Debbie's Thoughts | Summit County CO Real Estate from Debbie Nelson

Category Archives: Debbie’s Thoughts

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.

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.

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.

Thinking of purchasing – Then get Pre-Approved!!

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

But let’s talk buying in Summit County Colorado.  I HIGHLY (and I repeat…HIGHLY) recommend that you use a local lender when purchasing a property here in Summit County, especially if you are purchasing a condo.  Lenders can get picky about condo associations – and local lenders know the ins & outs of these associations, while national lenders or lenders from other parts of the country simply make their best guess.  It has happened too many times when a buyer is pre-approved, and the process is moving along quite well until underwriting questions something in the HOA…and they deny the loan.  Don’t get stuck in that boat.  Also – local appraisers to work for local lenders BEFORE they do the work for an out of town lender.  So – move your loan process along more quickly by working with local lenders.

Visit my Lenders webpage by clicking here, for my recommendations of lenders who I’ve worked with and recommend here in Summit County.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

AND…work locally…not just because I think it is the right thing to do, but because local lenders know the local appraisers and the local HOA’s.

Delectable Dining in Frisco Colorado – Tavern West

I’m not a huge foodie.  I enjoy trying out new places to eat, but I don’t get super excited by restaurants – because food just isn’t my thing.  However, my husband and I recently discovered a restaurant in Frisco Colorado that I have fallen in love with.  It helps that they are very gluten-free friendly (as a Celiac, I have to be very cautious that gluten-free really is gluten-free).  At Tavern West,  every part of their menu is fantastic!  From the appetizers (you HAVE to try the tator tots!! – they do not say they are gluten free, because they don’t make them there – but I took a risk and tried them, and everything was A-OK), to the salads, to the main course (the cheesy potatoes are to die for) to the desserts are so great.  And their drink menu is wonderful as well.  I especially like the Shoofly Shiraz – but their cocktails are definitely worth a try.  And – they always have drink specials – so if you want a drink, but don’t want to pay the big bucks, then try out one of their specials.  It is a fun atmosphere and the service is fantastic.  If you haven’t tried out the Tavern West yet, be sure to give it a try….and, weekend dinners – I would recommend you get a reservation.

Exploring Summit County

Summer has arrived in Summit County – which is my most favorite time of year!  The glorious blue skies, the green, green grass against the snow-capped mountains are just breath-taking views that I get to enjoy daily.

On Sunday, my family and I took a drive around the north end of the county up by Green Mountain Reservoir.  While the rivers are rushing – and over the banks in some areas, we are still waiting for our reservoirs to fill up.  However, I will defer to the powers-that-be to control the water flows.  There is definitely a science between the amount of snow we have combined with the temperatures, the rate of melt, and the amount of water flowing into the lakes.  Thankfully we have experts in this area that do their best to keep us from experience extreme flooding – or any flooding at all for that matter.

I thought I would share with you a few pictures from this weekend!

Enjoy!!

002 026021  036 041 056

Summit County’s Search & Rescue Team here for you!

Whether you are an avid hiker or backcountry skier, hunter or snowmobiler, you can rest assured that when you are in Summit County’s wilderness, there are people available to help you out in the case of an emergency.

I am proud to have several friends who serve as volunteers on Summit County’s Search & Rescue Team.  Most of these people work full-time jobs in the county, but make themselves available for rescue throughout the year.  A couple of my friends raise their dogs to become Search & Rescue dogs.

This is a service that many people take for granted – but when you fully understand what it takes to bring a person or a group of people to safety, you would be amazed at the amount of hours that these people pour into training.

Take a look at this recent article in the Summit Daily News.  http://www.summitdaily.com/news/6484109-113/rescue-group-mountain-summit

And the next time you decide to ski the backcountry or head out on a hike without really knowing what you need or where you are going, remember that these volunteers will be there to serve you.

Happy May Day from Summit County!

As I write this, I am looking out my window watching another spring snow storm unfold. I’m smiling, because it brings back an incredibly fond memory for me. It was on this date, 14 years ago that my family drove up I-70 and started calling Summit County “home”. And on May 1, 1999, we also had a snowstorm. At the time I thought we must be crazy to move to a place that snowed in May – but we’ve never regretted that move! Our children have enjoyed outdoor activities 12 months of the year. If they aren’t hiking, biking, fishing, or sailing, they are skiing, hunting, sledding or just exploring the outdoors.

I will openly admit that I “tolerate” the month of May in Summit County. It has difficulty figuring out if it wants to snow, rain, or provide glorious days of sunshine to melt the snow away. Appropriately called the “Mud Season” – the month of May does have its benefits. Bikers eagerly await clear roads to get in that first ride of the season, hikers find somewhat dry trails to get in that first hike, and skiers take advantage of the heavy snow days to head to the Basin for what might (or might not) be their last run of the season. Locals enjoy 2-for-1 nights at many of the restaurats around the county. And local businesses often take a 1 or 2 week break during this slow time of the season.

Whatever your feelings about our Mud Season, it is fun to see that first wildflower peek through the snow. As for me, May is the teaser-month to my favorite time of year in the mountains – summer! Hiking and biking are the reasons I live here – and I’m counting down the days to do both.