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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Do You Decide When It’s Time to Downsize? It’s a Very Personal Decision

Downsizing is an increasingly common reason that homeowners make the decision to put their home on the market.  It’s not an easy decision to make, and it can take years to “pull the trigger.”

There are many reasons people choose to downsize — to buy a smaller house on a smaller lot.

The “empty nester” is probably the most familiar example.  The children are off to college or have simply moved away, and you’re heating a lot of excess square footage each winter.  Sometimes the urge to downsize is to forestall those children returning — what we’ve come to know as “boomerang” children. You’re glad they’ve left your nest and don’t want them to return except on holidays with the grandchildren!

Recently I listed a 5-bedroom home for a couple that were not empty nesters.  They not only have children, but they’ve accepted friends of their children into their home, because of their big hearts.  Now they want to move into a 3-bedroom home so that they won’t allow themselves to have as many extra live-ins!

Another common scenario is the homeowner with a large lot, including perhaps a garden.  They love gardening and they love having the big yard, but they’re also getting on in years and worry about it becoming too much.  The only way for them to cut down on the hard work of gardening and yard maintenance is to get rid of the yard.  It’s not that they no longer enjoy it, but they know they can’t keep it up forever and they see the possibilities in releasing that obligation. These are the buyers who want to buy a patio home where all exterior maintenance and lawn care is handled by their HOA.

As our cities and neighborhoods get more crowded and built out, I encounter sellers who want to downsize their environment and not just their home.  Put bluntly, they just want to get away from people and the traffic they create.  When they bought their current home, it was quieter and less crowded and they didn’t have as much traffic to contend with when they did their daily errands or commuted to work.  Now maybe they’re retired (or are getting close to retiring) and, as much as they love the home they’ve lived in all these years, they want to move to a quieter environment, where the homes are further apart and there are more trees.

Then there are the elderly for whom downsizing means moving into assisted living. Perhaps they’ve fallen in their home and are worried about falling again.  Or they have cooked three meals a day for 50 years and like the idea of not cooking any more. It’s hard to leave that home, but common sense dictates that it’s time.  I wrote about this topic a couple months ago when I discovered Care Patrol, a business that helps people in this situation choose the best assisted living or senior community. As real estate professionals, we’re ill-equipped to assist or advise beyond selling their home.  Now I’m joined in my listing appointments by Jenn Gomer or Kim Thomson from Care Patrol, who fill that need beautifully. Just this Monday I had a closing with a couple in their 80’s whose transition from home ownership to assisted living was eased by Care Patrol.  It warmed my heart.

Health is a big motivator.  One couple I know received a diagnosis of early stage Parkinson’s disease. This couple owns an RV and loves to travel, so they decided to sell their home and hit the road while they could still enjoy it. Another couple, getting on in years, loved to sail. They sold their house and bought a boat they could live on and moved to the Caribbean!   The theme is the same — enjoy life while you can.  If you have enough equity in your home and enough savings, it can be a viable option!  (It has Rita and me thinkin’…)

Whatever your own reason for downsizing, you may find it worthwhile to brainstorm with a Realtor about your options. Certainly, we Realtors at Golden Real Estate are happy to do so without any obligation to hire one of us as your agent.  Let’s put our heads together and look at what’s possible.

[Published Oct. 29 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Get Your Last-Minute Pumpkins from One of the Habitat for Humanity Pumpkin Patches

Each year about now the stores have run out of good pumpkins, but you’ll find plenty at the Habitat for Humanity pumpkin patches at Garrison & Alameda and at 68th & Wadsworth. The pumpkin sales also benefit the Navajo tribe which grows them in southwestern Colorado.  Proceeds from these two pumpkin patches net Habitat for Humanity over $30,000 annually.

[Published Oct. 29, 2015, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Just Listed: Affordable Ranch-Style Home in Arvada's Lamar Heights

6688 Otis Court, Arvada

   This beautifully remodeled home features a new kitchen with granite countertops and stainless appliances, new windows, carpet and paint.  You’ll feel right at home the minute you walk into the main room of this meticulously maintained home and feel the warmth of the wood fireplace.  The 624-sq.-ft. garage is a dream come true with 37 ft. of work bench and 20 ft. of wall cabinets, brand new 9-foot tall garage doors and tons of storage!  Recreational vehicles have plenty of space on their own privately fenced, 44 x 20 ft. gravel pad, complete with 30 amps of power and water hook up. Do you need more storage space? No problem! The basement under the garage (that’s right!) offers an additional 624 sq. ft. of space; the possibilities are endless!  The corner lot is large and features fruit trees and mature landscaping.  Showings begin on Thursday, Oct. 22nd.
Listed by Kristi Brunel, 303-525-2520.

What Is the Value of a Realtor When You Can Sell Your Home Without One?

[Published Oct. 22, 2015, in most Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in three Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

     Many sellers jump into “For Sale By Owner” without considering what they give up and how little they’ll actually save by going this route. Here are some things to consider before making the FSBO decision. 

     Who’s going to handle showings?  You do NOT want to handle showings yourself!  With most brokerages, you benefit from a professional showing service that takes the calls at all hours and makes sure that lockbox codes are only given to licensed agents. Some agents provide electronic lockboxes that prevent codes from being used more than once.

Who’s going to show the home to buyers who don’t have an agent?  This is your listing agent’s job. And most buyers are uncomfortable looking at homes when the seller is present.

Are you skilled at negotiation? If you’ve priced the home right (and how would you know?), you will receive multiple offers, which is how you get the most for your home. An experienced agent knows how to juggle multiple contracts and get you the best deal, which goes far beyond the best price. You may want flexibility on the closing date, and your listing agent may be able to get the winning buyer to accept a defect as is or to buy that excess furniture you were going to have to put on craigslist.  What a relief that would be!

 Who’s going to help you understand the contract submitted by a buyer’s agent?  If you’re the only party to the transaction without professional representation, you could lose out on finer details.  If you don’t have an agent, you may have to hire a real estate attorney.  Now you’re talking big bucks!

How will you deal with the inspection objection notice?  Getting under contract is only the beginning. You’ll need to negotiate repairs and possibly deal with a low appraisal.  An experienced real estate agent does this well.

Have you considered your out-of-pocket expenses?  There’s the lockbox, signage, advertising, photography, fliers and website fees.  Maybe you’ll pay some “limited service” agent a few hundred dollars just to put it on the MLS.  Listing brokerages assume those costs, and a good brokerage pays extra to feature your home on Zillow, Trulia, and other websites.

How much do you think you’ll save?  Most FSBO’s end up paying a 2.8% “co-op” commission to the buyer’s agent.  You may think you’re going to save 5-6%, but it ends up being much less, even without considering what a skilled agent can save (or earn) you, as described above. And most listing agents will discount your listing commission considerably if you let them earn a commission on the purchase of your replacement home. 

Your listing agent might sell your home and save you even more.  Many agents will reduce your listing commission if they don’t have to pay the co-op to a buyer’s agent.  This means your 5-6% commission could be reduced to 4-5%.  That means you might get the benefits of a listing agent for 1-2% above what you would have paid a buyer’s agent.

[See next post for a description of Golden Real Estate's "value adds"]