How Will COVID-19 Impact the Housing Market?

Throughout this crisis, you most likely have a lot of questions about how COVID-19 is impacting the housing market. We want to make sure to provide you with the most information that we can so you can know what to expect when buying or selling your home.

How Is the Economy Going to Be Impacted by COVID-19?

During the past few weeks, the federal government has enforced that non-essential businesses either move to work remotely or shut down completely. Throughout this past quarter, there was a large growth in the economy in January and February. Towards the end of this quarter, things decided to slow down because of businesses closing. In the next quarter, the economy is expected to contract. In order for the economy to still grow and sustain, congress needs to approve a fiscal stimulus. This includes giving loans to small businesses in order to function throughout this period of closures.

How Will the Economy Recover From COVID-19?

The economy will eventually recover from a potential recession. The question is whether or not the recovery will be on a “V” shaped recovery or a “U” shaped recovery. A “V” shaped recovery means that the economy goes down quickly then it recovers quickly. A “U” shaped recovery means that the economy goes down, languishes down for a while then slowly recovers. According to Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner, the second half of this year will be significantly better than the first half.

How Does COVID-19 Affect Housing?

Home sellers are becoming increasingly cautious about listing their homes, meaning that the amount of listings is likely to decrease the remainder of this quarter and even into the next. They want to make sure that proper precautions are taking place before strangers enter their home. However, this doesn’t mean that every market nationwide will be as greatly impacted by COVID-19 as others. On the other hand, homebuyers have a different perspective than home sellers. They want to take advantage of the low mortgage rates. Those with sturdy jobs throughout this time are more likely to move than those who are still at risk of being laid off. People who have to take money out of the stock market to purchase a home are also less likely to purchase a home at this point as well. There will likely be a 10-15% contraction in home sales across the market.

Will Interest Rates Be Affected?

While interest rates did drop significantly a few weeks ago, they actually increased this past week. Many people were refinancing their homes, causing these interest rates to suddenly increase. It is still very likely that interest rates will drop again in the coming weeks.

What Will the Next Several Weeks Look Like?

The weeks and months to come are expected to be very difficult; however, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Different markets will be affected in different ways, but many of them are only going to experience short term problems. Casinos and resorts are likely to take a larger hit because people will not be able to visit them. The second housing market will also likely take a hit because those are discretionary purchases. Our best advice is to continue to support small businesses if you have the means by buying gift cards and ordering out in order to support the industries affected.

This is an uncertain time for everyone in the world, but the best thing you can do is educate yourself. Understand where the economy stands and where it is expected to go, so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.


Posted on May 27, 2020 at 6:07 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Investing | Tagged , , , , ,

5 Small Things You Can Do to Improve Your Home Office

Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, many of us now find ourselves working from home. While it’s hard to complain about the commute, working from home can be an adjustment. For example, you may find yourself doing tasks around the house and suddenly you’ve missed several important emails. If you feel like you need some help being more productive while working from home, here are five tips to improve your workflow.

Add Light

The best kind of light is natural light. Try setting up your workspace by a window. If that’s not possible, add a desk lamp or floor lamp to brighten your space. Not only will it help with visibility; it brightens your mood, which helps you to be more productive.

Declutter

Remove distracting clutter. Take everything off your desk that you don’t need. Store it elsewhere or use shelves on your wall to display it.

If you find yourself cleaning throughout the day, set aside time specifically for these tasks. If you’re still waking up at the same time you did when working at the office—which studies show is a great strategy when working from home—using your would-be commute time to tidy up helps avoid those periodic distractions.

Bring the Outdoors In

Bringing plants into your home is beneficial for productivity and health alike. Greenery is a natural mood booster and gives life to a room. Plants naturally purify the air, helping you breathe easy as you make your way through the workday. Try arranging both hanging and potted plants to improve the mood around your workspace.

Change Your Chair 

A chair that’s too tall, too short, or not comfortable is a fast track to back and shoulder problems that inhibit your workday and linger afterwards. Being in a stationary position for hours at a time requires the right kind of support to stay productive. Features to look for in a quality office chair include proper lumbar support, sturdy wheels, and an adjustable base that allows your shoulders to relax and your feet to rest flat on the floor.

Add Decor

It’s important to keep your home office professional and dedicated to your work. However, adding personal touches to the space will help you feel at ease. Position your work computer and phone front and center with any related work tools close by and handy. Adding pictures of loved ones, artwork, and inspirational quotes will help inspire you to generate ideas while working productively.


Posted on May 12, 2020 at 2:11 am
Kelly Swift | Posted in Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Four Holiday Décor Trends to Inspire You This Season

The holiday season is here and for many of us, that means it’s time to deck the halls. If you’re looking for some inspiration and a place to start, here are some ideas that are certain to get everyone in the spirit. 

 

A Tree of a Different Color

For many, there’s nothing more quintessential during the holidays than a Christmas tree decked out in ornaments. But acquiring a tree can be challenging and expensive. Moreover, housing a tree consumes time and space. That’s why we love the idea of an alternative tree. There are plenty of options you can buy online or create yourself using things you probably already have around the house. And if you miss the smell of a real tree, try a scented candle or essential oils.

The Season of Lights

There’s something perpetually charming about twinkling lights. Whether you’re wrapping them around your front porch or adorning your fireplace mantle, extra lights deliver a warm glow during the holiday season. Getting creative and adding light to otherwise unexpected places, including bookcases, around headboards, or even in glassware, is a great way to keep everything looking merry and bright.

Act Natural

Not all holiday climates are built alike. If you’re expecting a white Christmas, you’re probably used to pine trees and winter brush, but for those of you located in regions where the mercury doesn’t drop, sprinkling in natural elements can transform your home into a wintery oasis. Holly and pine needles add a traditional touch, or consider a wreath of olive branches with some sleigh bells interspersed.

Bring it All Home at Dinner

When decorating for the holidays, don’t forget the table! A sprig of holly adds a festive touch to your place settings. And instead of the traditional centerpiece, try placing candles in glass vases or mason jars to give your tablescape that added touch of holiday pizzazz.


Posted on December 9, 2019 at 10:10 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Homeowners, Housing Trends | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Remodel for the Most Resale Value

What’s the best remodeling project for your home? The answer, in part, depends on where you live. Every year, Remodeling Magazine evaluates which projects bring the most return at resale in different markets around the country in their “Cost vs. Value” report.  For the purposes of this blog, we are focusing on the Pacific states (WA, OR, CA, AL) and the Mountain states (MT, ID, UT, CO, NV).

According to Remodeling Magazine, these are the six top projects in those two regions that currently have the best return on your investment when it comes time to sell. To see the full report, click here.

Garage Door Replacement

The project with the most return from Washington State to Nevada? A new garage door.

In the Pacific States, replacing your garage door will cost an average $3,785, but will increase your resale value by $4,686, recouping 123.8 percent of what you paid for it. Homes in the Mountain States will also benefit from a garage door replacement, recouping 98.6 percent of their costs.

Due to its size, a garage door can have a big impact on a home’s curb appeal.  But adding to your home’s aesthetic is only one advantage; the warranty that comes with the new garage door is also a selling point for potential buyers who can trust that they likely won’t have to deal with any maintenance issues in the near term.

Manufactured Stone Veneer

As long as the new stone veneer is consistent with your neighborhood’s overall look, this siding is the second-best project across the Pacific and Mountain states.

Stone veneer can replace your home’s existing siding, adding a fresh, modern look that conjures a cozy vibe all the way from the street, before buyers ever step foot inside. Along the West Coast, it can recoup 110.4 percent of the cost when you sell, and Mountain states will recoup 96.5 percent of the cost.

Wood Deck Addition

While building a deck might seem like a big undertaking, it’s actually a pretty cost-effective way to positively impact your home’s resale value. Pacific states can expect to pay around $15,000 and Mountain states just above $13,000, but they’ll see 87.8 percent and 74.3 percent recouped respectively when they sell.

Adding a deck extends the living space of your home and provides even more area for entertaining, relaxing, and enjoying the outdoors.  Whether you choose a natural wood deck or a low-maintenance composite deck, you can pick from a variety of styles based on the lay of your land and the areas of your backyard you wish to highlight.

Minor Kitchen Remodel

No need to move walls or appliances around, a minor kitchen remodel will do the trick to recoup 87.1 percent of the cost in the Pacific states, and 80.3 percent in the Mountain states.

An outdated kitchen can go from drab to fab and become a focal point with a fresh palette. Replace the cabinet doors with new shaker-style wood panels and metal or metal-looking hardware. Switch out the old counter tops with laminate that matches the new look. Think about adding a resilient flooring option, then finish the project with a fresh coat of paint to the walls, trim, and ceiling.

Grand Entrance

Looking to improve your curb appeal and create an entrance that guests and homebuyers won’t soon forget? Add a fiberglass grand entrance. This project involves replacing a standard-sized front door with a larger opening with dual sidelights (glass panels). Typically costing around $8,000, Pacific states will see 85.1 percent of that recouped in the sale, and Mountain states will see 71 percent.

Siding Replacement

Depending on the size of your home, replacing the siding can be an expensive undertaking. However, it’s a project that comes with high returns. For Mountain states, sellers can expect 75.4 percent of the costs recouped, and Pacific sellers will see 84.3 percent.

Not only is siding one of the first things a buyer sees, but it also serves as an indicator of the overall health of the home. Broken or damaged siding could mean that there are other problems with the home, such as pests and rot. Replacing old siding is a cost-effective way to boost your home’s curb appeal and ensure buyers are going to walk through your front door.


Posted on December 7, 2019 at 4:37 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Homeowners | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Grateful For

Here’s something to be grateful for…

Colorado’s healthy real estate market!

The research continues to show that there is no better place to own real estate over the long term than right here in our own backyard.

The Federal Housing Finance Authority tracks real estate prices in close to 300 markets across the Country. We frequently use their Home Price Index as a trusted source to study the market.

According to their data, Colorado ranks as the #1 state for home price appreciation over the long term, better than any other place.

We are thankful for that!


Posted on December 2, 2019 at 6:47 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Colorado Economy | Tagged , , ,

Why You Should Buy a Home at the End of the Year

If you have ever thought about owning a new home, the last two months of the year are usually the best time to make that happen.

Here’s Why…

Many builders have year-end goals and sales quotas to hit. If they have a “standing inventory” of homes that are completed but not sold, they are typically motivated to sell these homes by the end of the year.

This dynamic can be especially true for publicly-traded builders who are even more motivated to hit year-end sales numbers.

Up and down the Front Range there are beautiful new homes in fantastic neighborhoods. The builders of these homes may be happy to make concessions and provide incentives as long as you close by year-end.

We just recently helped a buyer with a very compelling incentive package from a builder which included a lower price, additional landscaping and window coverings.


Posted on November 27, 2019 at 8:41 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , , , , ,

So you bought an investment property, now what?

Investing in a home is a great way to build passive income but earning from your investment will take a little groundwork to become a well-oiled machine. This is your beginner’s guide to owning an investment property so you can set up that foundation properly to avoid future headaches.

Make sure it’s livable

It’s important to start with your home inspection before you start making plans. Use the inspection report to prioritize the maintenance issues.

Before a tenant moves in, make sure the home is livable. Handle the important items that affect the livability of the property, either now or in the near future. If the inspector noticed a leak in the roof or holes that could lead to infestation, take care of those first. Other maintenance issues to prioritize are the fuel and the hot water source.

If your city has inspection and registration requirements, be sure to cross check those inspection checklists with your current property. If the property wouldn’t pass now, make sure it will pass by the time the city sees it.

Upgrade the space

Once your property is in livable condition, it’s time to upgrade. If you have any left-over budget after the necessities are handled, consider adding a bedroom or a bathroom where you can find the space. These rooms heavily impact the rental price, and the more you have the higher the price. If there’s no space for another bed or bath, think about finishing the basement or upgrading some of the appliances to make the property more attractive to potential tenants.

Use similar properties in your neighborhood as your inspiration. These units are your competition, think about what you can add, or even take away, that would help you compete. Ask yourself what about your home is unique and in what ways does that affect your rentability? If every unit in your area has hardwoods, how can you make your carpeted home appealing? Maybe new carpet? Or is switching to hardwoods, or vinyl laminate that looks like wood, worth it?

Market it to future tenants

You need two things in your listing: 1) Great Photos 2) An Amazing Description

After you’ve perfected the property, it’s time to tell potential tenants that it’s available. Creating the listing is essential in drawing eyes on the unit so you can show it to as many people as possible.

Renters looking to move are quick to make their first impression of a property with thumbnail photos on a map. So, take lots of great, bright, photos of the entire place to showcase the amenities and show potential tenants what it looks like, then choose the best photo to be the first in the lineup. Remember to get the lighting is just right to show every corner of the listing. Dark photos scare tenants away, making them think the unit is dingy and dirty. Light and bright photos show a clean home that’s move-in ready. They can imagine themselves living there a lot easier than in dark and cramped looking units.

Next, they’ll read the description. This is again where other listings in your area can help you.

Read other listings to structure your description and to draw inspiration on what tenants might think is important. Find the selling points and emphasize those above the unique features, especially if those unique features are obvious in the photos.


Posted on November 22, 2019 at 1:00 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Investment Properties | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Two Tales

This is a Tale of Two Counties.

When it comes to new home activity, there is a big difference between Larimer and Weld Counties.

Larimer County’s new home starts are down 10% and new home closings are down 15% compared to last year.

Weld County’s new home starts are up 18% and new home closings are up 8% compared to last year.

This is all according to the new home research experts and Metrostudy.

So why the difference?  It comes down to price and availability.

There is more land available for new home development in Weld County.

Plus, the land tends to be less-expensive than Larimer which means that builders can deliver a lower-priced product and reach a larger pool of buyers.

The average price of a new home in Larimer County is $507,105 while the average new home price in Weld is $411,269.


Posted on November 18, 2019 at 9:06 pm
Kelly Swift | Posted in Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , , , ,

The Beginner’s Guide to Home Appraisals

Appraisals are used as a reliable, independent valuation of a tract of land and the structure on it, whether it’s a house or a skyscraper. Designed to protect buyers, sellers, and lending institutions, appraisals are an important part of the buying/selling process.

Below, you will find information about the appraisal process, what goes into them, their benefits and some tips on how to help make an appraisal go smoothly and efficiently.

 

Appraisal value vs. market value

The appraiser’s value is determined by using a combination of factors such as comparative market analyses and their inspection of the property to determine if the listing price is typical for the area.

Market value, on the other hand, is what a buyer is willing to pay for a home or what homes of comparable value are selling for.

If you are in the process of setting the price of your home, you can gain some peace-of-mind by consulting an independent appraiser. Show them comparative values for your neighborhood, relevant documents, and give them a tour of your home, just as you would show it to a prospective buyer.

 

What information goes into an appraisal?

Professional appraisers consult a range of information sources, including multiple listing services, county tax assessor records, county courthouse records, and appraisal data records, in addition to talking to local real estate professionals.

They also conduct an inspection. Typically, an appraiser’s inspection focuses on:

  • The condition of the property and home, inside and out.
  • The home’s layout and features.
  • Home updates.
  • Overall quality of construction.
  • Estimate of the home’s square footage (the gross living area “GLA”; garages and unfinished basements are estimated separately).
  • Permanent fixtures (for example, in-ground pools, as opposed to above-ground pools).

After the inspection, the appraiser of a typical single-family home will create their report including their professional opinion on what the price of the home should be.

You might hear the lender ask for two reports, the “Sales Comparison Approach” and the “Cost Approach.” These two approaches use different methodologies to find the appropriate value of the home, and help the lender confirm the home’s price.

 

Who pays and how long does it take?

The buyer usually pays for the appraisal unless they have negotiated otherwise. Depending on the lender, the appraisal may be paid in advance or incorporated into the application fee; some are due on delivery and some are billed at closing. Typical costs range from $275-$600, but this can vary from region to region.

An inspection usually takes anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours, depending on the size and complexity of your property. In addition, the appraiser spends time pulling up county records for the values of the houses around you. A full report is sent to your loan officer, real estate agent, and/or lender in about a week.

If you are the seller, you won’t get a copy of an appraisal ordered by a buyer. Under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, however, the buyer has the right to get a copy of the appraisal if they request it. Typically, the requested appraisal is provided at closing.

 

What if the appraisal is too low?

A low appraisal can present a problem when there’s a large difference between what you’ve agreed to pay and the appraisal price.

Usually, the seller’s agents and the buyer’s agent will respond by looking for recent sold and pending listings of comparable homes. Sometimes this can influence the appraisal. If the final appraisal is well below what you have agreed to pay, you can re-negotiate the contract or cancel it.

 

Where do you find a qualified appraiser?

Your bank or lending institution will find and hire an appraiser; Federal regulatory guidelines do not allow borrowers to order and provide an appraisal to a bank for lending purposes. If you want an appraisal for your own personal reasons and not to secure a mortgage or buy a homeowner’s insurance policy, you can do the hiring yourself. You can contact your lending institution and they can recommend qualified appraisers and you can choose one yourself or you can call your local Windermere Real Estate agent and they can make a recommendation for you. Once you have the name of some appraisers you can verify their status on the Federal Appraisal Subcommittee website.

 

Tips for hassle-free appraisals:

To ensure the appraisal process is smooth and efficient, provide your appraiser with the information and documents he or she needs to get the job done. The documents you will need include:

  • A brief explanation of why you’re getting an appraisal
  • The date you’d like your appraisal to be completed
  • A copy of your deed, survey, purchase agreement, or other papers that pertain to the property
  • A sketch of the property with the property’s dimensions. These are usually available online from the county assessors.
  • If you have a mortgage, provide the information about your lender, the year you got your mortgage, the amount, the type of mortgage (FHA, VA, etc.), your interest rate, and any additional financing you have.
  • A copy of your current real estate tax bill, statement of special assessments, balance owing and on what (for example, sewer, water)
  • Tell your appraiser if your property is listed for sale and if so, your asking price and listing agency.
  • If it’s a multiple offer situation, provide the appraiser with the other offers to prove the demand for the home.
  • Any personal property that is included in the sale, like appliances and other fixtures.
  • If you’re selling an income-producing property, a breakdown of income and expenses for the last year or two and a copy of leases.
  • A copy of the original house plans and specifications.
  • A list of recent improvements and their costs.
  • Any other information you feel may be relevant.

By doing your homework, compiling the information your appraiser needs, and providing it at the beginning of the process, you can minimize unnecessary delays.


Posted on November 6, 2019 at 8:00 am
Kelly Swift | Posted in Buyers, Buying & Selling, Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Designing Your Rental To Feel Like Home

Stylizing your own home can be a daunting but rewarding challenge. When you own your living space, it’s easy to feel a sense of ownership over every piece of your design. But for renters, the challenge is a bit different. Despite limitations, it’s no less important to one’s well-being for a residence to convey a sense of ownership and self. To make a rental unit feel a bit more like home, we collected a few ways to imbue your abode with your own spirit, without risking your security deposit.

Storage – Let’s be honest, rentals often lack sufficient storage place, and since custom cabinetry isn’t usually an option for renters, investing in some added storage is key.

Add some simple, no-to-low damage shelves, bookshelves that stand on their own, baskets, or use under the bed storage. Search for furniture that doubles as storage, like an ottoman that opens up or a side table with a drawer or shelf.

Blinds – Vertical blinds may be the ultimate decorating sin. No one likes feeling as if they’re living in a motel room.

We suggest you either take them down and save them somewhere so you remember to put them back when you leave. Another option is to hide them under curtains. Just don’t throw them out or you may not get all of your security deposit back!

Before making changes like this, or adding hardware like curtain rods, be sure to ask your landlord for permission.

Accessorize – A MUST when decorating your space are small items like pillows, throws, candles, books, and light fixtures… the only way to get a truly genuine space. These are easy ways to add your unique style that you can take with you from one place to the next.

Wall Art – Hanging art with hooks and nails can damage the walls, which might keep you from hanging art or photos on your walls, but when it comes down to it at move out, they’ll only take a few minutes to patch up when it comes time to move out. This doesn’t mean you have to hang an entire art gallery, but hanging one statement piece and placing the rest of the photos on a mantel or shelf can be all you need.

Again, ask your landlord before you add any holes in the home. When you’re touring, ask the landlord to keep the existing holes in the walls so you can use them, or ask if you can get the paint color information so you can patch and touch-up yourself, upon move-out.

Rugs – Last but not least, rugs: the peanut butter to your rental jelly. If there are scratched hardwood floors or stained carpets, you can cover those up easily with a throw rug, and prevent further damage as you live there.

Additionally, a rug is a great investment piece that will add your personal flavor to any space, plus they absorb noise and make a room feel comfy.

Do you have any great tips to decorating a rental? Let me know in the comments!


Posted on November 4, 2019 at 8:00 am
Kelly Swift | Posted in Investment Properties | Tagged , , , , ,