Think Ahead to Spring

If you are thinking that 2021 is the year to sell and move you need to be thinking ahead.  Spring, as I am sure you have heard, is a hot time for sellers and when the real estate market bursts to life.  2020 was a strong market all year long with interest rates being at near record lows.  Spring 2021 is expected to be a great real estate market for sellers. To have your home ready for market by spring, what should  you be doing to prepare?  It may not take as much time as you might think but it is good to prepare so that you are ready to go when the time comes.

The first step is to contact Lestel.  Have her do research on the market in the price range of your home.  You need to know how long it might take to sell your home.   As a seller you need to think backwards.  If it takes 45 days to sell your home and you want to be in your new home by June 1st. You will need to be putting your home on the market early to mid-April. 

Lestel can also tell you is if there are things that you should be doing to prepare your home for sale.  Should you be replacing the tired carpet, as an example, or does it look just fine given our current sellers’ market in most price ranges.  She will make suggestions that will help you maximize what you are able to sell your home for.  She will not suggest you spend money if you will not get more than the money back for improvements that you do. For example, she does suggest that you replace carpet.  That will cost $5,000.  She will make sure that you get at least $7,000 more for the expense and effort.  It is not worth it if your home would only be worth $5,000 more. Lestel can make some staging suggestions also.  This is not the full staging appointment that she does with you when you are ready to get the house on the market, but instead things that you can start doing to prepare like decluttering or furniture rearranging.

Next step is, by the mid to end of March, it will be important to have Lestel do a market analysis on your home.  The reason for waiting until just before you are ready to put your home on the market is so that you have the most up to date, accurate information on the market. Recent sale prices of homes that are similar to your will guide the pricing of your home. 

Preparing in advance of when you want your home on the market can minimize stress and maximize what you get for your home.  The extra time can make a big difference.

2021 Decorator Trends

If you are like most people you spent more time at home in 2020 than you ever have.  Depending on how you feel about your home that time spent could have added to your joy or taken from it.  You may be feeling like home is ready for a refresh in the new year.  A new year always means new decorator trends are announced.  Here are some 2021 decorator trends you may want to try.

Smart home trends continue to be hot for 2021.  Maybe it is time to try a nest thermostat or a ring door bell.  The trend has more to offer than just those basics.  Smart homes can automatically control lighting and smart appliances are expected to grow in popularity too. 

Rattan and wicker furniture is making a comeback.  They bring a beach vacation vibe to your home.  The materials blend well with existing decors which may also explain their popularity.

Light woods have come back.  If you have some of the dark wood floors that were popular several years ago, you understand why that trend faded so quickly.  The dark floors showed scratches and dust.  New lighter colored wood floors are more forgiving, neutral and go with everything.  White oak and maple are taking the lead. 

Curved shapes are in.  That means everything from round rugs, to round mirror and round bathroom sinks.  Curves respond to our need  for softness. 

Plantscapes are in and a new passion for many.  That is everything from hanging plants to terrariums.  Plants add a feeling of warmth to our spaces and as a bonus they clean the air in our home.  There are plenty of plants that are easy to grow if you have a brown thumb.

There are other decorator trends that are on the horizon.  They include:

  • Black Kitchens
  • Dark Bathrooms
  • Kitchen Cabinets Without Hardware
  • Large Format Porcelain Tiles
  • Painted Floors
  • Strict Minimalism
  • Colored Ceilings
  • Large Wall Murals

Some of these new trends may not seem so new at all.  The funny thing about decorator trends just like fashion they seem to circle back around.  You can decide what, if any of the new trends you would like to include in your home.  Here’s to 2021.  Enjoy your home!

So, You’ve Decided to Buy Your First Home

Congratulations!  You have decided to buy your first home.  That means you need to get connected to a great Realtor.  It is important that you get to know your agent and your agent gets to know you.  That means you should have a sit down meeting with the agent you are considering working with. Expect to be asked a lot of questions.  Like what you say? Here is an example of some questions that you might be ask.

  • Why do you want to buy know?
  • Are you working with a lender?
  • How many houses have you looked at?  What did you like and not like?
  • What would you do if we found the perfect house tomorrow?
  • What is your favorite room of your house?
  • How important is outdoor space?
  • Who will we be shopping for?  Do you have pets to consider?
  • How long do you think that you will live in this home?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?

When your agent gets the answers to these questions or questions like them, your agent will start to get a feel for you and what you feel is important.  This will help your agent find the home that is right for you.  Of course your agent will also be interested in the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and if you need a garage.  The more information you share with your agent the better. 

It is helpful for your agent to know what you love about where you live now.  If you hate everything about it, tell your agent that too! 

Now you are ready for the hunt for the perfect home for you.  Enjoy it!

I Want To Buy A Home, Where Do I Start?

If you are interested in beginning your home search, but you are either a first time home buyer, or someone who hasn’t bought a home in a while we want to shed some light on first steps and provide you with insight into the process. The very first step is to find a lender to work with. We have a couple of recommendations here.

Once you select a lender you will likely begin by filling out a loan application in order for your lender to be better able to understand your financial situation. You will answer a number of personal financial questions. The process might feel a little uncomfortable, but rest assured it is confidential and will stay between you and your lender. When complete your lender will be able to tell you how much you can spend on a home. It is always up to you to choose to spend less, but you cannot spend more.  This is because this number is tied to your debt to income ratio. This is the amount you earn vs the amount you owe on other liabilities like car payments.

Your lender might also need to do some credit repair in order to boost your credit score. They can tell you exactly which things should be paid off in which order and which accounts you might be better off closing for good. Once you begin this process do not buy a car, or close accounts without first discussing it with your home lender. This can completely derail the process and set you back to square one. For more information on what not to do, see our blog post 6 Don’ts When Applying for a Mortgage.

As soon as you have your number from your lender they can provide you with a lender letter that is required with any offer you submit. This letter acts as the proof that you can afford the home you want to buy. When you have this letter in hand you and your real estate agent, ideally us, can begin to look at homes and figure out what specifically you want and need. We can narrow it down together until we find the home you want to buy, and that is how you begin the home buying process.

Are We Headed Towards a Foreclosure Crisis? Probably Not.

If you have spent much time reading the news you likely know that the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has resulted in a massive loss of jobs, income, and stability for many Americans. You may also have read some opinions that the hardships people are going through will ultimately result in the foreclosure of a massive number of properties, the likes of which has not been seen since the recession of 2008.

However, the conditions that preceded that crisis are not the same as those we see today. Many Americans at that time participated in cash out refinances of their homes leveraging their homes value against the market. This left many of them high and dry when they ended up owing more on their homes than they were worth.

Today the market has far outpaced that of 2008 and homeowner levels of equity are in abundance. These homeowners would not be upside down in their mortgage in the same manner as those in 2008, which means that rather than face foreclosure they can sell their homes and pocket this equity at the close of sale. This also doesn’t take into account the fact that due to the pandemic the federal government has mandated forbearance on mortgages should homeowners choose to participate. 91% of the homeowners in forbearance have 11% equity in their homes. One can visualize this slice of the mortgage pie as the worst-case scenario, and they still have enough equity to walk away without facing foreclosure.

At the end of this there will still be those who will be foreclosed on, but the economic conditions that led to the mortgage crisis in 2008 are not the same as we see today. The economy should bounce back once COVID is a thing of the past, and jobs should return too. There is seemingly no real estate bubble, and real estate presents one of the more secure investment options outpacing bonds, notes and stocks which have proven extremely volatile throughout the pandemic. 

How We Have Adapted Our Business to better assist you during Current Events

While the global pandemic continues so does our work. The real estate market in Colorado has not stopped and neither have we. In Colorado Real Estate Agents, Title Companies, and Real Estate Appraisers have all been classified as “essential services” in order for the real estate market to continue functioning as normal as possible.

We recognize that for some of our clients buying or selling a home simply can’t wait until after the pandemic has ended. To address concerns over the spread of COVID-19 we are working with all of our clients a little differently. For our sellers we are currently offering a 3D tour of your home included in your home marketing. If you are not familiar with this process an example can be viewed here. We are also happy to offer Current Market Analysis’ to any of our clients to understand how your properties current value looks in the current market. For our sellers the limited inventory on the market can be a huge benefit to the marketing of your home if now is the time you need to sell.

For our buyers we are offering online home shopping meetings that can be held over the Zoom video conferencing service that we are sure that everyone is becoming very familiar with as this crisis continues. While in person showings are not currently possible we have the ability to write a sight unseen offer that allows you to place a home under contract and then view prior to inspection to verify that it meets your needs. This means that you might be able to go under contract if you are 99% sure that you love the house just based on what you can see without setting foot inside the home. This is beneficial if you are a member of an at risk group or at all concerned about having a showing during the normal marketing period as your viewing of the property in person can be put off until later in the process. As a buyer you have a unique opportunity right now as mortgage rates are still at multi-decade lows.

Local Industry and its Effect on the Real Estate Market

One of the things that makes Fort Collins and Northern Colorado a great place to live is our economic diversity. We aren’t propped up by one major industry, instead we are a melting pot of large industry, small business, and of course Colorado State University. When it comes to real estate it also means that our home values are very stable compared to other parts of the nation. Oil and Gas production is one part of the economic picture in Northern Colorado, yet when oil prices fluctuate we aren’t likely to see a corresponding fluctuation in the real estate market. The same goes for the technology and manufacturing sectors. Even when we have major players like HP Broadcom and Intel in town we also have quite a few small tech companies like Madwire, or even Otterbox. Even during a global pandemic when many are facing layoffs housing prices in Northern Colorado continue to climb. We are clearly still a place where people want to live, and may even be the target area of those looking to move out of the big cities and into smaller communities. The outlook for Fort Collins and Northern Colorado is a bright one. As we continue to grow we also continue to attract top talent and top companies to our community. The installation of high speed fiber optic internet by the City of Fort Collins will surely contribute to  continued growth of professionals relocating to town. This is especially likely as workforces transition to “work from home” employment models for the long term.

Home Décor items that will always be in style

Timelessness can be hard to find when decorating a home.  Home décor trends come and go. You can count on there being a hew “IN” thing next year what everyone is doing in their home.  Changing with the trends can be expensive and exhausting. 

Here are some décor items that will stand the test of time.  Some of these may surprise you. 

  • Hardwood floors.  You can be rest assured if you invest in really high quality hardwood floors they could stay in your home for a long, long, long time.
  • House plants. I know it seems odd to consider a house plan a décor item but they can certainly add warmth to a home and also help your home air quality improve.
  • Art.  Art can be a great long term investment.  Find a local artist that you like and make an investment in a piece that you love.  One that touches you.  That piece can bring you joy for a long time.
  • Throw pillows.  Now this is something that you can go over board with.  So watch how many but have some fun and decorate for the season or mix and match colors and textures. 
  • Real wood furniture. I know it is easy to just run to Target or Ikea and grab something because you need it, whether that need be an end table or a night stand.  But how about getting a piece or real wood furniture that will last and you can enjoy and move with you without it falling apart. 
  • Fireplace.  It is strange to call and fireplace décor but it can add so much ambiance to a room. They are an investment that will give you a great  return and they are enjoyable too.
  • Mirrors.  Yes, they are great to check and see how you look, but they are also timeless décor pieces. They can help a small area look much bigger.
  • Luxurious throw blankets.  We all love to cozy up on the couch under a warm, cozy blanket.  Don’t just run to Walmart and pick one up for $5.00.  Invest a bit more and get one that is really luxurious.  It will stand the test of time. 
  • Detailed pieces of furniture like console tables, night stands and ottomans.  These pieces help a room feel complete and take a rooms décor from bland to wow.
  • Family heirlooms and personal items that bring you joy. 

Decorating your home does not need to be complicated and trending.  Invest in a few good pieces and enjoy!

One of the most asked questions in Real Estate…

The question that I get asked the most is, “how is the market”.  When there are things happening in the world, country and our area I hear that question even more.  People want to know if their investment is being negatively affected. Going through a global pandemic has folks asking that question even more.  In a word, the market is GREAT.

Median year to date home prices in Northern Colorado, through July 2020.

We are on track to see nice appreciation in the median price of properties in Northern Colorado this year.  Days on the market has increased this year, but list to sales price remains strong at over 99%.  It is a great time to own a home in Northern Colorado. Remember if you have questions about the market, just call, text or email me.  I am here to answer your questions.               

How Northern Colorado Towns Got Their Names

Have you ever wondered how Northern Colorado towns got their names? Keep
reading and you will find out.

How did Fort Collins get its name?

Fort Collins ColoradoFort Collins owes its name to a man by the name of Lieutenant Colonel William O. Collins. Collins was a naive of Ohio who came to Colorado when his cavalry was sent to the Overland Trail area in approximately 1862. He was the commander of the cavalry and set up a fort near the present day LaPorte. The fort became known as Camp Collins. In 1864 after many problems such as starvation and altercations with the Native Americans the camp was moved to where Fort Collins is today. In 1867 the military camp dissipated and Collins went home to Ohio. But many settlers began calling the area Fort Collins. It was established as a town in 1873.

So…how did Loveland get its name?

Loveland Sculpture ParkLoveland was named after another William. William Austin Hamilton Loveland was President of the railroad company Colorado Central. As was common in 1877 William Loveland was responsible for reaching agreements with land owners for the railroad to continue to be built across land. David Barnes gave permission for the railroad to continue through his wheat field. Barnes soon after decided that he would build a town around the railroad. Barnes and Loveland became friends. Barnes decided to name the town Loveland. Loveland did not settle in the town named after him, he went on to live in Golden, later moved to Denver where he lived until his death.

How about how Windsor was named?

American Widgeon Duck Fort Collins

Mr J.L. Hilton built a ranch on the land where the town of Windsor is today. On the ranch Hilton had an Inn for travelers. The travelers like to stay at the Inn because it was midway between Fort Collins and Greeley. That is a distance that is easily traveled today, but not in the 1800’s. Travelers started calling the place the “half way house.” That is certainly not a good name for a town. It was officially named Windsor in 1890. It was named after the Rev. Samuel Asa Windsor, a pastor that would occasionally conduct services in the town.