Debbie's Thoughts about Summit County Colorado

Don’t Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (73% of all buyers made a down payment of less than 20%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of whom perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests you follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO® Score of all closed loans in September was 724, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
  3. Contact a professional – We can recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.
  4. Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
  5. Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!

Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.

Our most Majestic & Most Dangerous Animal

Everyone LOVES to see the moose!  We are fortunate to see them quite often, as we live in a neighborhood surrounded by willows which are some of the moose’s favorite retreats.  A few years ago, my youngest son and our dog were charged by a bull moose right in our front yard.  As soon as Jordan and our dog were out of his line of site, the moose stopped in his tracks, acted as if nothing had happened, and started munching on our Aspen tree.

We moved to Summit County when our kids were 5 and 2.  With 2 little boys who loved to explore, it became imperative that we teach them how to be safe even within the boundaries of our own yard, since we lived right next door to the wilderness.  While many people seem to be so concerned about bear and mountain lions, our biggest concern for our boys was always the moose.  “Don’t approach them”, “hide behind a tree”, “do not let the dog approach the moose…”, became constant reminders as the boys headed out to “explore”.

I think the key to understanding wildlife is that you don’t have to be afraid to venture outside and into the wilderness – just be smart, be alert, and most of all, don’t be stupid and try to approach the animal.

This article just appeared in Facebook on Tiny Doors Frisco timeline (if you haven’t “liked” that page, I encourage you to do so…they have some great history & other good tidbits of info about the town).  This post (courtesy of the Colorado Department of Wildlife) is an excellent reminder of the dangers of moose and what is the best thing to do when confronted by a moose.

 

WHEN MOOSE MEET PEOPLE – Moose have very few natural enemies in the wild and, as a result, do not fear humans as much as most other big game species. Moose tolerate humans longer and at closer distances. They are extremely curious and often will approach humans or houses, and even will look into windows. For these reasons, it is extremely important to understand moose behavior when living in or visiting the areas they inhabit.

Female moose (cows) are very protective of their young (calves), so they can be dangerous if approached or caught off guard. Bulls can also be aggressive and territorial, especially during the breeding season (rut) in the fall. Some bulls have taken over pastures and injured or killed livestock while defending their territories. Moose have also taken over feed yards and haystacks and will defend them from any and all intruders, whether they’re livestock or human.

IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD SEE MOOSE IN THE VICINITY OF A SCHOOL, KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE AND PLEASE REPORT YOUR SIGHTING TO THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL OR STAFF MEMBER IMMEDIATELY.

These formidable beasts need their space and must be given command and respect when observed in the wild.

Signs of moose aggression include laid back ears, raised hairs on the neck, and licking of the snout

Avoid animals that are behaving belligerently or abnormally.

Keep pets away, as moose can get quite aggressive around them.

Be especially cautious when walking dogs.

Moose may think a dog is a wolf or predator, keep dogs away.

If threatened by a moose, stay calm; do not run away. Talk, make your presence known and slowly back off in direction you came.

If a moose does begin to charge, run as fast as you can and try to put a large object between you such as a boulder, car or tree.

While moose encounters with people are quite common, moose cause few problems. However, moose have “treed” people who have approached them too closely, have killed or injured pets or livestock, and have chased people away from territories they are defending. Caution and common sense go a long way in preventing potential problems with moose.

This information is from the Colorado Department of Parks & Wildlife (DOW) Website and was distributed by Summit School District. Please contact DOW directly for more information at: DOW MOOSE SAFETY, Glenwood Office 970-947-2920, or 911 for emergencies.

Your Mountain Dream Home

Looking for Your Mountain Dream Home? Know What You Want vs. What You Need
Looking for Your Dream Home? Know What You Want vs. What You Need | MyKCM

If you’ve been thinking about buying a mountain home of your own for some time now, you’ve probably come up with a list of things that you’d LOVE to have in your new home. Many second-home buyers come to me with a list that is possible to meet, however, it may not fit in their budget.  As with any location, Summit County real estate is a game of trade-offs, but unlike a metro area, you’d be surprised at what might cost you an extra $50,000.

Do you really NEED to be slopeside?  Do you plan on short-term renting your property (some properties do not allow for short-term rentals).  Do you HAVE to have a garage or covered parking?  How important is a view to you?  Are you willing to pay $20,000 more for it or $50,000 more?  Is having a washer and dryer in a condo unit important to you?  Believe it or not, that is one of the biggest things you will have to consider as you look for a Summit County home (if you are trying to stay under $400,000).

The first step in your home buying process should be getting pre-approved for your mortgage. This allows you to know your budget before you fall in love with a home that is way outside of it.

The next step is to list all the features of a home that you would like, and to qualify them as follows:

  • ‘Must-Haves’ – if this property does not have these items, then it shouldn’t even be considered (ex: distance from the ski resort or hiking, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, covered parking, washer & dryer in your unit).
  • ‘Should-Haves’ – if the property hits all of the ‘must-haves’ and some of the ‘should-haves,’ it stays in contention but does not need to have all of these features.
  • ‘Absolute-Wish List’ – if we find a property in our budget that has all of the ‘must-haves,’ most of the ‘should-haves,’ and ANY of these, it’s the winner!

Bottom Line

Having this list fleshed out before starting your search will save you time and frustration, while also letting us know what features are most important to you before starting to show you houses in your desired area.

Is the Summit County Market at its Peak?

I get asked this question all the time.  And, if I had a magic crystal ball, I’d be rich.  However, I don’t, and we can never be sure what the market is going to do.

But I do have these thoughts to share.  With the exception of the big market drop in 2008-2010, Summit County real estate has seen a steady increase in prices.  Some years are more significant than others, and that is usually because of the number one reason for price increases – Demand is higher than the Supply.  This is definitely what we have seen this year.  A healthy inventory would mean that we have about 6 months worth of inventory.  However, this year, for properties under $1M, we have had less than 3 months of inventory – which drives that price up.

Another factor you can watch is what is happening in the Denver market.  Historically, the Summit County market follows the Denver market by 18 months – 2 years.  While it isn’t an exact science, you can get a feel for what might happen in our market by studying the Denver Real Estate market.

Linked below is a very interesting  report from Land Title Guarantee Company.  It is a graph that shows the Average Residential Price over the past 29 years.

29YearResidentialAVGSummit

I wish I had all the answers, but my gut tells me this.  I think we will see a leveling out of residential prices over the winter.  Assuming no major market changes nationally, I anticipate a steady increase as we move into next summer, but probably not as steep as what we saw this year.

If you are waiting for that big price drop, you may be waiting a long time, or hoping for a stock market crash, because I don’t anticipate a fall in our real estate market unless we experience something like that again.

Be smart about your purchase.  Don’t let emotions take over.  And let us help you make a good investment.

Want to Keep up with the Jones? Now’s the Time!

Does your current house fit your needs? Does it seem like everyone else is moving up and moving on to more luxurious surroundings? Are you wondering what it would take to start living your dream life?

Market conditions in Summit County have presented an opportunity like no other for those who are looking to make the jump to a premium or luxury home.

Land Title Guarantee Company reports that in Summit County 948 residential properties sold in the first half of 2017.  As of today, August 23, 2017, we only have 551 residential properties active on the market – that means we only have a 3.4 month supply.

The chart below shows the relationship between the inventory of homes for sale and prices.

Want to Keep Up with the Joneses? Now’s the Time | MyKCM

According to Summit’s MLS, we only have 2.4 months of inventory for homes listed UNDER $1,000,000, yet we have 8.7 months of inventory for homes priced over $1,000,000.

This has created a seller’s market in the lower-priced markets where homes are on the market less than 38 days on average and a buyer’s market in the luxury market, where homes were on the market for an average of 169 days.

Bottom Line

If you are even thinking of listing your home and moving up to a luxury home, let’s get together to evaluate your ability to do so. Homeowners in Summit county are upgrading their homes, why can’t you? Your dream home is waiting!

Preparing your House for Sale

Yes, here in Summit County, it is a Seller’s market.  However, there are some simple things you can do to increase the interest, and possibly the offers, on your home.  This is a comprehensive list and not all items necessarily apply to condos.  The whole idea behind these items is that we don’t want your home to look “tired”.

10 Tips to Improve Your House’s Curb Appeal
  • Give your entry a facelift with either a new coat of paint or a new front door.
  • Don’t forget to landscape your yard!  A well groomed lawn shows buyers that the home was taken care of.  Obviously, if your home is a condo, this tip doesn’t apply to you.
  • Wash all windows (inside & out) – you don’t want to take away from a great view with dirty windows!  Call me if you need recommendations for a good window washer.
  • Clean out your garage – or storage area!  Consider getting a storage unit to store any non-essential items.
  • Add a pop of color by planting flowers.
  • Remove any lawn ornaments that you will want to bring with you to your new home.
  • Replace a worn out welcome mat to welcome buyers as they tour the home.
  • Paint or replace the street numbers on the house to make them more visible.
  • Power was any outdoor surfaces to give them a “like new” feel (for example siding, sidewalks, driveway).  Again, doesn’t apply if you are in a condo.
10 Tips to Make your House Feel Like  Home To Buyers
  • Clean Everything!   A clean home will allow buyers to picture themselves in the space and not distract them.  If you need recommendations for cleaners, please call or email me!
  • Give every room a purpose.  Even if you used it as a bonus room, giving it an identity will help buyers.
  • Let the light in!  Bright rooms feel warm & inviting, dark rooms feel small & gloomy.
  • Fix anything that is broken.  Buyers will notice and may offer less for your house if repairs are required.  Summit County is notorious for broken seals in windows.  Check all your windows.  Most buyers are going to ask to have those windows replaced – so you might as well do it now and improve the appeal of your home from the very start.  Fix cabinets that are coming off their hinge, doors that don’t latch, etc.
  • Unclutter your house!  Thinning out your closets & pantries will show how much room is actually available.
  • Fresh Paint & New Carpet are the top 2 things you can do to help your home sell faster and for more money.
  • Organize the kitchen!  Store any non-essential, small appliances & clean all surfaces.
  • Before your home is shown, empty all trash bins and hide any dirty laundry.
  • Make sure all doors open & close smoothly.  Fix and squeaks on bedroom or closet doors.
  • Replace light bulbs with new ones and make sure all switches work.

If you would like more specific suggestions for getting your house ready for market and is a great resource for finding local contractors who can help!

An Agent Who Puts You First

When it comes to buying a home, whether you are a rookie homebuyer or have gone through the process many times, having a local real estate expert who is well versed in the neighborhood you are looking to move into, as well as the trends of that area, should be your goal.

One great example of an agent who is in your corner and is always looking out for your best interests is one of the main characters on ABC’s Modern Family, Phil Dunphy.

For those who aren’t familiar, the character Phil is a Realtor with a huge heart who always strives to do his best for his family and his clients.

In one recent episode, Phil even shared the oath that he created and holds himself accountable to:

“On my honor, I promise to aid in man’s quest for shelter, to recognize I’m not just in the business of houses — I’m in the business of dreams in the shape of houses. To disclose all illegal additions, shoddy construction, murders, and ghosts. And to put my clients’ needs before my own.” 

While this might seem silly, and it was definitely written with humor in mind, the themes of helping someone achieve the American Dream and putting a client’s needs above your own are not to be taken lightly. 

One of the most important things when you decide to buy resort property is to really understand what your goals are with this property.  That is our first step in working with a buyer…identifying what you want to achieve.  Is this solely a 2nd home, is it primarily an investment property, will this be your primary home or eventually become your primary home?  We’re not in the business of sales.  We are in the business of matching our clients with properties that best suit their needs.

Bottom Line

When you make the decision to enter the housing market, as either a buyer or a seller, make sure you look for an agent who exemplifies these values and will help you through every step of the process.

Hiking Shrine Pass

A very popular hike lies at the top of Vail Pass.  A favorite for wildflower enthusiasts, Shrine Pass is short (only about 45 minutes to 1 hour to the summit), but a steady incline every step of the way.  It is considered an “Easy” hike – but remember that you are starting at around 11,000 feet.  So if you are from the “low lands”, just take it nice and slow….you will enjoy the wildflowers and the views all along the way.

At the summit, you will have a tremendous view of Mount Holy Cross.  It is a nice hike, but you will be enjoying it with probably 100 of your closest hiking buddies (ha!).

I recently enjoyed this hike with a group of friends from the Real Estate Industry here in Summit County.  I thought you might enjoy the beautiful flowers from along the trail!

Enjoy the pictures.

Homeowners Associations – What you need to know

When you purchase a condominium, townhouse, or another type of property in a planned development, you are obligated to join that community’s homeowners’ association (HOA) and pay monthly, quarterly, or annual HOA fees for the upkeep of common areas, and in some cases, the building and some of the utilities and services provided.  You should be aware of the following things about homeowners’ associations and how they work before you buy.

HOA Basics

First, let’s take a look at what HOAs are all about.  HOA fees vary greatly depending on what they cover and where they are located.  Typically, the more amenities a property has, the higher the homeowners’ association fees are likely to be.  In addition to monthly fees, if a major expense such as a new roof or a new boiler comes up and there aren’t enough funds in the HOA’s reserves to pay for it, the association may charge an extra assessment that can run into thousands of dollars.

Because multiple parties live in the same building or complex, all residents of condominiums and townhomes must be equally responsible for maintaining the common areas such as landscaping, swimming pools, clubhouses, fitness rooms, building exteriors, roofs, and in some cases boiler systems.  Many of these types of common areas, such as landscaping, trash removal, etc., also exist in subdivisions of single family homes.  Regardless of whether the HOA governs a building, such as a condo or townhome structure, or a neighborhood of individual houses, HOA fees help maintain the quality of life for the community’s residents and protect property values for all owners.

In addition to maintaining common areas, HOAs also set out certain rules that all residents must follow called covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs).  In a common building, rules may include what color front door you may have, whether you can have a satellite dish, number of pets permitted, and so on.

In a subdivision with individual homes, regulations may include what color you can paint your home, the exterior landscaping you can do, the types of vehicles you can park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example), and permissible type and height of fences.  If you want to do anything that differs from these rules, you will have to convince the HOA to grant you a variance, which is probably unlikely.

What you Need to Know

While there are laws governing the behavior of HOAs, these associations can still have a powerful impact on your rights as a homeowner.  Before buying a property in a community that has an HOA, you should:

  1. Learn the HOA’s rules. Colorado’s contract is very buyer friendly, and you are given an opportunity during the contract period to review all HOA documents.  Colorado Real Estate Company – Nelson Group, typically writes a contract to receive HOA documents (or access to the documents through their website – which is usually the case) within 1 week of the contract date.  We then typically provide for another week to review these documents.  Pay particular attention to Rules & Regulations and fines associated with not abiding by these rules.
  2. We also recommend reading through AT LEAST the last two years of meeting minutes (including both board meeting minutes (which typically happen monthly) and membership meeting minutes (which typically happen annually). Watch for any discussion of major projects and if an assessment will be needed to cover that project.  These meeting minutes should give you a good feel of the HOA, how well it is managed, how much regular maintenance is completed, and the general “mood” of the members.
  3. We also encourage buyers to make a phone call to the HOA president (or one of the board members who regularly attends the board meetings (noted in board meeting minutes). If there are things you want to do to the property, ask if it is likely to be approved or what regulations might surround those changes.
  4. In our market, many people want to rent their property on a short-term basis. If this is important to you, make sure that the HOA you are interested in allows for short-term rentals.  Let us know that this is important to you right up front – because it is not worth looking at property in HOAs where short-term rentals are not allowed.
  5. Make sure the property you want to buy is not already out of compliance with HOA rules. Buying into an existing problem can be a headache, so find out what the rules are and whether you would have to make changes to the home to comply.
  6. Consider your temperament. Are you the type of person who hates being told what to do?  If so, living in a community with an HOA may be a very frustrating experience for you.  One of the major benefits of homeownership is the ability to customize and alter the property to suit your needs, but HOA rules can really interfere with this.  However, an HOA may be exactly what you want and need in a second home environment, if you prefer to have someone else take care of the maintenance of the property.
  7. Find out about fees. Fees will differ for each community.  Because of this you should make sure to find out the answers to the following questions:
    1. How are HOA fee increases set? (A good question for the president)
    2. How often do increases occur, and by how much have they historically been raised?
    3. How large is the HOA’s reserve fund? Although – unless you know a lot about finances of HOAs this may not be very helpful.  Another good question for the president – do they feel that there is enough money in reserves to handle upcoming issues?
    4. Find out what the monthly dues cover. When comparing condo/townhome projects in Summit County, no two HOAs are alike.  Many cover everything, like gas/heat, electric, cable tv, Internet/wifi, water/sewer, trash removal, snow removal.  While others only cover some of these items.  When comparing complexes and HOA dues, just make sure you are comparing apples to apples – dues for one may seem extremely high, but they cover everything, compared to one with low dues that only cover a couple of items.

Homeowners’ associations can be your best friend when the prevent your neighbor from painting her house neon pink.  However, their rules and regulations may not fit with your lifestyle.  Before you purchase a property subject to HOA rules and fees, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into.