How to Buy a Home - Step Six: Make an Offer
If you didn’t catch our last blog post on how to house hunt in a hot market, you can get caught up here. In today’s blog, we take a look at the sixth step to purchasing a home: how to make an offer on a home. The day has finally come: you’ve found a house that feels right and are ready to claim your stake and submit an offer. But where do you begin? And how can you compete when there are so many other buyers? The pandemic has created an insatiable demand for home ownership. With both interest rates and housing inventory hitting rock-bottom lows, the average price for a single-family home is now valued higher than ever before. House prices have skyrocketed over 15% across the nation in just the past year, creating the perfect storm for a multiple offer frenzy. Buyers are pulling out all the stops in 2021, letting sellers know why they should be named the chosen one. From cash offers to season Broncos tickets, no consideration is too creative or crazy in this hypercompetitive market and the highest price isn’t always the best offer. How do you know if you are prepared to submit an offer? Here’s a quick list of what you should complete prior to submitting an offer: Reviewed comparable sales so you are familiar with the local housing marketYou or your real estate agent have asked the right investigative questions to the seller’s agent to uncover the seller’s true motivation for sellingYou have done research on the listing and the seller; you know if other offers have been made and why they didn’t cross the finish lineYou are prepared to show them the money; you have a Cash Approval or mortgage pre-approval letter dated within last 30 days to submit as part of your offer packageYou have researched inspectors and have a short list you can call to do a an inspection that same week in case your offer is accepted Step into the Seller’s Shoes In a seller’s market, a winning offer is one that can get ahead of a seller’s hopes and fears. Your offer should demonstrate you are a serious and motivated buyer, whose deal is unlikely to fall through and will close smoothly and quickly. In a balanced market, finding out the owner's reasons for selling can be a tricky game of cat and mouse. One of the upsides of a seller’s market is that sellers have so many options that they will often cut to the chase upfront and tell you or your agent their bottom line. What are the weakest parts of an offer? They are the same things that keep a seller up at night after they signed the contract. Let’s take a look at how you can strengthen your offer so it is more appealing to a seller. Focus on the 3 big rocks of an offer: Money, Conditions and Timing Big Rock #1: Money Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) An earnest money deposit, often referred to as EMD, is the amount you pay after the seller accepts your offer. This is a “good faith” gesture demonstrating you are committed to the deal. This is your cash you are willing to put “on the line” and stand to lose if you back out without a reason that was outlined in the offer. Make sure your agent explains to you how and when your EMD will become non-refundable as different contingencies in the offer are satisfied such as inspection, appraisal and financing. Price Feeling overwhelmed about what price to offer? In a seller’s market this fierce, the rules on price and negotiation are exponentially different than in a buyer’s market. With sellers often receiving as many as forty offers the first day a home is listed, your realtor might advise you to submit your highest and best price from the start. This will send a clear message that you are serious, rather than attempting to low-ball the price. Pro-Tip: If the seller is asking a price that equates with a mortgage you were approved for, but the monthly payment tied to that mortgage amount starts making your stomach queasy, it’s probably a sign you need to offer less or look at other homes that are priced lower. Knowing and sticking to the monthly housing payment you originally planned for can reduce a lot of unnecessary stress and simplify the offer process. Big Rock #2 Conditions of the sale- Contingencies Contingencies are clauses that establish minimum terms and conditions that must be met for the sale to go through. Contingencies can give you a way to back out of the deal, and get your earnest money back, so it should come as no surprise that sellers prefer buyers with fewer contingencies. Here are the top 3 contingencies that give buyers an exit strategy: Inspection- A home can look great on the outside but reveal expensive and time- consuming work once a trained inspector gets inside to examine it. The inspection contingency gives you the right to conduct a professional home inspection with a licensed inspector. The inspector will evaluate and provide you with a report on the condition and safety of the home at that point in time, plus feedback on any suggested repairs that need to be made. If that report reveals serious issues, you can reconsider your offer or terminate. Pro-Tip: Limiting the period of time to submit inspection objections can show the seller you are serious about your offer and not playing games. Appraisal-If you’re getting a mortgage, your lender will not loan you more money than the home is worth. An appraisal provides you and your lender with the fair market value of a home before the mortgage closes. Lenders will refuse to provide a loan that is greater than the appraisal value, and if you do not have the cash to cover a possible gap between the appraisal value and your offer amount (or feel comfortable paying for the gap), this is another opportunity for you to renegotiate or back out. Financing- Also known as a mortgage contingency, this condition is essential if you are getting a traditional mortgage which is not backed by a Cash Approval. In a multiple offer situation, sellers will typically rule out a potential buyer with anything less than solid financing approval in place. The financing contingency says that if your loan does not receive full underwritten approval by the end of the transaction, you can back out of the deal without losing your deposit. Pro-Tip: Get Cash Approved™ and remove the financing and appraisal contingencies from your offer. Big Rock #3 Timing Your offer will have a proposed closing timeline, which includes the inspection period. Once a seller accepts an offer, that day of acceptance becomes the effective date of the contract and that’s when the transaction’s clock starts ticking. Wes Stewart, Broker Owner of Mile High Luxury, says one of the most effective strategies to make an offer attractive is to prioritize the seller’s timing. “Buyers should be thoughtful when proposing dates and deadlines, such as the projected closing date, title work or other due diligence,” says Stewart. “Sellers hate having staggered dates. A strong offer will align those dates-so multiple deadlines are completed and crossed off the same day. That’s going to be very appealing to the seller.” Keep a cool head, stick to your limits and trust your realtor’s counsel If a seller’s market is leaving you with limited choices, it can become easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment when you finally find a home you like. “The offer stage is not the appropriate time to become emotionally attached,” says Stewart. “If you love a house, you need to realize there are twenty other buyers out there who probably feel the same way and are also going to write an offer.” Crafting a winning offer is an art, and in today’s red-hot market, can feel like rocket science. But just like all the steps presented in this homebuyer’s blog, preparing beforehand is key to a smooth experience. If you have done your offer homework on the purchase agreement, the house and the seller, you will feel a lot more confident going into a bidding war. Stick to your limits while remaining open and optimistic. Remember: an offer is your one opportunity to start a direct conversation with the seller. Take a moment to reflect on what will make your offer the most compelling in this interaction.. And if you would like to learn more about how an Accept.inc Cash Offer can remove finance and appraisal contingencies to make your offer stand out from the pack, consider getting Cash-Approved today.
Jennifer Shapiro | Jun 9, 2021
The Ultimate Guide to Spring Organizing
You’ve purged out the clutter, so now what? In this blog, I’m going to take you through the process of transforming your piles into an organized system that will serve YOU! So put on your favorite music, throw your hair in a bun (or not), and get ready for my favorite form of self-care: organizing! Start Small As we discussed in the purging blog, motivation comes from small wins, so start small with a linen closet or even just one drawer so you don’t get overwhelmed. Take everything out of the space Yes, everything! Spread the items out on a counter or on the floor so you can see everything at once. Separate out items into categories While everything is out of the space, separate the items into categories. If the grouping is too large, create smaller categories within the larger category. Now that you can easily see everything you have – purge! If you haven’t done so already, now is the best time to purge any clutter from the space you’re working on. See the previous blog on purging for the complete process and tips. Clean the shelves and drawers in the space This is your chance while everything is out! If it’s dusty or there are a lot of crumbs and dirt, vacuum first and then wipe down with an all-purpose cleaner. Measure your shelves and drawers for bins and dividers Measure twice, buy once. This ensures that you aren’t making additional trips to the store unnecessarily! Measure the depth, width, and height of the shelves and drawers and be sure to take into consideration any hinges that may encroach on the cabinet space you have. Purchase bins and dividers if necessary You can use bins you already have, or start fresh if you want to have a uniform aesthetic. Many stores have organization products now, but The Container Store has the widest variety of options to fit any aesthetic, budget, and size. There are storage solutions for virtually anything now! To select the best product, consider the space that you have, where the items will be stored, what items will be stored, and how you want to access them. To reduce visual clutter, choose an opaque binIf you prefer to see what’s in the bins from a glance, choose a transparent binIf you want to easily access every bin, consider adding shelves so you’re not stacking bins, or choose stacking drawersWill it be stored in the garage or basement that could flood but it’s important paperwork or mementos? I recommend a weathertight tote with a seal to keep moisture out of the bins and away from your valuables! Place each category into its own bin, divider, drawer, or area Keep like items togetherBy utilizing bins and dividers to store your items, you keep each category from growing out of their ‘zone’ and becoming a massive pile again. It gives you a visual boundary of how much of that category you have the space for. If you have extra space and want to have room to grow for a certain category, go ahead and include extra empty bins in the space so the organizational system is prepared to accept the new items. Keep frequently used items easily accessible If possible, keep these items close to the area you use them in (i.e. spices and oils close to the stove).Store less frequently used items in harder-to-reach places. Label, label, label! This makes it easy for everyone using the space to know where items belong. Pro Tips: Vertical space is commonly overlooked for storage solutions, and vertical space is vital in small spaces: The back of doorsWall space behind a doorUnder the bedAdditional shelvesCabinet shelves and shoe shelves are great non-permanent solutions to add shelving to smaller spaces File fold clothes in drawers this allows you to see everything you have at once and avoids the mess that comes from grabbing whatever is on the bottom of the stack. Store food storage lids in a bin and nest the containers by shape and size If you love a clean aesthetic - decant anything and everything possible! The more you decant, the cleaner your space will look because you won’t have 100 different colors of (sometimes empty) cardboard boxes everywhere. Food Snack bars out of the box and into a binFlour, sugar, brown sugar, etc.Tea and Coffee Bath items Hair TiesBobby PinsCotton SwabsQ-tipFlossers Keep the minimal amount of items on countertops. Too many items on countertops, desktops, etc. instantly make it look more cluttered. If it doesn’t need to be out or isn’t used every day – put it away! Have a dedicated spot in your garage, mudroom, or a closet for a donation bin and a bin for borrowed items. This will keep these items in one location easy to find and keep them from taking over your house. Utilize the open space between the open studs in your garage Utilize the open space between the open studs in your garage to store items like skis, snowboards, camping chairs, fishing poles, etc. You can do this by screwing in cup hooks into the studs and hooking a bungee cord to the cup hooks, or screw in a 2x4 across the studs to contain the items. Create a system that will work for YOU! Every organizing system should be tailored to those using the space. There are organizing systems that work perfectly for some and how they think and work, but don’t work for you. Find what works best for you! # 1 Pro Tip to Staying Organized: Put items away as soon as you’re done using them! The quickest way to ruin a beautifully organized space is to simply not put things back where they belong. Conclusion: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place’ really is the organizer’s mantra to live by. When items have a home, they’re happy and so are you because you always know where to find them! Bonus: you now have the time you would’ve spent looking for something to spend on what you REALLY want to be doing! Happy organizing!
Elizabeth Calender | Apr 28, 2021
How to Buy a Home - Step Five: House Hunt in a Hot Market
If you didn’t catch our last blog post on choosing a real estate agent before you start your home search, you can get caught up here. In today’s blog, we take a look at the fifth step to purchasing a home: how to house hunt in a hot market. Today’s housing market is hotter than ever. A decade of underbuilding homes has caught up just as demand from the pandemic is hitting an all-time high. With the continuation of record- low mortgage rates and lack of housing supply, the market is not expected to cool off anytime soon. If you’re house hunting in 2021, you can expect to be up against a lot of competition and it may take longer than usual to win a home. In a market this aggressive it’s likely you will only have one chance to see a home before you submit an offer and you may find yourself in a same-day bidding war. So, if you do see a property you like, you will need to put your best foot forward! Prepare as though you will be submitting a same-day offer In a market this fierce, there is a good chance you will not get to see homes at your own pace. The time you are given to spend looking at a house will be rushed because most homes on the market right now have back-to-back showings. Preparing beforehand will allow you more time and space to focus once inside the home and help you reduce mistakes or delays. Make a day of it To make efficient use of your time, make a day of it. Give your agent some lead time to line up as many private showings as possible in one day when you are available. If you want to see as many homes as possible during daylight hours, you might want to consider skipping a break that day and starting in the morning as early as possible. Likewise, it would be wise to avoid making plans for that evening in case you end up submitting an offer that same day. Write down your wish list Write a list of wants and needs for the home, then prioritize each list. If you’re buying a home with a spouse, make separate lists and compare. Review with your real estate agent before and then revisit after seeing 10 homes as a reality check on your price point and to narrow down the list. Do your homework Ask your agent to research “comps” for the neighborhoods you are targeting for your hunt. Studying MLS data of recent sale prices in the neighborhood ahead of time will give you an accurate reality check on the current value. Don’t rely on being able to pull up an online estimate while you’re touring the home. Remember: the data that is compiled by third-party sources on the Internet and is not always correct or consistent. Ask your agent to generate a comps report and then walk you through it. Try to have this conversation at least few days in advance so you have time to review and are educated on the market prior to house hunting. What to Bring Cash Approval ™ or pre-approval letter dated within last 30 days Measuring tape Anyone else who has a stake in the purchase decision. Again-you might have only one shot to see the house before submitting an offer, so you’re going to want to make it count. Pro-Tip: Ask your agent to prepare a folder with a hard copy of MLS sheets for each house you are seeing. Writing some quick notes on each home’s MLS sheet will help keep the details of each home organized in your head for reviewing later. The MLS sheets will also provide you with valuable information on the home and community including the price and date when the home last sold, property taxes, HOA fees and restrictions. What to look for when touring a home Make yourself at home and test drive everything If you are absolutely certain that you don’t like a home, it’s ok to pivot and cut the tour short. On the flip side, if you do like it, take your time and make the most of it. Don’t be shy-this is your time to test drive the house. It is critical that you can see everything in the home clearly. Make sure all the lights are on and the curtains and blinds are open. Bret Weinstein, Founder and CEO of BSW Real Estate prefers to split up from clients when touring a home to maximize the time. “My job is to walk through the house at the same time as you. And then we can meet up at the end and I can point out any material issues I saw, like is the home structurally sound? I want my clients focused on whether they feel like they could live in the home and would feel comfortable. My job is to walk through and make sure that the house is going to pass an inspection.” Checklist for interior and exterior Engage your senses when touring homes. Does the home smell stale or musty? Can you hear traffic from the street or highway? Do you see wear and tear that wasn’t visible in online photos? Here’s a quick list of what to check for both inside and outside the home: Interior: Natural light and views Width and type of stairway Closet and storage space Plumbing and water pressure Type of flooring in each room Age and condition of heating and cooling systems Age and condition of appliances Measure for furniture Exterior Property boundaries Garage size Landscaping Porches, covered patios and decks Age and condition of roof Age and condition of windows Exterior doors Proximity of neighboring homes and how well they maintain their yard Pro-Tip: When surveying the interior and exterior of a home, it’s important to be honest with yourself and separate logic from emotion. Don't let cosmetic features like wallpaper that are easy or affordable to fix or replace dictate a homebuying decision. Determine what your budget for repairs, replacements and renovations is going in and focus on calculating the big-ticket items that can be expensive or intensive to fix like replacing a roof or heating and cooling systems. Recognize that certain things like the floorplan can be costly to modify, but things like showerheads are not and probably shouldn’t carry too much weight in your decision. How to take notes and stay organized when house hunting It’s very common for homebuyers to finish a long day of house hunting and struggle to remember individual houses- everything becomes one big blur. Do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes for notes, pictures and videos while you are in the homes. Give each home a rating of either A, B or C and jot down some quick handwritten notes on the home’s MLS sheet so it is easier to connect the dots later. Walk through the home once and for “A” leads that are top contenders, take a second walkthrough video tour of the home by starting on the street where you can begin filming the block and neighboring homes as you walk inside. Pro-Tip: Write down a few features or personal impressions that stood out about the home that will jog your memory later such as, “house smelled like curry, fire pit in backyard, Kim Kardashian walk-in closet Top 10 Questions to ask the seller’s agent Other than price, what is the seller looking for in an offer?Why are the owners moving? Where are they going?How long have the current owners lived here? Were they the original owners? How old is the home? How old is the roof? How old are the heating and cooling systems and can they show you show where all are located? Are there any repairs or replacements needed? Can you see a copy of the current owner’s utility and maintenance bills? Have there been any offers on the home? How recently and rejected at what price? Is the seller currently reviewing any offers? How many? When is their deadline for you to submit an offer? Pro-Tip: Don’t be too open in sharing your thoughts and feelings with the real estate agent who is showing you the home. Even if it is not the seller’s agent, it could hurt your ability to negotiate later. Debrief with your agent Give your realtor immediate feedback when you leave the house while it’s still fresh in your head. Let them know what you loved or hated about the house, but specifically-what about it was the deal-breaker. This is also the best time to ask your agent their opinion on the home overall, but particularly, price and value. “As soon as we walk out of the house, I ask my buyers, ‘would you buy this home, yes or no?’ says Weinstein. “If the answer is anything other than yes then we move on to the next house. I want to get their gut reaction. Because I think that's where there is so much value.” Bring your head but don’t forget your heart With all these guidelines ruling your home search, it can be easy to get caught up in logic, feel overwhelmed, and lose the joy of shopping for a home. But buying a home is very personal and emotional; there is no app or algorithm that can predict what home you will or won’t fall in love with. Don’t forget to take your heart with you on your homebuying journey and look for the “wow”-that moment you walk into a home and something about it takes your breath away or makes your head turn. Something about it that makes you feel at home. House hunting can feel like a competitive sport in 2021 and easily leave you discouraged at the end of the day. But if you take a little time to prepare in advance and be proactive about it, you’ll be ready to submit a winning offer the same day you find the one.
Jennifer Shapiro | Apr 8, 2021
The Ultimate Guide for De-Cluttering Your Home
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, you’ve probably become aware of the clutter in your home now more than ever. We have been spending much more time at home, and in turn have become (sometimes painfully) aware of the fact that our homes are not a peaceful place to be due to the clutter we have accumulated. By working through this guide, you will learn how to let go of items that no longer serve a purpose and be left with only those that you find to be useful or beautiful in the life you have now. When to purge Before and after a move as you’re packing and unpacking You’re already pulling everything out, so this is the perfect time to purge! Don’t spend precious time or money moving items you no longer want or need. At the change of seasons Purging at this time is easier because what you used/wore is fresh in your mind. Purge the upcoming season at this time too if you know what doesn’t fit or work anymore. Throughout the year Purging becomes a more manageable task instead of a huge project every year or several years. How long will it take? This depends on how much you have to sort through. To start off, give yourself four Saturdays or Sundays. A realistic goal is one category per day. Have these ready: Bag for trashBox for recyclingBox for donationsBox for items that belong in another room/category - Placing items in this box will help you stay focused on the task at hand, and you can address the box at the end of your purging session. Start small Choose one category to evaluate (i.e. kitchen utensils or toiletries). If you tackle too much too soon, you’ll become overwhelmed and quit halfway. Starting small brings small wins and motivation to keep going! Pull everything out This allows you to see everything you have all at once. This step can be overwhelming if the category is too large, so remember to start small! If needed, break it down into a smaller sub-category (i.e. winter coats as opposed to all clothes). If you have items in the category stored in other areas of the home, collect them all together so you can see everything you have in that category. Group items by type or function If you’re doing toiletries – all soaps together, all lotions together, etc. Evaluate each item by asking yourself these questions: Do I use this item now? If not, when is the last time I used it? If it’s been over a year and you won’t use it in the next year, toss or /donate it! Resist the temptation to tell yourself the reasons you ‘might’ find a use for it If you don’t have a concrete plan for the item in the next year, it’s time to let it go Would I buy this again today? You don’t waste money when you purge an item, the money is wasted when you buy things you don’t need - think twice before you buy something! Instead consider the value you’re adding to your life by not having the clutter. Am I not actively using it because it’s a memento that I want to keep? Store the item with mementos Is it expired? Expired medication, food, makeup, car seats, etc. should be thrown away or recycled If it’s something you’re having a hard time letting go of but you don’t use it, ask yourself why you don’t use it or wear it: Does it have bad memories attached? Was it given to me and I’m just keeping it out of guilt? Is it broken or torn? How likely am I to fix it in the next month? Is it for a project I’m planning to do in the future? Do I have a solid plan to do that project soon? Specifically for clothes: Do I feel confident when I wear this? Do I not wear it because it’s scratchy or uncomfortable? Do I not wear it because it has a tear or stain? How likely am I to fix it in the next month? Does it fit? If it did and I could wear it today, would I? Is it still my style? If you’re still finding it difficult to purge certain things that you know you don’t need or want anymore, it’s possible that it’s due to being attached to the clutter emotionally. Don’t be afraid to seek help from the pros! How will I know when I’m done purging my home? The work is never ‘really’ done - it’s like cleaning - but the more frequently you evaluate the items you have in your home and regularly purge, the easier and more manageable it is. With each category you de-clutter, you will feel a sense of peace that comes from knowing that every item serves a purpose, either functional or beautiful. It can be helpful to keep a donation bin handy in the garage or somewhere in your home where you can regularly place items that you’re ready to purge. Tip for keeping clutter out of your home: Before you purchase an item, consider how often you’ll actually use it. If you’ll only use it once or twice a year, think about renting or borrowing instead – especially if you are tight on storage space in your home! Tips for Donating, Recycling, and Trash in Colorado: You’ve purged a category and are feeling amazing about the empowering choices you have made for yourself – congratulations! Now what do you do with the donations, recycling, or any hazardous trash? Common items that cannot be donated: Opened/used food, toiletries, makeup Makeup and toiletries can expire and cause infections. Car seats - Car seats cannot be donated for safety reasons, but many counties offer recycling options Local alternatives to chain donation centers: Denver Rescue Mission - denverrescuemission.org A Precious Child - apreciouschild.org Habitat for Humanity ReStore - habitat.org/restores Dress For Success - denver.dressforsuccess.org Springs Rescue Mission - springsrescuemission.org See websites for full list of accepted items Recycling: Denver County Residents: denvergov.org provides info for the Cherry Creek Recycling Drop-Off Boulder County Residents: bouldercounty.org has a map of recycling drop-off centers Visit your county’s website for recycling drop-off locations and accepted items Hazardous Material Disposal: Denver County: Offers pick-up through wmatyourdoor.com for a small fee Boulder County: Hazardous Materials Management Facility offers appointments for drop-off for a small fee Visit your county’s website for disposal locations, cost, and accepted items Bulk Trash: Most counties offer bulk/extra trash pickup every 4-8 weeks Visit your county’s website for bulk trash schedule and accepted items Purging clutter doesn’t mean getting rid of the things you love! It allows you to live the life you want by honoring where you are now, not where you were in the past. Bonus: less clutter means easier cleaning and lower stress levels!
Elizabeth Calender | Mar 26, 2021