the leaves have fallen to clean out gutters and downspouts, but now is a good time to check for debris, fallen sticks, or seals that look worn-out.  Make sure you don’t see obvious signs of damage or wear on your roof, especially around vent pipes and chimneys.  If you do, schedule repairs before the harsh winter starts as worn seals or damage could cause house leaks.IMG_1080
  2. Schedule chimney clean-ups. Make sure your fireplace is clean & safe for the upcoming year, especially if you have a wood-burning fireplace.  A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard. Creosote, the sticky substance that remains after a fire, is highly flammable.  A chimney sweep is an easy & relatively cheap maintenance item you should not avoid.  
  3. Touch-up exterior paint.  One of my first blogs was about how important it is to stay on top of exterior paint.  Review your exterior for chipping paint and prioritize touching-up areas where you know snow may accumulate in the winter.IMG_0049
  4. Schedule a tune-up for your heating system.  Make sure your heating system is working optimally by scheduling a tune-up.  Depending on the age of your system, you may only need one every other year.  Ask your heating professional how often to schedule so you are aware moving forward.
  5. Cover-up or remove A/C Units.  September is the time to remove A/C window units – it is ideal to remove them vs. putting on a cover as it minimizes winter heat loss if you can close the window.  If you have central A/C, you’ll want to turn the system off to avoid it flipping on in an unusually warm winter day.  Hose or blow off the air conditioning unit to remove leaves, small branches, dirt and dust. Ensure it dries completely and then cover the A/C unit with a protective cover for the season.  You may want to call a local HVAC company to see if there are other preventative items you should do to keep your system in good condition over the winter.
  6. Order Firewood.  If you have a wood-burning fireplace, now is a good time to order a delivery of firewood for the season.  If you can, don’t store large quantities of wood directly against the house, which can encourage bugs & pests, but do keep it covered from moisture such as rain and snow.  IMG_0848
  7. Schedule to winterize your sprinkler system. When temperatures start to fall, it’s time to winterize your sprinkler system. Your lines must be drained or blown out before the first hard freeze as the sprinkler system can be damaged from below-freezing temperatures. 
  8. Add weather-stripping.  For old, drafty windows and doors, weather-stripping can help retain heat and stop drafts.  Check old weather-stripping to ensure it is working properly and help ensure window & door gaps are as sealed as possible for the upcoming cold days.

After all your hard work, plan to enjoy the wonderful season of fall!

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Real Estate Tip: Properly maintaining your HVAC systems, roof, & chimney will help avoid costly surprises at inspection objection if you are trying to sell your home.  If you have any questions related to preparing your home for sale, I would love to help.  Please contact me below.


The Home Buying Process

As a follow-up to my last blog about the home selling process, here is a guide for the other side of a real estate transaction – the home-buying process.  As with selling your home, the process to buy a house can seem complex and confusing at times.  Luckily, you can get help from a real estate professional who will guide you through the process every step of the way.  One thing some first-time home buyers don’t realize is that in most circumstances, the agent’s commission is paid for by the seller of the home, not the buyer.  So this means your representation should cost you nothing!

When you meet with a real estate professional, you will want to discuss what you are looking for in a home & ideal location so they know the parameters of your home search.  Your realtor will likely ask you pretty early on if you will be requiring a loan or paying cash.  If you are getting a loan, you will want to get pre-approved by a lender right away. This helps ensure you are searching for homes in an accurate price-range and when it is time to put an offer on a house, you can quickly have a pre-approval letter to give with your offer showing you can afford a house of that amount.  Having this pre-approval completed at the start will make the process move a lot more smoothly.  If you aren’t sure where to start with finding a lender, your broker may be able to provide recommendations.

The fun part is searching for a home!  Your realtor will search for homes in your criteria & schedule showings as appropriate.  When you are looking at homes, it is important to think beyond just the obvious like number of rooms, size of kitchen, and age of the roof.  You may want to visit my blog post about important things to consider when buying a house.  There is no magic number on the amount of homes you should see before you make an offer.  I always tell my buyers you need to have the right feeling with a house – you should feel at home in it to know it is right for you.  Once you find the right home, your agent will prepare the offer based on the price and terms you choose.  Often there will be some form of negotiation on both sides and once the parties come to an agreement, you are under contract!

The contract will dictate the dates, deadlines, & terms that must be met before closing & possession – these include items like the inspection, appraisal, due diligence documents, record & off-record title, property insurance, loan deadlines, and more.  Your broker should keep you up to speed on all upcoming deadlines and what to expect.  If you are getting a loan, you will also be getting a lot of requests from the lender on information you need to provide.  Staying on top of both of these will help make the process as smooth as possible and not risk delaying close (or worst case, terminating the contract).

The last deadlines will be the closing date & possession (not always the same date).  Closing is the transfer of funds and ownership & the day we are all looking forward to!  A title company or an attorney typically acts as an independent third-party to facilitate the closing.  Post closing & at the time of possession you can celebrate your new home and the new title of being a home owner!  Congratulations!!

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I would love to help you find your next home!  Please contact me below if you have any questions on the home buying process or would like to discuss how I can help you with you real estate needs.  Visit my testimonials page to see what others have to say about working with me.


Why is Everyone Moving to Colorado?

I’ve been asked the question: “Why are so many people moving to Colorado?” Well, the short answer is: “because the secret is out.”  The scenery here is beautiful, the weather is great, there is strong economic growth, and frankly – there is a lot to do in CO.  Many times people visit the area & then question why they would be living anywhere else. Employers are catching on to all the area has to offer as well – opening up new offices & bringing job opportunities.  Take Google’s new $130 Million Boulder Campus, for example, that will bring in hundreds of new residents to the area.  So, what do I mean by “the secret is out” – let me explain by diving further into Boulder specifically.

With over 300 days of sun per year, picturesque landscapes, and tons of recreational opportunities, Boulder offers people a great quality of life. On any given day, residents and visitors alike enjoy biking on the 300+ miles of dedicated bikeways or hiking on one of the many scenic trails that make up over 150 miles of hiking trails.  With so much beauty & opportunity in Boulder’s backyard, it is a healthy place to live both mentally & physically.  Self Magazine rated Boulder #1 in Top 10 Fittest Cities in the US (September 2017) and National Geographic rated Boulder The Happiest City in the U.S  (October 2017).

Exercise is a way of life in Boulder, but so is a good dining experience.  From restaurants that have received James Beard awards (Frasca Food & Wine) to Boulder institutions that are known for their award-winning beer and hippy atmosphere (The Mountain Sun) – the food in Boulder is good.  Very good. So good that Bon Appétit dubbed Boulder as  “America’s Foodiest Town” and Food and Wine named Pearl Street as one of the “Ten Best Foodie Streets in America.”

An added element to the restaurant scene & healthy living lifestyle is the farm culture in Colorado. With so many farms within a few miles of Boulder and an overall focus on supporting everything local, Boulder sees a lot of farm-to-table restaurants as well as an award-winning Farmer’s Market.  Every Saturday morning from April – November & Wednesday evening May – October, the Farmer’s Market is packed with people looking for everything from Colorado Peaches to Boulder Beef, local honey, fresh pasta, creamy cheese, beautiful flowers, and more.  Most will agree that leaving empty-handed is nearly impossible.

Finally, it’s not just about being healthy & working out in Boulder – there is a lot of other things to do.  Walking the pedestrian-friendly Pearl Street Mall, watching street performers, shopping, or dining al fresco is always a good time.  Some people aren’t aware that Boulder actually has an impressive amount of top-notch craft breweries.  In fact, Boulder has more breweries per capita than any other city in the country.  And if you want to get out-of-town, Denver is only 30 miles away, there is a ski resort 20 miles outside Boulder, and Rocky Mountain National Park is only an hour away.

I think it’s safe to say this place is pretty great.  Come visit and if you are thinking of making the move to CO, I would love to be your relocation resource.  Reach out via the form below or email me at Beth@GoodacreProperties.com.

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Simple Home Updates

Do you look at your home and think it needs updates, but the thought of the time, money & energy required to make the updates prevent you from doing the work?  You don’t need to tackle the whole house at once, instead think of one space at a time.  Additionally, there is no need to do a complete overhaul of the space – there are little things you can do that go a long way.  Here are some things to think about.

Take a step outside:

  • Mailbox.  This is sometimes the first thing people see when they pull up to your house.  A new mailbox, post, and set of house numbers is a relatively inexpensive & easy fix that will clean up the image of your home.
  • Landscaping.  You do not need entirely new landscaping, but cleaning up weeds & overgrowth and putting down some new mulch will polish up your outdoor space. Don’t stop at just cleaning up the yard & garden – tackle your driveway and any walkways too if you see grass or weeds growing up through cracks.
  • Front door.  Give your home a facelift by replacing your front door or even just repaint it if it’s in good shape.  Consider a fun pop of color that complements the rest of the paint colors of your house for a statement door.  If your budget allows, updating the door hardware will increase the curb appeal even more.

Inside:

  • Lighting.  If you have the budget to swap out some tired, old lights for more modern fixtures, this goes a long way in my opinion.  You could address one room at a time and you don’t have to spend hundreds on each light – I’ve seen many pretty lights for under $20.  Electricians usually charge an hourly rate so try to get an estimate for how many lights they can replace in an hour or two.  If this is outside your budget, simply swapping out your light bulbs can give your home a much more comforting feel.  Get rid of those bright, fluorescent lights and put in soft white bulbs.

  • Touch-up paint.  The general wear & tear of life puts a stress on baseboards, doors, and walls.  If you don’t want to completely repaint a room, consider just touching up the paint – hiding imperfections with a fresh brush stroke of paint.  Now is the time to patch any holes or fill in any dings.  Make sure you choose the right finish paint and you don’t use a gloss paint on what was initially an eggshell.

  • Fixtures.  If you have outdated or run-down knobs on cabinets, handles on doors, towel racks, or even vent covers, all of these are easy to swap out.  Replacing these give you an opportunity to let your personality shine through, while also making your space look more polished.  

  • Blinds.  If your home still has aluminum blinds or temporary paper blinds you threw up for a quick fix years ago, consider replacing them.  New window coverings can really modernize a room. 

Decor:

  • Furniture.  If you are disappointed with how worn some of your furniture looks, sanding & painting wood pieces for a fresh new look is always a great option.  This is an area where you can try out something different & have fun with it.  I almost tossed an old, weathered Adirondack chair a few summers ago, but decided to bring it back to life & painted it a bright blue to match some of my other patio furniture.
  • Decor.  Throw pillows, comfy blankets, candles, baskets to hold clutter, throw rugs, artwork for the walls, a statement wall with a peel-and-stick wallpaper, real or fake potted planets, table lamps.  All these are simple, easy ideas to update a space and make it more enjoyable to live in.  I personally love shopping affordable decor Target and Joss & Main.

If you found this information valuable and are interested in seeing my inspiration for home updates & decor, follow my Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/ecgoltz/

 

***Real Estate Tip***

If your home looks as though it needs updates to you, a potential buyer will see the same thing.  Making some of these indoor and outdoor updates could potentially help with the resale of your home.  Feel free to reach out if you’d like to run your thinking by me.

 

 

 


Is This Your Year to Become a Homeowner?

Have you been thinking about purchasing a home for a while now but, haven’t acted on taking the first step?  Buying a home can seem daunting and you may have more questions than answers which may be what’s holding you back.  It’s true that buying a home may be one of the biggest investments you may make financially, but it doesn’t need to be a scary process.  Getting a good understanding of your finances & what to expect with purchasing a home may help you decide if you are ready to take the next step to start the home buying process.  Below are some key things to start to look into.

  1. Credit Report. A very basic, yet important factor in your ability to buy a home is your credit rating.  The best interest rates & more flexible loan terms are available to those with the strongest credit scores.  You should understand what your credit score is and ensure that the items they are reporting on are correct.  There are three major credit reporting agencies you can contact for your credit score: Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
  2. How much home can I afford?  This is probably your biggest question and something you’ll want to accurately know the answer to in order to not be disappointed later in your home search.  To get the most accurate answer, you’re going to want to have a conversation with a lender.  A lender should help evaluate your current financial situation, as well take into account your future plans that may affect how you think about your home purchase & investment.
  3. Lending Options. Banks are not the only source anymore for obtaining a loan to buy a home, there are plenty of other options and it is suggested you shop around to find a lender.
    • Mortgage Bankers loan their own money and then usually sell the loan to recapture their original money plus a small profit.
    • Mortgage Loan Brokers are in the business of matching buyers & homeowners with lenders that are likely to finance them.  The buyer usually picks up the fee for this service.
    • Financial Institutions are commonly known as traditional banks or “prime” lenders.
    • Private Lenders usually refers to sellers who are open to owner financing.
    • Some Credit Unions do issue mortgages for their members and generally can beat the rate of the bank, or at least offer the same.
  4. Pre-Approval.  Once you narrow down which type of lender can best meet your needs, the next step is to get pre-approved for a loan.  This is not the same as pre-qualification.  Pre-qualification is an estimate of how much you can afford in a mortgage payment and simply means that the lender has looked at the information and that there is a high probability that the purchaser will qualify for the requested loan.  Pre-approval is a firmer commitment on behalf of the mortgage company & is a more formal process including a credit check & employment verification.  A seller is likely to view you as a more capable buyer if you are pre-approved which can give you an advantage as a buyer in the marketplace.  It is wise to obtain pre-approval at the beginning of the buying process so you know how much home you can afford and risk not qualifying for a home you go under contract with.
  5. Upfront Fees & Expenses.  Most homebuyers are aware that they need money for a down payment, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be 20%.  The best way to know how much you need for a down payment is to talk with a lender – you may qualify for less percent down.  On top of the down payment, there are more costs that you will need to plan for.  Money will need to be allocated for costs associated with the loan, earnest money with your offer, costs for inspections, cost for an appraisal, possibly a new survey or an ILC, and closing costs. Finally, don’t forget about a cushion for things like actually moving and buying items to get settled in your new home.

With these steps taken care of, you may gain the confidence you needed to start searching for your perfect house!

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If you are ready to embark on your mission of finding a home in Colorado – I can be with you for every step of the way.  The process will not be overwhelming with a REALTOR® you can trust.  Please contact me to discuss your real estate goals:

 

 


Reminder: Winter Home Maintenance

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With a lot of the country dealing with bitter cold & figid temperatures, it’s a good reminder to make sure your home is ready for winter.  We have had a few personal experiences that made us realize we hadn’t planned ahead for some of these items: drafty windows in below zero temps, leaves in the gutters that didn’t allow snow to appropriately melt, and not keeping a close enough eye on trees in heavy snowfall.  We learned our lesson with that one and had the worst case scenario happen to us last year with a tree falling onto our house in a big snowstorm.  Luckily, damage was only minimal and to our defense, it was a tree on Boulder County property – not one of ours!  I do come from the standpoint that you learn from your mistakes, but it would probably be best to try to avoid major issues in the first place because burst pipes or chimney fires are not something to joke around about.

Houzz & Huffington Post both have checklists that are worth a read: Your Winter Home Maintenance Checklist and Winter Home Maintenance Checklist.  To me, it’s worth paying attention to things that you think may affect your home and addressing those as soon as possible.

Happy winter, folks!