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As school starts up and our “to do” lists grow, we find ourselves with less pool time and more after school activities.  I find this time of year encouraging and overwhelming.  I googled “most stressful life events” and found that back to school did not make the list.  But, the list proved once again to me that relationships are what is important in life.  Almost all items on the list deal with loved ones and events including hardship as a family.  According to paindoctor.com the list is:

  1.   Death of a spouse or child
  2.   Divorce
  3.   Marital Separation
  4.   Imprisonment
  5.   Death of a close family member
  6.   Personal Injury or illness
  7.    Marriage
  8.    Dismissal from work
  9.    Marital Reconciliation
  10.    Retirement

Buying or selling a home DOES NOT make the list!  I have a friend who tried to sell her house using an online realtor company that puts a sign in your yard and does the paperwork.  I have never seen her more stressed and the house didn’t sell.  It doesn’t have to be like this!!  Get yourself a real estate agent, have them do the work and watch your home sell faster, for more money, and with WAY less stress.   I stumbled across this informative fact filled article on Keeping Current Matters…

 

Is Buying a Home Really More Stressful than Planning a Wedding?

Some Highlights:

  • According to a new survey from Open Listings, 62% of Americans ages 25-54 believe that buying a home is more stressful than planning a wedding.
  • Many young couples are saving for a wedding and a home at the same time.
  • The average US wedding now costs 66% of a median home down payment, according to The Knot.

I have a husband who goes around the house turning off the lights that were left on.  This drives me insane and we all enjoy teasing him about the 3 cents he saves every time he turns the lights off.  (And, I am a little afraid of the dark…when he is out of town, every light in the house is on.)  The reality is, these pennies do add up each month, and we love our earth.  Conserving energy is good for our beautiful earth and for humanity not just our wallets.  Here is a list of 8 ways we can each save money on our utility bills and be earth smart….unlike this home…”turn a light out!!”

 

 

 

8 Smart Home Technology Trends that Can Save You Money

The ‘smart home’ is the new ‘internet of things’, or objects that can serve you better by communicating with each other or directly with you through apps on your smart phone. In the ideal version of the wired future, all of our appliances and gadgets talk to each other seamlessly.

What could living in a smart home look like? Picture something like this:

The lights in your bedroom slowly illuminate to quietly awaken you in the morning, replacing the typical blaring alarm. The aroma of fresh brewing coffee drifts in and stirs your senses. Once the lights are all the way up, the heating system kicks on, just in time to warm up your room so you’re not shocked once you crawl out from underneath the duvet.

When you step into the shower, it turns on automatically and remembers your preferred temperature and water pressure. And it will shut off right when you’re finished as it knows how long you take to bathe.

Once you’ve driven out of your garage, your home alarm system arms itself. And it will only unlock automatically when it “sees” and recognizes someone else from your family approaching through programmed in biometrics.

Do smart homes really work this way right now? Not exactly…while you may find some of these smart features in certain homes, we haven’t reached the point where every feature intuitively knows what you want and when you wanted. However, each year we’re getting closer and closer toward that shiny, idealized ‘Jetson’ future.

Here are some trends that we see for smart homes, many of which may also help you save money:

 

Smart Thermostats

Programmable thermostats that are synchronized with the clock have been around for decades. However, they’re often difficult to set and aren’t necessarily efficient; they simply turn on or off as programmed, whether or not you are there.

With the newer models, smart thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature when they sense you are present. And once you leave, they can kick back to standby mode so that you’re saving energy and money. Nest does all of this, and it also allows you to check your usage from your cell phone so that you can adjust the temperature remotely and save even more.

 

Smart Smoke Detectors

Having a working, effective smoke detector saves lives. But unfortunately, many of us still have those battery-run smoke detectors that make that annoying, piercing beep when their batteries are running low on power. And instead of replacing batteries right away, it’s often easier to pull them out and disable the detector (while risking our lives).

Many of the new smart smoke detectors, like the Birdi, monitor smoke, carbon dioxide, as well as air quality. With this new sensor technology, they know the difference between a real fire and burnt toast.

Smart Sprinkler Control

Weather in our area is predictably unpredictable. Often, especially during the summer months, we fall into a severe drought. But then we might have one season that brings extreme amounts of rain, like we did this past spring.

A smart sprinkler controller like Rachio Iro can not only help save you lots of money on your water bill but also help protect our precious resources.

Programmable by computer or smart phone, it can automatically adjust how often you water your lawn based on the season and the weather forecasts. You can also remotely adjust the settings through a mobile app.

Smart Solar Panels

You can put the sun to work for you by using solar technology to power your home. It’s green and renewable, and can save you money over the long term. A recent study conducted by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center determined that Austin customers who invested in a solar system saved an average of $66 per month during the first year that they owned the system.

With smart solar panels, you can program the technology to monitor their performance and even turn them off in case of a weather emergency or fire.

Smart Home Security Systems

Home monitoring has become much more sophisticated in recent years. With the old-style security systems, you had to call in contractors to wire your home with monitoring sensors.

With new smart technology, you can simply place a few smart devices in your home to monitor movement and sense whether doors and windows are closed or opened. Some systems include audio and video monitoring, as well as sirens to scare off intruders. You get real-time feedback on security breaches through an app. And, because you’re alerted as soon as the system senses an intruder, it’s more likely that they will be caught.

Canary is one popular all-in-one audio-video security system, complete with sirens and night vision.

 

Smart Locks

Go beyond the standard key locks, which can often be compromised by burglars. The new smart lock systems give you more control over those who can gain access to your home.

Some systems, like the Kwikset Kevo, include encrypted virtual keys that you can program for access for a limited amount of time—for example, allowing guests over for a weekend, or cleaning service in during a specific window of time.

Other door locking systems include biometric technology. The Ola smart lock allows you to program your lock to recognize your family member’s fingerprints. Other systems use facial recognition to greet you and unlock your door.

The new August smart lock integrates with Apple’s technology so you can ask Siri to open your door for you.

Smart lighting systems and light bulbs

A well-lit home feels warm and welcoming, and good lighting can instantly increase the value of your home.

However, annual lighting costs can account for up to 12% of your overall electric bill, or over $200 per year according to Energy Star. You can easily reduce this expense simply by using smart lighting technology to add efficiency.

The Philips Hue wifi-enabled lights make it easy to add to your home without installing specialized equipment. Smart lighting dimmers and sensors can give you more control over how much energy you use and allow you to turn them on and off through your smart phone.

New smart light bulbs can give you control over the warmth or coolness levels of your lighting. With the Lifx LED light bulbs, for example, you can program your light bulbs to turn on or off when you want, to slowly wake you up with increasing illumination, or to change from daytime work lighting to entertainment-friendly shades for parties.

Smart Appliances

Programmable slow cookers and coffee makers are the quaint, old-fashioned versions of these home conveniences. Newer, smart appliances give you more control over how your food is kept and prepared, and make it easier for you to complete pesky household chores.

  • Newer coffee makers, like the Smarter coffee machine, let you ‘order’ your coffee exactly to your liking, adjusting everything from bean grind to temperature to strength to time that it’s ready to drink.
  • Smart refrigeration technology can help you store your food at just the right temperature, adjusting the thermostat during peak usage times. For example, the LG THINQ fridgecan alert you via smart phone app if a door is accidentally left open.
  • Smart ovens can ensure that your food is cooked to the right level of done-ness, and alert you when your meal is ready to eat. June, a new counter oven invented by former Google, Apple, Go-Pro and Path employees will give you even more control—it will contain cameras, thermometers, and other technology to ‘learn’ what you like to eat and make menu suggestions.
  • Smart washers and dryers have customizable controls so that you can safely wash any type of fabric. Some units include controls to increase drying time to save energy. And soon, connected appliances from GE, Oster, Samsung, and other makers, will be able to re-order soap and fabric softener directly from Amazon, so you won’t even have to think about running to the store at the last minute.

Have you tested any of these technologies in your home? Did we miss any of your favorite home technologies? Let us know in the comments!

6 years ago we put our first home, a small red brick ranch in a great neighborhood on the market.  It was time to upgrade.  We put a sign in the front yard….and that’s about it.  After months of having the house shown and more than 100 showings, there was not one offer made. We live in a really coveted area of Denver and I was really shocked this was taking so long.  Our home was not crap, we had fixed it up to our liking.  It was clean and tidy.  I didn’t get it!!  We decided to take it off the market and try relisting it a few months later.  Kristen suggested we do some home changes and staging tricks.  We painted a red accent wall more neutral, we took out all of our knick knacks, cleared out the garage, planted some bushes, cleared out some furniture, and had baked cookies for every showing.  Listing the second time went so much better.  We got lots of positive feedback from buyers and any suggestions we took to heart and acted.  We got an asking price offer in just a few showings in less than a month.  We were thrilled!  I am positive that the changes we made were what made the difference.  It was such a less stressful way to sell a house!  When I saw this article on Realtor.com, I was once again reminded that before the FOR SALE sign is put in the yard, sellers need to put forth the effort and make their home ready for the market.  The article below lays out some great starting places….
Written By: Lindsey Mendenhall, Assistant to Andersen Realty

No Second Chances: Our 7-Step Plan to Making a Dazzling First Impression on Buyers

 | Dec 6, 2017

Studies show that we make up our minds about people within seconds of meeting them. So it stands to reason that prospective buyers are doing the very same thing with your house, especially in a red-hot real estate market. More buyers these days are sizing up your space and making lightning-quick decisions about whether it’s worth investigating further—or whether they should hop back in the car and move on to the next house.

So if you want to be sure buyers don’t scurry out the door moments after they arrive, you have to create a fantastic first impression.

Not sure where to begin? It all starts with looking at your home with fresh eyes. Luckily, we’ve broken down seven simple steps you can follow to put your home’s best face forward.

1. ‘Break up’ with your house

If you want to sell your property, you’ll need to distance yourself from it first, says Ronique Gibson, an associate architect and lifestyle expert at Stagetecture.com in Jacksonville, FL. Cut the cord!

“Once you put your home on the market, it’s time to let a professional come in and market it,” Gibson says. “If you stay emotionally attached, the process will be harder and longer.”

2. Focus on curb appeal

You wouldn’t wear soiled sweatpants on a first date—you’d go out of your way to look presentable. So why would you approach the process of selling your home any differently?

Your home’s first impression starts with the exterior, so take a good look at what you’re presenting to the world: What’s the first thing you notice? If it’s peeling paint, dirty windows, and dead plants, you have work to do, says Michael Rosenblum, a broker with Koenig Rubloff Realty Group, a division of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Chicago.

“Ask yourself: ‘If I was buying this home now, what would my expectations be?'” he says.

Remove debris such as fallen tree limbs and leaves. Keep grass and shrubs trimmed, freshen up the mulch in your flowerbeds, and clear away lawn clutter such as yard ornaments, garden tools, and that circa 2007 Big Wheel.

“Putting out some flowers in front of the house or by the front door always makes people smile; it creates the warmth before they even get inside,” says Rosenblum.

Invest in a new doormat, and consider replacing old address numbers and your mailbox if it’s worn or rusty. Patch cracks in the driveway and, while you’re at, give the front door a fresh coat of paint.

3. Ditch as much of your stuff as possible

So now that you’ve addressed the outside, you have to work on your home’s inner beauty. Decluttering is your first priority. So start clearing out the junk and depersonalizing the space—toss or hide mementos, kids’ drawings, and most knickknacks.

“If the seller has all their personal photos out, then the buyer usually gets distracted,” Rosenblum says.

The main goal is for potential buyers to envision themselves in your home, and they can’t do that if your crap is everywhere they look. “All signs of you should be gone,” Gibson says.

That said, take care to find a balance; you don’t want the home to feel sterile—and you’ll want to make sure that none of your rooms are completely empty, a tactic that tends to make a space actually look smaller.

4. Fix the broken stuff—all of it

This should be obvious, but perhaps even you’ve forgotten about that faulty light switch in the upstairs hallway. The thing is, buyers will notice it almost immediately.

So here’s a mini to-do list to tackle those minor issues fast:

  • Check for leaks throughout the house. A drip may not seem important, but it suggests lousy maintenance elsewhere.
  • Check and repair loose door handles and cabinet hinges.
  • Caulk around tubs and sinks.
  • Replace lightbulbs that don’t work. Yes, every single one.

Bottom line: Meet and exceed a buyer’s expectations by paying extra attention to the fine details.

5. Plan a small makeover that packs a punch

You might not want (or be able) to do major renovations before putting your property on the market. But if you focus your attention on the kitchen, bathrooms, and flooring, you can boost a tired home’s overall appearance without completely busting your budget.

“Homeowners can easily change out countertops and appliances, or paint cabinetry,” Rosenblum says. You may want to restain the floors or repaint the walls.

Keeping your carpets? Make sure to splurge on getting them professionally cleaned, especially in high-traffic areas—it’ll immediately brighten a room.

6. Appeal to all the senses

Once your home is clean and decluttered, think about how you can engage potential buyers through other senses, Gibson suggests.

Play soft music during showings, or have a nice water feature outside if you live in a noisy neighborhood,” she says. “Soft throws and textured fabrics will warm up a space. Brewing fresh coffee and baking cookies makes your house smell great.”

Remember not to clean your house the day of a showing; harsh chemicals can be overpowering, and may turn off potential buyers.

7. Keep up appearances—indefinitely

Unless you’re in a red-hot market, your home might not sell immediately after it’s listed. Remember that every week, you might have potential buyers traipsing through—sometimes without much notice from your agent.

That means keeping up all these changes you’ve implemented—and not dragging out the massive toy bins, dog beds, and other daily life items you actually use.

While it might not be easy keeping your house in tiptop shape for days on end, try to remember that the effort you put in now will pay off later—when that one buyer is so wowed by her first impression that she makes an offer you won’t want to refuse.

Wendy Helfenbaum is a journalist and TV producer who covers real estate, architecture and design, DIY, gardening, and travel. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Metropolis, Costco Connection, Garden Collage, Parenting, Canadian Living, Canadian Gardening, and more.
The realtor.com® editorial team highlights a curated selection of product recommendations for your consideration; clicking a link to the retailer that sells the product may earn us a commission.

5 years ago, when my husband and I decided to move in our area, we began driving the neighborhoods.  We wanted trees, well-kept yards, bikes on the front yard, signs of children, and neighbors talking to each other.  We wanted open space trails and well-maintained fences and signage.  We began praying for not the perfect home, but the perfect street and neighbors for our family.  We knew we could fix up any house (with the right square footage and floor plan) and make it our dream home.  But, we have little control over our neighbors and community.  I stumbled across this post from The Paperless Agent and it made me realize that we do have a little, limited control over building strong neighborhoods.  The following shows 10 ways we can influence our areas for the better and build better communities.

 

Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood
Into a Hometown Haven

“Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbor on a first-name basis…is a surprisingly effective first step.” 
Robert Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor and author of Bowling Alone

While advancements in technology have made it possible for us to connect with people from around the world, numerous studies show that it has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions.1

Places where we used to strike up casual conversations—such as a doctor’s office waiting room, bus stop or grocery line—are now filled with people looking at their smart phones, barely acknowledging those around them.

Even many families dining together or relaxing in the evenings can be caught spending more time focused on screens than each other. Is it any surprise that we’ve experienced a steady decline in community involvement?

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam “draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.”2

How is this shift impacting our overall well being? A study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles an individual’s risk of depression.3

CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
If you’re considering a move to a new city or neighborhood, you may be worried about replacing the comfort and support of family and friends you’ll leave behind. Or perhaps you have completed a move but would like to meet more people, build friendships and strengthen your support system.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 ways you can utilize technology to foster in-person connections with your neighbors, make friends and get engaged in your local community.

 

 

  1. JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S SOCIAL NETWORK

A growing number of neighborhoods are utilizing private social networks like U.S.-based Nextdoor and Canadian-based GoNeighbour. These platforms are designed specifically to connect neighbors and include an address verification process.

Residents post about a variety of topics, including neighborhood news, recommendations for local businesses, lost pets, etc. These platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood, but don’t just use them to connect virtually. Extend an invitation to your neighbors to attend an in-person event, such as a park playdate for families, an informal soccer game or a potluck block party.

 

  1. ATTEND A PLACE OF WORSHIP

If you have a religious affiliation, joining a local place of worship is great way to meet people and get involved in your community. Aside from attending services, most religious institutions also host extracurricular activities to foster fellowship amongst the congregation.

Whether you are looking to join a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there are a variety of online resources available to help you find a match in your area, including:

To make the most of your affiliation, look for opportunities to meet in smaller group settings. It’s a great way to form interpersonal relationships with people who share your beliefs and values.

  1. FIND AN INTEREST GROUP

Whatever your favorite hobby or pastime, you’re guaranteed to meet people who share your interests when you join an interest group!

The website Meetup.com has over 32 million members in 288,000 groups in 182 countries. You can search for a group in your area that appeals to you … from book clubs to running groups to professional networking, they have it all.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own group for a monthly fee. The site makes it easy to ask (or require) members to pitch in to cover the cost. It also enables you to promote a corporate sponsor on your page, so you may be able to find a local business to cover the cost.

Most people who join Meetup are there for the same reason you are … to meet people who share their interests. So it’s a great place to make like-minded friends in your community.

  1. LEND A HAND

Volunteering your time and talents is another good way to get engaged in your community and meet those who share a similar mission.

Most nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Find one with a cause you’re passionate about by visiting VolunteerMatch.

You can search by cause, location and keywords, and filter your results to include opportunities that are suitable for kids, seniors or groups. Another option is to search for volunteer positions that require specialized skills. Perhaps you’re musical or maybe you’re good with computers. There could be an organization in your area that needs your talents or skills.

Lotsa Helping Hands is another site focused on connecting volunteers with those in need. Members can request help or search for opportunities to assist others in their area. Most of the volunteer opportunities involve aiding neighbors who are ill or elderly by delivering meals, offering rides to appointments or just stopping by for a visit. This can be a great way to make a direct impact on your neighbors who need a helping hand!

  1. TAKE A CLASS

Taking a class is a wonderful way to develop a skill while meeting people who share your interests and passion for learning.

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish, finish your novel, or learn how to tango, most community colleges offer inexpensive, non-credit classes on a variety of topics.

And if you are pursuing a degree, forego taking your courses online. Opt for the traditional route instead. There’s no substitute for being part of a live community of your peers.

To search for a community college in your area, visit the American Association of Community Colleges or SchoolsInCanada.com.

  1. ATTEND AN EVENT

Attending a live event is another way to engage with members of your community. From festivals to fundraisers to retreats, Eventbrite is a great place to search for events in your area. You can filter your search by category, event type, date and price to find something that fits your interests, schedule and budget.

Be strategic about the type of event you choose. For example, while attending a large festival might be a fun way to feel engaged with your community, it might also be harder to meet people. A retreat or a networking event may offer more opportunities for one-on-one interaction.

  1. SHARE YOUR STUFF

Everyone’s talking about the rise of the “sharing economy” with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb. But there’s also been a rise in “sharing communities,” which facilitate the free exchange of goods among neighbors to reduce consumption and keep usable items out of landfills.

Nonprofit groups like The Freecycle Network are made up of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. Members can post “offers” of free items or “wanted” items they need.

The company Peerby has a similar goal of reducing consumption by encouraging neighbors to lend and borrow items they don’t often use. For example, you can offer to share your blender, rake or ladder. Maybe you need to borrow a drill, cake pan or moving trolley. Peerby enables you to request items to borrow from your neighbors and encourages you to register items you are willing to lend.

The Little Free Library is another innovative way neighbors are participating in a sharing community. Stewards build or purchase a box to house the library and fill it with books they are willing to give away. The library is usually placed in their front yard or in a public outdoor space. Visitors are encouraged to take a book they’d like to read, and in exchange leave a book for someone else to enjoy. With over 60,000 libraries in 80 countries, the organization estimates millions of books are exchanged annually among neighbors.

  1. SUPPORT A COMMUNITY GARDEN

 Community gardens have become increasingly popular in both urban and rural areas across North America. Not only do they beautify a neighborhood, they also foster community, encourage self-reliance, reduce family food budgets, conserve resources, and provide opportunities for recreation and exercise.

The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. The organization’s website enables you to search for existing community gardens in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you might considering starting one. The site provides helpful tips and resources for organizing a garden in your neighborhood.

  1. CARPOOL WITH A COWORKER

In the spirit of joining a “sharing community,” carpooling offers many similar benefits. It presents an opportunity to form a bond with coworkers and/or neighbors during your daily commute. Additionally, you can save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle, lower carbon emissions, and in many cities reduce your commute time by taking advantage of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel lanes.

The success of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft has spurred a new wave of carpooling websites and apps that aim to revolutionize the way we commute by making it easier and more convenient to carpool. While many of these are still in their infancy stages, they are expanding into new markets and improving functionality at a rapid pace.

Kangaride Local, Scoop and Waze Carpool are just a few examples, and more are popping up every day. They are currently available in limited markets throughout the United States and Canada, but are becoming prevalent in more cities as residents opt-in. Check to see if any of these are available in your local area.

Alternatively, you can try posting on your neighborhood’s social network to see if one or more of your neighbors are commuting to a nearby location. Take turns driving and start benefiting from all that carpooling has to offer!

  1. PARTICIPATE IN WORLD NEIGHBORS DAY

The organizers behind World Neighbors Day promote it as “an invitation to share a moment with your neighbors, to get to know each other better and develop a real sense of community.”

In Canada it’s held on the second Saturday in June, and in the United States it’s held on the third Sunday in September. Participants are encouraged to organize gatherings with their neighbors to build relationships that “form the fabric of our communities.”

You can participate by attending or organizing a gathering in your neighborhood. Examples include: a block party, outdoor movie screening, book exchange, charity bake sale, volleyball game, etc. Anything that brings neighbors together in a fun and relaxed setting is a good choice!

Gatherings can be promoted through your neighborhood’s social media network, blog or listserv, or you can go the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers door-to-door. Whatever you do, be sure to make your gathering inclusive and welcoming to all.

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

 As with anything in life, you will get out what you put in. It can take time to build lasting and meaningful friendships with your neighbors, but the effort you make is likely to pay off tenfold.

The tried-and-true way to make friends, expand your circle, grow your support system and get engaged in your community? Be a good neighbor yourself.

 

 

What are the best ways you’ve found to meet and engage with your neighbors? Share your success stories or challenges in the comments below!

 

Sources:

  1. Lengacher, L. (2015) Mobile Technology: Its Effect on Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Interaction. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences –
    http://www.kon.org/urc/v14/lengacher.html
  2. Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster –
    http://bowlingalone.com/
  3. Bergland, C. (2015 October 5) Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression

We are often asked, How hard is it to sell a house in a market where houses don’t stay but 1-2 days before having multiple offers? It is hard, trust us! FSBO are tricky and here are 5 reasons why from Realtor.com

For-Sale-by-Owner, or FSBO, transactions are commonly seen in seller’s markets or whenever homeowners want to maximize their profits by not having to pay commission.

However, statistics show that selling your home with the assistance of a professional real estate agent will garner you a higher profit, enough to cover the commission as well as put more money in your pocket. According to the National Association of Realtor®’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the average FSBO sales price was $185,000, while the average price for a home represented by an agent was $245,000. That’s a difference of $60,000!

If you choose to sell your home on your own, you’ll be negotiating and relying on your own skill to finalize a contract, leaving yourself open to potential legal problems and a smaller profit when all is said and done.

Here are some of the top reasons why FSBO home sales can go very wrong.

1. Marketing your home online isn’t as easy as you think

Buyers always start online, and FSBO sellers are unlikely to get the exposure they need on a number of listings websites to reach their audience, says Realtor® Wendy Hooper with Coast Realty Services in Newport Beach, CA. Sticking a sign in your yard or trying to pull off some DIY social media marketing hardly has the same effect.

How an agent can help: Using an agent automatically offers widespread exposure for your listing through the multiple listing service. Your real estate agent will also have the means to promote your house to fellow agents to share with their clients. FSBO sellers would have to shell out big bucks for advertising and still might not reach the most important audience.

2. You could price your home wrong

Those who put their homes on the market as FSBO tend to set a price based on an online assessment tool or the lofty sum that the neighbor down the street claims they were offered—two methods that are liable to put the listing price way off.

“Using a free online valuation tool is like bringing your doctor a printout of your Google search about symptoms and possible cures,” says Jon Sterling, a real estate consultant with Keller Williams Realty in San Francisco. “There’s no substitute for actual market knowledge.”

The danger in overpricing a home is that it will languish on the market, and buyers will wonder why, even if you lower the price later, says Mark Ferguson, a real estate agent with Pro Realty in Greeley, CO.

“The home becomes stigmatized, and buyers are likely to pay a lower price when the home has been on the market an extended period of time,” Ferguson says.

How an agent can help: A real estate agent will provide an accurate home value based on a comprehensive market analysis to help you arrive at the right listing price. The goal is to make sure you’re pricing your home in the sweet spot—not too high so that you are turning off potential buyers, and not too low so you are leaving money on the table.

3. You could underestimate (or overestimate) how much money to spend on curb appeal

“A novice home seller is unlikely to view their home objectively or know how to stage it to appeal to the broadest audience,” says Hooper. That means you might be turning off potential buyers with an amateur paint job, an overgrown yard, or even a broken doorbell.

On the flip side, you might end up investing far more money than is needed. Hooper had sellers who were convinced they had to totally overhaul their 35-year-old kitchen and floors to the tune of about $50,000. Instead, she advised a $10,000 investment for paint, staging, and minor repairs, which still netted $45,000 above their target price.

How an agent can help: Even if you’re not up for a full home makeover, your agent has an eye for detail and can recommend simple, budget-conscious swaps that can translate into real dollars when it comes negotiation time.

“We know how to spend the least amount of money to get the best outcome and home presentation possible,” Hooper says.

4. Showings are a drag

FSBO sellers don’t realize how draining it can be to set up showings. And on top of scheduling actual potential buyers, you also have to deal with both looky-loos (gawkers with no intention of buying the house) and “sharks,” (investors looking to flip your house for a profit).

“Sellers who advertise their FSBO will quickly be inundated with calls from real estate investors who are looking to save the same commission the seller hopes to save,” Sterling says. Unfortunately, typically these offers are very low and could likely lead to no sale.

How an agent can help: Your agent will handle all the scheduling and staff the tours for you, so all you have to do is quickly tidy up and vacate.

In fact, that is another key reason to have an agent: Buyers can get uncomfortable with a seller hanging around during a showing, says Ferguson. Agents also will weed out unsuitable offers and collect feedback that potential buyers might be unwilling to share directly with the seller, which can make subsequent showings even stronger.

5. Preparing your own paperwork can be tricky

Unless you have a background in contracts or law, you might want to leave the paperwork to the pros. The closing process can entail more than 20 pages of complicated paperwork, including the contract and addendums designed to cover all of the situations that could go wrong, says Ferguson.

For example, houses built before 1978 require an addendum regarding lead-based paint and some states need a release confirming the presence of carbon monoxide detectors.

How an agent can help: Your agent will take care of all property disclosures and corresponding documentation to avoid future liability.

“If the seller does not use an agent and doesn’t know every law and required paperwork specific to their community, they open themselves up to lawsuits,” warns Ferguson.

This article was written by Cathie Ericson is a journalist who writes about real estate, finance, and health. She lives in Portland, OR.

On May 1, 2017, property tax valuations were mailed to all homeowners. The taxes are assessed every two years per Colorado Law, and with the sales price increase in homes around the Denver/Metro area, you are sure to see higher taxes. We have some FAQ’s from the Arapahoe County Website about the property tax valuation and if you want to file a dispute it has to be done in the month of May (see question 6) in the county your home is located.

1.How is the value determined on my property?

Values are most often determined by comparing your property with properties that are similar in location, design, size, age and amenities. The value placed on your property for the year 2017 was based on sales between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016, utilizing the Sales Comparison Approach. A copy of this method for your residential property is available from our office and will be included in your Notice of Value. Compsheet Layout and Time Adjusted Sales Prices

2.How often is property revalued?

Colorado law requires all assessors to reappraise all real property including land and improvements, every two years during the odd-numbered years.

3.What is the difference between actual value and assessed value?

The assessor determines the actual (market) value for all real and personal property. Then a percentage (assessment rate) is multiplied by the actual value to determine with the assessed value. In Colorado the residential assessment rate is currently 7.96%. For all other properties including commercial, personal property, vacant land and agricultural land, the assessment rate is 29%.

4.How are property taxes calculated?

The actual value is multiplied by the assessment rate which is then multiplied by the mill levy. The residential rate in Colorado currently is 7.96%. The assessment rate for all other property, including vacant land, is 29%. Example: $150,000 (actual value) x 7.96% (residential assessment rate) x .081265 (mill levy) = $ 970.30 (annual tax dollars). Please note this is only an example. Your value and mill levy maybe different.

5.Why don’t all properties increase or decrease by the same percentage?

Each property is revalued to a June 30, 2016 value regardless of the percentage change. Some people think the previous (2016) values are simply multiplied by an inflation factor, but in a reappraisal year, new data from relevant time frame is used, along with the latest mass appraisal techniques.

6.If I do not agree with the actual value, what steps should I take?

You may come into the office during May to speak to an appraiser about your value. Or, you may file an appeal online, or mail an appeal to our office. This appeal must be postmarked by the first business day each June. It is important that if you choose to appeal the Assessor’s value, you should provide pertinent information supporting your estimated value. If you appoint an agent to act on your behalf, that person needs your written authorization.

If you would like to read all of the FAQ’s from the,

Arapahoe County Website click here.

Jefferson County Property Info: Click Here 

Douglas County Property Info: Click Here

Denver County Property Info: Click Here

If you would like for us to answer any questions or concerns, please give us a call at 720-314-6861.

How do you find a neighborhood when you are moving away from the city or town you know? Your Realtor can only give you so much information based on schools, resale statistics, and their personal opinions as to which neighborhood they think is the best. Do you start stopping strangers on the street asking their opinion? Do you ask the local coffee shop barista what he or she thinks is the best area? Do you enlist an FBI agent? Do you Facebook stalk someone?

Actually, all you have to do is read this blog post!  We have 10 steps to find out about a neighborhood when you have never been there.

  1. General Demographics: The first census was required by the constitution in 1790, and U.S. Census Bureau workers have been counting the population—now more than 322 million people—every 10 years ever since. It’s all easily accessible, and you’d be amazed at the depth of detail.Their latest count, the 2010 Census, breaks down the nitty-gritty of age, race, population density, and even average commute times to work by neighborhood. The bureau’s maps also offer a graphic overview of select demographics.
  2. For what is unique: Type any address into NeighborhoodScout and its proprietary search algorithm provides a ton of data—median home price, crime rates, ease of commute—in one easy-to-digest snapshot. And beyond that, the site can tell you what makes a neighborhood unique. For instance, you may learn that a certain area has a high percentage of brownstones, or gay/lesbian families, or homeowners who don’t own cars.
  3. Walkability: Since “walkability” is such a buzzword, especially among millennials, it makes sense that there’s a site devoted to telling you how easy it is to get around by foot. That’s where Walk Score comes in. How easily you can you hoof it to a coffee shop, grocery shopping, and parks gets crunched into one overall rating showing how conducive an area is to walking. You say you’d rather spend your time getting around on two wheels instead of two feet? Bike Score gives you a sense of a neighborhood’s bike-friendliness from the extent of its bike lanes and trails.
  4. Neighborhood Stroll: The free walking app Walc shows you what you’ll actually see on a jaunt, rather than the nondescript compass directions used for every other directional app. Simply enter a potential address into Walc, add a destination, and take a leisurely stroll in a neighborhood, without ever stepping foot on a street. You’ll get a sense of place from the landmarks that pop up: Do you turn right at an alehouse or a Pilates studio?
  5. Public Transportation Access: Each day, 35 million Americans use public transportation, making access to it a must for, well, at least 35 million people. To check out an area’s accessibility to trains, buses, and light rail, David Reiss, a professor of law and research director at the Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship at Brooklyn Law school recommends researching the Transit Score. “These scores are great, really giving you a sense of how important it is to have a car in a particular community,” he told Realtor.com.
  6. A big one when you have kids: School Quality- Sure, a seller may tell you a local school is great. But don’t rely on bias when it comes to your child’s education. Instead, go to the nonprofit Greatschools.org and type in a potential ZIP code. You’ll have a chance to read school report cards crafted by reviews from teachers, parents, and even the students themselves.
  7. Crime Rates: To see how safe it would be to set foot outside your home, enter your address into My Local Crime to pull up any recent local crimes from vandalism to shootings. Click on the map function to see where exactly those crimes were committed (in other words, maybe certain blocks to avoid after dark?).
  8. For the lay of the land: When Professor Reiss asked students to find interesting web resources to learn about neighborhoods, they discovered that topological maps are a cool tool. Most maps show only a two-dimensional rendering. Topographical maps, which add the third dimension of elevation, show the surface and physical features of a given neighborhood. Besides highlighting hills and valleys, topography is important when it comes to weather events (just ask anyone in a flood plain).
  9. What do people do for fun? You know Yelp can help you discover local restaurants, and that Moviefone can let you know what theaters might be near you. But what about entertainment, culture and nightlife? Enter Gravy, a website and app that gives you the rundown on an area’s events, from rock concerts to church suppers.
  10. You want a neighborhood just like the one you are in now: Love your neighborhood, but feel it’s time to move? Head back to NeighborhoodScout once more. Users can find their ideal neighborhood by selecting filters that take into account their lifestyle preferences—whether family-friendly or suitable for first-time home buyers. Alternatively, if you love your current neighborhood, enter your address to find comparable towns throughout the country.

If you are need of help in your home search please call Andersen Realty today and we could be looking at your next home tomorrow!

Last week we wrote about the cost of a renovation and this week we want to inform you about renovations that produce the highest return on your investment. Everyone loves to make the most money when they sell their house, right? Many times we walk into clients homes with tile from Morocco (don’t get us wrong, it is BEAUTIFUL) and they have spent thousands. The market cannot justify a $5000 price increase to the value of their home because they wanted the beautiful Moroccan  tile. The cost might only be an increase of $2500 which isn’t that great of a ROI.

According to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, you’ll recoup an average of 64% of what you paid for a renovation if you sell your home this year. To arrive at these figures, Remodeling asked consultants in various markets to estimate the average cost for 30 home improvement projects, from adding a bathroom to replacing a roof. Then, they asked real estate agents nationwide to estimate the expected resale value of these renovations so that readers could compare their out-of-pocket costs to how much money they’d get back when it came time to sell their home.

Realtor.com asked, what projects gets you the most bang for your home renovation buck? It may not be nearly as sexy (or fun!) as adding a chef’s kitchen or glam bathroom, but attic insulation gets the top spot. That’s right: Stuff some fiberglass insulation into the walls of a 35-by-30-foot attic, and you’ll pay an average of $1,268. But when you sell, you will rake in $116.90 for every $100. For you math-challenged out there, that’s a recoup of 116.9% of your costs. It’s the only home reno on this year’s report that redeems more money than you spend!

The next best-paying renovation on the list: manufactured stone veneer, offering a respectable 92.9% return. Meanwhile—sorry, luxury tub fans—the home improvement project that reaps the worst ROI is the addition of a bathroom, at 56.2% (although the “added value” of an extra bathroom for anyone who’s ever had to wait their turn for one is, of course, priceless).

remodeling-012 remodeling-022

As you can see, small projects produce the greatest return on your investment while room additions might not give you that much money back on your investment.

If you need our help determining if the remodel project will produce a high return on investment, please give us a call for a consultation. We can look at sales numbers in your neighborhood and compare it to your cost of renovation. Happy Renovating!

Every time you turn on HGTV someone is flipping a house, renovating a house, or fixing a house to sell and then buying a house they have to fix up. They never really tell you how much the renovations cost, so this blog post is going to shed some light on home renovation costs.

How much does it cost?

To get a rough idea, Than Merrill, founder of FortuneBuilders.com, says the general costs associated with a remodel look like this:

  • Low ($25,000 to $45,000): Interior and exterior painting, small repairs (like refinishing cabinets) and new landscaping.
  • Medium ($46,000 to $75,000): The low-cost upgrades above, plus a total kitchen renovation and minor bathroom upgrade.
  • High ($76,000 and up): Low- and medium-cost upgrades, plus fixing any foundation issues, roof and sewer line problems.

With this rough estimate realtor.com featured an article that broke down costs by room. We all know that kitchens and bathrooms cost the most to renovate, but most of the cost is due to appliances and cabinets. You can go crazy on appliances; which makes the cost of the renovation sky rocket. The same goes for a bathroom. If you want a standard tub, your renovation cost is going to be average. If you want a jetted tub or a clawfoot cast iron tub, then the renovation cost just doubled.

Realtor.com says this is what you can expect for a home that has 2500 square feet.

  • Kitchen: The national average cost of a kitchen remodel is $20,474. If a kitchen only needs minor upgrades, renovations should start at around $10,000. A full gut can reach more than $50,000, depending on the quality of materials and appliances installed, says Merrill.
  • Bathroom: A bathroom upgrade typically costs about $9,000 and tops out at $20,000. (Of course, you could spend more by adding such spalike touches as a steam shower.)
  • New roof: The cost of protecting all your upgrades from the elements will run you around $20,000.
  • New floors: Installing new wood floors will cost about $4,400, while laminate, which is less expensive, will set you back about $2,800.
  • Electrical updates: If you’re replacing an old panel and a home’s worth of outdated wiring, expect to spend $3,000 to $5,000.
  • Replacement siding: Putting new exterior siding on your home runs an average of $14,000.
  • Replacement windows: If you plan to replace 10 windows and frames to save on your energy bill, the cost will range between $8,500 (vinyl) and $20,000 (wood).
  • The contractor: Unless you plan to oversee the renovation yourself, a budget should include the cost of a general contractor. They usually charge 10% to 15% of the project’s total budget. So for a $50,000 renovation, expect to pay a contractor $5,000 to $7,500.

You are probably wondering how one can save money on a renovation? One easy way to save money on renovations is to negotiate to pay actual builder costs on finish materials, says Jesse Fowler, president of Tellus Build, a green custom-build firm in Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties.

The contractor you choose should be getting a discount on retail prices, and Fowler says that this can benefit you, too, in that you can “capture some or all of those savings.”

Return on Investment (ROI)

In the end, all homeowners want to know is if they put all of this money and time into a home renovation what is my return on investment?

A typical kitchen remodel typically yields an 83.1% return on investment. That means for every $1,000 you spend on those cabinets and countertops, you’ll get back $831.

Meanwhile, a bathroom renovation boasts an ROI of 65.7%, and if you go for those pricey wood-framed windows, you’ll enjoy a high ROI of 72.1%.

Let’s face it, all renovations help sell your home. If you bought a fixer upper you hopefully paid less and have it in the budget to do all the renovations needed or wanted. Renovations help and are needed in the market today. Home buyers want a move in ready home and as a home seller you want to stand apart from the competition with the best renovations. The one thing you don’t want to do is over renovate with tile from Morocco, because you are more than likely not going to be able to recoup those costs.

In the next blog post we will talk about renovation costs versus ROI.

My home will sell without a Realtor! I don’t need to be out all of that money for commissions! What do Realtors do that I can’t do? Why do I need a Realtor?

In today’s market many homeowners feel that their home will sell itself and they do not need to pay out 6% (5.8% in Denver) in commissions for Realtors. This is why flat fee listing companies have been growing in the area. We are here to help you understand why you NEED to hire a Realtor to sell your home.

What does it take to be a Realtor? There are many factors that go into being a Realtor and many financial obligations. You have to take a test and pass the test after going to Real Estate School. That costs money. You have to join different associations and adhere to strict ethical standards. That costs money and you have to have a moral compass. If you want to be the broker, then you have more school and more responsibility. The broker (Kristen Andersen is a broker) oversees all of the agents in the office, therefore you have more responsibility which equals more money out of your pocket. When a Realtor lists a home, there are many costs associated and here is a quick breakdown. You have MLS fees, advertising costs, marketing costs, employee costs, printing costs, standard business costs, insurance costs, car costs, and many more costs of doing business. They are self employed and working hard for you, the homeowner.

What it takes to be a flat fee company? Nothing….well you need a computer, MLS fee, and that is about it. Companies hire a real estate agent and a real estate broker so they can list properties on MLS and maybe help with some of the contract questions. Most of these companies are based outside of Colorado and have no clue what the market is like. You will never meet the person and only talk on the phone to whoever answers. How do you know that person is helping you get the best deal on your investment? You don’t know and have no real connection to this customer service agent that is either paid an hourly wage or a commission. They don’t care how much you get for your house or how fast your home sales. They probably don’t even live in the area so they don’t know your neighborhood. They can’t help you when it comes to recommending a reputable company to make repairs after inspections, if that is needed. They can’t do much and that is why they only charge a flat fee.

Why does it take less time to sell a home with a Realtor than with a flat fee company? If you list with a flat fee company, be prepared to have your house shown a lot or not a lot depending on the area and not get any offers. Why would that happen? This happens because the buyers agent will steer the client to a home that they know the other person is represented by another Realtor. Why would the agent do that? First of all, money and second of all, the buyers agent doesn’t want to do all the work. If another Realtor is involved that means the process is smoother and works well for both Realtors. All the deadlines are being met of the contract and everyone knows what they are doing.

We could go on and on about the benefits of using us, a Realtor, but we want you to know that it isn’t about the commission for us. We truly care about each client and want you to sell your home quickly and for the most amount of money! We consistently get 102% of the sales price on each transaction and are under contract in 7 days on average. The amount we get over your asking price almost pays for our commission and your home isn’t sitting on the market for months in this hot market.

We would love to talk to you about our services and see if we are a good fit to list your home. Give us a call today at 720-314-6863.