Simple Home Staging Tips Every Seller Needs to Know

No matter how hot the market is most sellers get a bit anxious before officially putting their home on the market. They question whether they have good decorator taste. They also question if the buyers will be excited when they see the home and want to buy it. Staging can take some of the guess work away and insure that buyers will see themselves living in your home and be willing to offer what it takes to buy it!
According to the National Association of Realtors:

  • 31 % of buyers increase their offer by 1% to 5% because the home was staged.
  • 77% of buyers felt more able to see themselves moving into a home that was staged
  • 40% of buyers were more willing to visit a staged online listing.

It is easy to see from this information that staging is beneficial for homes of all sizes and price ranges. It affects both online views and in person showings. So here are some tips for selling your home for potentially more money and a shorter amount of time.

  • Remove the clutter. This is the number one rule in home staging. Removing clutter can entail removal of extra furniture and all of the stuff that can keep a run from feeling as spacious and functional as it should. If you do not have room for these extra things but would like to keep them it may be time to rent a storage unit.
  • Become a clean freak! Cleaning is an important part of making sure that your home looks its best. Deep clean before the home is listed for sale and then regularly as they home is one the market. It is a good idea to do these three things every day while your home is on the market. Mop and vacuum. Wipe down surfaces and a make beds. A nice clean scent can be appealing too. Be careful overpowering smells can be a turn off.
  • De-personalize your home. Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your home. If you have too many personal photos and mementos out Buyers can have a hard time imagining themselves in the space and instead feel like they are simply visiting your home. Do not forget to put away your personal care and grooming items too!
  • Make it neutral. Give your home a quick makeover by painting rooms light, neutral colors. Neutral colors are not just for paint. Simple white towels hanging in the bathroom and other light accessories go a long way.

Getting a home ready for sale is no easy task. The benefits of preparing your home for sale far outweigh the time and effort that you put into it. Lestel provides professional home staging advice and can bring in product so that you do not need to go out and purchase items used to stage your home. Doing this can make a huge difference in what you walk away with when you sell your home. Call Lestel to learn more!

Colorado Water Law

For those from back East our water laws in Colorado and the rest of the West can seem quite confusing. In fact even when you understand the basics a Colorado resident can still still get a little bit turned around when trying to work through where water rights may have gone. We would like to supply you with a simplified and abbreviated lesson on water law in Colorado, however, this knowledge is no substitute for ones own due diligence or utilizing legal council as water ownership can easily be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

In the West water law is based on the prior appropriation doctrine. The simplest way to remember this is “first in time first in right.” In the East water law is based off of riparian rights. This means that abutting a river or stream grants you access to utilize this water. Western water rights holders do not need to be near to the water source in order to obtain rights, which is why there are a substantial number of water pipeline projects in Colorado.

Purchasing a property in Colorado may mean several things when it comes to gaining water for the property. Some properties are under the service of municipal service providers or other water districts. This means they simply pay their monthly water bill and have water provided to the property through existing water infrastructure. This is the typical situation for most homes within city limits throughout Northern Colorado. Others may have access to a well. In this case the well will have been permitted for a specific use. This could be for residential use only or for agriculture or livestock use as well. Finally, you might have to buy shares of water in order to participate in the water district where your property is located. This is most often the case in areas outside of major towns and cities, and when you are building a new home.

Hopefully, that provides a very brief overview of Colorado water law. There is obviously a great deal to be concerned about when it comes to water and the real estate transaction in general. We are happy to work with you to provide guidance through all the unknowns and to make sure your new property meets your needs. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

Do you have what it takes to be a great Landlord?

In order to have great tenants and keep them you have to be a great landlord.  What does that look like?  Great landlords treat their tenants as customers.  They follow the law and the lease that is in place. A great landlord is professional and remembers that they are running a business and their actions reflect this.  

Here are some tips on how to be a great landlord.  You can decide if this is something that you can do.

  • First and most importantly provide your new tenant with a clean place to move into. That means appliance and the carpet professionally cleaned too.  
  • Be warm and welcoming to your tenant.  If they are new to the area, provide them with some helpful hints and ideas on where to get groceries, pharmacies and where to get a good burger in town.  Let your tenant know trash day, where to park and other information so they can feel at home. 
  • Stock the bathroom with toilet paper.  Make sure there is a roll of paper towels in the kitchen and perhaps a bottle of an all-purpose cleaner.  This shows them you care about cleanliness.
  • Review the lease with the tenants.  Make sure they know what is expected of them. This benefits both of you.  Let them know that you follow the lease to the letter, ALWAYS.  That way they know exactly what to expect.    
  • Be professional and look the part.  Tenants are not your friends but a friendly professional relationship is ideal. It is a business relationship.  Keep your emotional distance.
  • Always keep your cool whatever the situation. Be respectful.
  • Be accessible.  If your tenant needs to reach you, you need to be reachable. Respond promptly when your tenant emails or calls. If you are going to be unavailable for a period of time, provide them with an emergency contact. 

Being a good landlord is not complicated.  Treat others the way that you would want to be treated.  Be respectful, professional and available.  Make sure that you properly maintain your property and you will be considered a great landlord. 

What is an ideal investment?

Ask a Realtor and they will more than likely tell you that real estate is an ideal investment. But why do they think that? Realtors like to invest in real estate because it is something that they know and they have some control over a real estate investment. But what are some other advantages to this type of investment and why does it make sense for just anyone to invest in real estate? Here is a list of reasons why real estate is such a good investment.

Income. An investment in real estate generates income when rent on at property is more than the expenses there will be a positive cash flow. Of course you get income from a savings account and income on a stock if it pays a dividend. But stocks don’t produce the income until they are sold.

Depreciation. This is a tax benefit that is unique to rental real estate and is one of the few tax shelters that are still available as a part of the tax code. This is a non-cash deduction from taxable income for wear and tear on the asset.

Appreciation. Most real estate properties will go up in value over time. According to the National Association of Realtors the annual price growth over the last 10 years has been 6.4%. In just the last five years it has grown at 7.3% annually. If you are considering investing in a particular community it is wise to check what kind of appreciation they have had in the last 5 to 10 years.

Equity buildup. This is the result of the amortization of the mortgage. Each payment applies less to the interest and more to the principal. This increases the equity that you have in the property each month that you make a payment.

Leverage. This occurs when borrowed funds are used to control an investment. An example of this is when you purchase a property for $100,000 cash. You rent the property and paid the expenses and have $10,000 left, your investment will have generated a 10% return.

You can always just leave your money in the bank. It is insured and safe. Interest rates today on savings are between 0.35% and 0.5%. Not a very good investment if you ask me. Another option is the stock market. The stock market is a record high levels and that may look like a very appealing option for investing in. But it is volatile and you may not have the know how to make money investing there.

Most homeowners are familiar with the general operation of a home and the maintenance, taxes and insurance on a home. Making the move to real estate does not feel like a completely unknown thing to jump to.

Connecting with a good real estate agent that has investment properties themselves is a great way to learn about what to look for in a good investment. Also consider joining an real estate investment group in your community to start learning about investing in rentals. Then make the jump and buy an investment property. The benefits are real…and you can do it!

Pandemic Moving

We know that the pandemic has affect the real estate market across the country.  It has caused a lot of people to decide to make a move.  Over 8.9 million people have relocated since the beginning of the pandemic.  This information is from collect from both the National Association of Realtors and the United States Postal Service from March to October of 2020.  Top ten states with the most people moving IN during this time include: New Jersey, South Carolina, Maryland, Iowa, Connecticut, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Ohio and Mississippi.  The top ten states with people moving OUT include: New York over 10,000 people left New York, New York alone, Texas, District of Columbia. North Carolina, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois. Minnesota, West Virginia and Florida. Much of this moving has been out of major cities. 

One of the communities that has seen the biggest gain in this time is Williamson County, Texas.  They have seen over 3,800 people move there. Interesting since the state of Texas has had a record number of people leaving the state.

In the data, Colorado was not mentioned as one of the top 10 for people moving in or out.  I have seen many people relocating here.  If you can live anywhere while you are able to work remotely, who wouldn’t love to live here with a view of the mountains from your desk.  This has increased our demand for both properties to buy and rent.  National Association of Realtors is expecting similar patterns of moving to play out in 2021.  Remember if you know anyone that is moving.  I can connect them to a great agent anywhere.  I am a part of a great organization that includes the top four percent of agents nationwide.  I can interview agents and pick the perfect person for them to work with.

10 Things To Do In Fort Collins This Summer

Fort Collins is an award winning place to live. As things begin to reopen, here is a list of 10 fun things to enjoy this summer.  

  • Catch a movie at the Holiday Twin Drive-In.  Nestled near the foothills of Fort Collins for almost 50 years, the Holiday Twin is one of Americas few remaining drive in movie theaters. Bring a blanket or camp chairs and head down out for that double feature.
  • Ride the Tolley.  Ride back in time on Birney Car 21, a restored 1919 street car that has been running its summer route from City Park up Mountain Ave. for 32 years.  Car 21 is owned by the city and operate by the volunteers of the Fort Collins Municipal Railway. Take a ride Noon to 5pm weekends from May through September.
  • Take a Dip.  Gather the kids for a day at the pool.  The city operate on outdoor pool.  City Park Pool, offers daily admission $7 for adults and $6 for children age 2 to 17 years of age. City Park Pool is not just a pool it also include water slides for fun. 
  • Want so more water fun?  Head to Horsetooth Reservoir.  There is no place quite like it.  Head to Inlet Bay Marina at 4314 Shoreline Drive to rent a boat, canoe, kayak, paddleboard or hydrobike.
  • Do I even have to say it?  Go on a brewery tour,  Call head to schedule your tour of New Belgium to secure a spot or make a reservation 24 hours in advance for Odell’s tour.  We have a whopping 21 breweries so even it some don’t offer tours they are likely to have a patio for a relaxing spot for a beer. 
  • Tube the Poudre.  Why head to a water parks lazy river when we have one of our very own. From Mid-July through August dust off the tube stashed in the garage and drop it in the river for a cooling trip down the Poudre.  Know the dangers and tube at your own risk.  Note I did say Mid-July through August.  Earlier may have the river too high and moving too fast.
  • Bike to work. Every month is bike month in Fort Collins but June is actually Bike Month in Colorado.  To celebrate pedal yourself to work and enjoy all that our bike trails have to offer.  Find out more at the Bike to Work Website.
  • Go Put Putting!  Have some fun and play mini golf.  Fort Fun is located at 1513 E, Mulberry is just waiting for you with one of the most fun mini golf courses in the area.  They also offer go karts, bumper cars, giant slide and an arcade.  You do not have to be a kid to have fun here.
  • Play a painted piano in Old Town. Pianos about town, brings locally painted pianos to our city’s nooks, crannies and alleys.  Thirteen donated pianos are all about town.  Sit down and show the world what you can do on a piano.  Is your song a simple one?
  • Catch a concert. Try out the Lagoon Summer Concert Series at Colorado State University. They are making a comeback after 2020 series being canceled.  This year they have two scheduled.  One on July 9th and the other on July 31.  Go to for more information. Grab your lawn chair and a blanket and get ready to enjoy some live music. 

Are We In a Housing Bubble?

Is Northern Colorado experiencing a housing bubble in 2021? This is a question that I am frequently asked. But just what is a housing bubble? A housing bubble is a temporary period of time that is characterized by high demand and low supply. This causes a boost in pricing. A housing bubble can be caused by a combination of low interest rates, economic prosperity and easy access to credit. So, what is the concern with a housing bubble? The concern is when speculators enter the market. This causes a boost in demand over and above “real” buyer demand. Speculators can be investors from out of the area and even fix and flippers. This causes an already tight market with limited supply to have even higher demand, pushing housing prices even higher. The price of housing, like any good in a free market is driven by the law of supply and demand. When the demand increases the price goes up. When the price of housing is going up faster than expected, many people fear that the bubble is about to burst and prices are going to come crashing down. Is that the case in 2021? I would say that this is not likely. I see some major difference between 2021 and our last housing crisis. Here are several major differences.

1) Mortgage lending practices that brought down some of the major banks and mortgage companies during our last financial crisis have led to many regulatory changes. Federal regulators have new stricter requirements of borrowers and new requirements of lending intuitions. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to enforce these new regulations. Because of this the housing market is safer than it was 15 years ago.

2) In 2007 and 2008 the market in many parts of the country was flooded with foreclosure homes. This caused falling prices of homes. The pandemic has caused mass unemployment, however the forbearance programs have allowed homeowners to postpone their monthly payments without penalties. Many of those unemployed homeowners will resume their mortgage payments as they again become employed, avoiding foreclosure.

3) One of the major differences between the housing crisis and the pandemic is that homeowners today have EQUITY in their homes. That equity is the difference between the current market value of your home and the amount that you owe on your mortgage. As prices have risen your equity increases also. During the housing crisis many home owners found that the amount that their home was worth was less than what they owed on the home.

No one can predict what will happen for sure. But low interest rates and demand have certainly driven prices up in 2021. Hold on for the ride to see where we go for the rest of 2021.

Why Work With a CRS Agent?

Lestel has a number of designations that contribute to the alphabet soup on her business card. However, one that she is most proud of his her CRS designation. But what is a CRS designation and how does it benefit you to work with one?

What is a CRS?

A CRS REALTOR® is a Certified Residential Specialist—one of the top 3 percent of real estate agents in the U.S. CRS agents have more experience and training than the average REALTOR® and they are part of a community of REALTORS® dedicated to improving the real estate industry for homebuyers and sellers everywhere.

Why Work With a Certified Residential Specialist Agent?

Buying or selling your home is one of the biggest and most important decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. You need someone you can trust by your side, who is looking out for your best interests and is willing to put all their knowledge and experience to work for you. You need a CRS.

Not all real estate agents are made the same: There are millions of real estate agents out there, and their experience and dedication to their profession and clients varies widely.

The threshold to becoming a real estate agent is surprisingly low. Requirements vary by state, but some ask for as little as 40 hours of training and few ask for more than 100 hours—compare that to the 1,000 hours that are typically required to become a hair stylist.

To become a CRS, however, REALTORS® must meet a number of stringent requirements that combine advanced hours of education and training, experience and success in the marketplace. A CRS agent adheres to a strict code of ethics that binds them to perform in the best interest of their clients at all times.

CRSs are required to have between 25 and 150 transactions and between 16 and 80 additional hours of education beyond what’s required of the typical REALTOR®.

These are agents who are invested in their careers, in buying and selling real estate and in making sure their clients are satisfied. CRS is the sign of a true real estate professional.

Don’t work with the rest, choose the best. Choose a CRS.

The Benefits of Working with a CRS Agent

  • CRSs receive advanced training above and beyond what is required of typical agents
  • CRSs have proven experience through logged transactions
  • CRSs continuously improve their skills and learn about new regulatory developments
  • CRSs adhere to an ethics code not required of other agents

Where to Scrimp and Where to Splurge During Home Makeovers

During the last year with COVID, many of us have spent a lot of time at home. During this time at home, many of us have been evaluating our homes and planning updates and upgrades to improve our homes and make our homes more pleasing to us. If you find yourself doing this, know that you are not alone. The remodeling market has been busy recently with many homeowners wanting to renovate their homes. As you are planning your renovations, you will be making many decisions. These decisions will affect how much the project costs. What should you splurge on what you scrimp on? Here are some ideas.

When doing a bath remodel spend extra money on the quality toilets, faucets, and other plumbing fixtures and consider all other items as the icing on the cake. By splurging on a toilet for example, you can save money on water over the lifetime of use.

If you are planning a kitchen remodel a good place to save money is on the backsplash. The backsplash is something that can be changed pretty easily and updated in the future for a big impact, so don’t spend a lot. Splurge on the cabinets. They are expensive but can last years and years if you buy quality.

Splurge on structural changes that are made to your home. As a Realtor I have seen the sunroom addition that 10 years later pulling away from the main home and causing major problems. Also, make sure you hire a well qualified, licensed contractor to do any structural changes to your home.

Splurge on real wood floors. I know you may not agree with this, but home buyers do love the real thing and this can be a selling point some day when it comes time to sell your home. Flooring manufactures have come up with some great products, but there is still nothing like real wood floors.

Paint is an item to scrimp on. Even cheap paint can last until the next time you want a room to be a different color. Most of us really cannot tell the difference between expensive paint and the cheap stuff, so here is an area to save money.

In the end, enjoy all of the decisions that home renovations require, but know that you do not need to splurge and buy the most expensive of everything.

How To Get Your Offer Accepted in Northern Colorado’s Hyper-Competitive Real Estate Market

With low interest rates and a shortage in available housing the real estate market in Northern Colorado has seen dramatic increases in competition amongst perspective home buyers. The lower end of the market (for the purposes of this post, anything under $450,000) is especially competitive with most properties recieving multiple offers within the first 2 or 3 days on the market.

This process is difficult, and any homebuyer right now should prepare themselves to write offers on several properties before finally going under contract. However, not all hope is lost. There are a few strategies that you can employ in order to make your offer the most appealing, and this doesn’t always mean offering the most money.

When negotiating in real estate, there are two factors that play into every deal. The first of these is of course money. How much the seller stands to gain, and what the buyer has to pay. For many people this is where it ends, but real estate like life is more complicated then one number. The Colorado real estate contract is 18 pages long and there are many opportunities to create the ideal offer for the seller. When we represent you as a buyer, you can rest assured that the first call we make is to the other agent, to find out what factors are important to the seller so we can write the best offer. As a buyer you need to ask yourself a few questions to find out what you are comfortable with.

Can you provide a rent back to the seller. A conventional loan allows for this for up to 59 days. If you are comfortable with this, are you willing to pay for the entire time or will you need the seller to pay you, so you can pay your mortgage. Remember mortgages are paid in arrears so you will not owe anything until the 2nd month. You could feasibly provide a rent back to the seller for free for the first 30 days.

Can you be flexible with timing. Many sellers have other properties under contract with set closing dates or other timing issues. If you can meet these dates in your own contract and prevent the seller from having to move twice, this may be worth thousands to them allowing them to accept your lower price offer over a badly timed higher price one.

Does the house look nice enough that you are willing to have an inspection for major mechanical components only. If a seller recognizes that you aren’t going to try to Nickle and dime small time repairs from them at time of inspection they may feel more comfortable accepting your offer.

Money is of course important, but you need to ask yourself how much over asking price you are comfortable paying. We can utilize an escalation clause paying $500-1000 over any other offer up to your maximum, so you don’t have to worry about substantially out paying the competition. When writing an offer you also need to decide if you are comfortable bringing extra cash to closing to cover the difference between the appraised value of the property and what you have

These are just a few of the strategies we are currently using to get our clients under contract. All of this can seem overwhelming, contact us today and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have, and help you to workshop the best offer you are capable of performing on.