Archive for the ‘Blogs for the Public’ Category

These blogs were posted during Jennifer’s active real estate career with the intent of attracting real estate buyers and sellers in Denver, Colorado. Enjoy!

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How to Sell Your Home in 30 Days or less – Part I

As described HERE, every home seller and his real estate agent should strive for a 30-day sale.

Fair enough. So, how do we do that?

Price is King
Your home must excite the market, not just be ‘fairly priced.' If the comparable competition is priced between $315,000 and $365,000 (and isn't flying off the shelves), you need to be at the lower end or even lower. Just ‘cause the identical house down the street is priced at $329,900 doesn't mean you should price yours there too. Your home needs to blow away the competition, to the point where the buyer wonders if the listing agent blew it on the price because your home is SO MUCH nicer than everything else he saw! We want him screaming "WHERE DO I SIGN?"

In your market, there may be five buyers for every 20 listings. This means that ONLY the top five listings will sell, if those top five are lucky. The other 15 will not sell – there simply aren't enough buyers. And, don't forget, there's new competition coming on the market every day, with fewer Days on Market (DOM) than yours. Buyers know this and are willing to wait for the home that blows them away.

And, no, don't count on overpricing and hoping that "buyers will make an offer." Oh, don't worry, buyers aren't shy about making "offers" (that is, LOW ones), but not if they don't ever see your home. Here's the thing… if your 3-bedroom home is priced alongside comparable 4-bedroom homes, the buyers for that 4-bedroom competition won't even look at your home because it doesn't meet their needs for that additional bedroom. They don't want your house at any price. And thus, won't "make an offer."

Conversely, the perfect buyer for your 3-bedroom home won't see it either because it's out of his price range (and he probably has plenty to look at IN his price range, anyway).

Does this sound overly negative? I don't mean it to be! In fact, in a way, it's good news! Who controls the price? YOU! In most cases, if your home is priced right, it will sell.

But it's just not quite as much fun as the good old days, is it? Yeah, I know.

Stay tuned for more tips to Sell Your Home in 30 Days or Less – Next installment "May I be perfectly frank with you?"

 

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I can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the Denver metropolitan area, there are very few excuses for a home to be on the market longer than 30 days. (And believe me, our market is no picnic.) In fact, the longer a home is on the market, the less likely it is to sell and most certainly, the less likely it is to get you that full-price-or-close-to offer you're hoping for!

There is an energy in a newly listed home that dwindles significantly once you're past the 30-day mark. When a home is fresh on the market, everyone is excited… and that excitement truly is palpable in the air. The owner is all revved up and is diligently cleaning the cat litter box and wiping up his toothpaste spit. He dutifully leaves the home for showings and is happy to accept showings on short-notice. He cheerfully bakes cookies for the Sunday Open House and offers to help his agent put up her Open House signs.

Hopefully, the agent is also excited. She's proud of her new listing and can't wait til her Internet marketing kicks in and the inquiries start to flow. She loads her photos and descriptions onto the MLS, Realtor.com and Craigslist. She puts up her Open Sunday! sign rider. She produces beautiful home brochures. She follows up with every single showing and immediately reports the feedback to her seller.

At least we hope this is what your agent does.

After 30 days… eh… the energy is gone. The homeowner is tired of showings (or the lack thereof). He's sick of cleaning the house before he leaves for work every day, tired of no-show buyer agents, bored with the same ol' feedback. He heats up Chef-Boyardee for lunch and doesn't even rinse the dishes (ick). He refuses showings on the weekends. He demands open houses, but doesn't even make the beds beforehand.

The agent is also a little less enthusiastic about her Fabulous Listing. She's tired of following up for feedback and getting nothing useful. She's tired of explaining to her seller why no one came to the open house. She feels bad that she hasn't Done Her Job and Sold the House, like she promised she'd do. She starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe, she blew it on the price or, just as likely, starts to wish she'd never given in to her seller's pressure and agreed to HIS price. She knew better. Drats.

The market is certainly less excited about the Fabulous Listing. There's a whole different feeling when the buyer asks his agent "How long has this been on the market?" and the answer is: "8 Days" versus "63 Days" or even "122 Days." Who's gonna pay full price for a 3-4 month old listing? Doesn't matter if you Just Reduced the Price, ain't nobody gonna pay what you're asking.

So, how DO you sell a house in 30 days?? Stay tuned

 

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For some reason, homesellers and many agents seem to think that you can use pricing tiers to manipulate the Days on Market (DOM) or marketing time. For example, I've seen many agents explain that "if you price the home HERE, we should sell in less than 30 days. If you price the home HERE, we should sell in 30-60 days. At THIS price point, I'd expect a two-to-four month marketing period." Huh?

Perhaps this strategy was born in the days of rapid appreciation. Yeah, that makes more sense. After all, if we overprice a home by 10% and the market is appreciating 20% a year, then I s'pose you could (over)price a home accordingly, without too much risk. But today? HA! In most markets (and certainly in Denver), ain't much appreciatin' going on. A tired, stale listing is just that. A tired, stale listing. It doesn't get "fresher" with additional DOM. And believe me, buyers have plenty of new listings to check out to mess around with an overpriced, high-DOM listing.

The best chance for a home to sell is in the first 30 days. (Read why HERE). After that, it's a crapshoot … and a free-for-all for obnoxiously low offers. Period.

In fact, in some markets (read about Broker Bryant's market here), homes are depreciating faster than their agents can keep up. If you don't get your 30-day sale, you're probably in a death spiral where you can't chase the market down fast enough. The DOM-manipulation strategy would need to be presented in reverse!

Here's a simple strategy for explaining DOM and pricing:

"If we price your home HERE, it might sell in 30 days. If we price it any higher, it probably won't sell at all." Period.

If anyone still uses the pricing tiers/DOM strategy, please explain it to me. Maybe I'm missing something.

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A few weeks ago, I wrote on why a 30-day sale is our goal whenever we put a home on the market. You can read about that here. I followed that up with a little lecture on pricing – a topic that is near and dear to all of our hearts, although we're probably all tired of the lectures! Preaching to the choir, yeah, I know.

There are two other critical factors of a 30-day sale, in my opinion. Condition… and Accessibility. No, not handicapped accessibility, but SHOWING accessibility.

So, to continue preaching to the choir, here's my take on Condition.

A Message to Sellers:

Your home needs to sparkle and shine. No excuses. It doesn't necessarily have to boast the latest upgrades, but it needs to be clean, tidy and in working order. Oh, and smell good – that's huge. When a buyer walks in your door, they form an emotional opinion about the house that no number of special features or amount of bonus square footage can overcome. No, buyers will NOT overlook dirty dishes in the sink, the aroma of kitty litter or even an unmowed lawn. Without that initial emotional rush, your home is toast. NEXT!

I had a client once who wanted me to sell his rental property, which, frankly, showed like a rental property. However, he had photos of it from when he lived there which proved that it cleaned up nicely. He thought that if we displayed these photos to potential buyers, they'd understand that its current poor condition was fixable. A great thought, but unfortunately, photos aren't going to overcome the negative first impression.

Speaking of first impressions, a question I'm often asked is if flooring should be replaced or an allowance given. Here's my answer. If the flooring is visible from the front door, replace it. If the flooring is in an important part of the house (a kitchen, finished basement or bonus family room), replace it. Again, these are emotional areas and need to trigger a positive response. If the bad flooring is in a bedroom or office, it's probably okay to offer an allowance.

Fix the leaky faucets and the windows that don't open; repair and paint the old water stain on the ceiling, find out why your refrigerator makes such a racket. Dust your ceiling fans and get the bugs out of the light fixtures. Clean up your toothpaste spit every morning and run the garbage disposal before you leave for the day. Put the toilet seat down. This list could go on and on (in fact, Active Rainers – let's add to it and create something really special!).

When a buyer enters your home, they need to be able to envision it as their home. That's tough to do if it's full of YOUR dust, YOUR smells and YOUR toothpaste spit! Strive for an odor-free, dust-free, cobweb-free, clutter-free environment. It's really really really important.

Almost as important as price.

 

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In the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell (the purchase contract), there is a provision in the Dates & Deadlines section called an Acceptance Deadline Date and Time. deadline

Unfortunately, most agents erroneously refer to this deadline as "The Response Deadline."

There's a big difference.

The Acceptance Deadline is simply the hour that the offer, as written, expires. If the seller ACCEPTS the offer, as written, before the deadline, the buyer and seller are under contract.

If the seller counters any provision in the original offer, the seller has rejected the offer and the Acceptance Deadline becomes moot. In other words, the seller did not ACCEPT the offer, therefore no acceptance deadline applies.

However, the confusion between an Acceptance Deadline and a Response Deadline (which does not exist) arises because sellers and their agents get all excited about the Deadline and panic if they won't be able to meet it.

Case in point – I have a listing for which we received an offer last night around 8pm. The Acceptance Deadline is at 1:15 today.

I was not able to meet with my seller last night because… well, because I don't leave the house at that hour unless I'm being evacuated (my heart goes out to my SoCal associates). An offer received at 8pm can certainly wait til morning.

So, my seller is frantic. He's busy this morning and is in a panic that if we don't "meet" the Response Deadline of 1:15… what? The earth will stop spinning? The buyer will vanish off the face of it?

Probably not.

Chances are, we will counter the offer. Whether we do that this morning or this afternoon at 1:16 makes no difference to the Acceptance Deadline provision.

If we were to accept the contract as written, and we did that at 1:16, then the buyer would not be bound by the seller's acceptance. However, the buyer is free to choose to be bound, which is probably what would happen. (If the buyer's fuse is THIS short and he does walk away, then I'm fine letting him go – he probably would have terminated the contract at some point anyway.)

As the vast majority of offers are countered, the Acceptance Deadline is nothing more than a request for a response by a certain time. It's courteous to get back to the buyer's representative by that time, but not mandatory.

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I believe a great real estate agent is a master of her market. Simple as that. She focuses on a few geographic areas and knows them inside and out. She knows, from the address, whether or not that house is on the bus route or if that condo is subject to highway noise (e.g. the west side is okay; the east side is too noisy). She knows if two-story houses are selling better than one-story houses, and she knows why. She knows if it's possible to get a two-car garage, or if off-street parking is as good as it's gonna get.

During my ten year career in Denver, I focused on the Charming Old Neighborhoods, particularly Highlands/Northwest Denver. That's where I lived, worked and roller-bladed, and I knew it inside and out. Give me an address and I could almost tell you what the house sitting there looked like.

I've been living in Alabama for the last two years, but am moving back to Denver next week. I know that the Denver market has changed (duh). Not just the values and marketability; in my beloved Highlands, there's development everywhere! Little Bungalows being torn down and replaced with custom duplexes. Lofty condos going up with views of the City. A trendy new shopping area in a previously rather seedy area, and best of all (for me) there's now a Sunflower Market just SEVEN blocks from my house. 31

When I left Denver two years ago, I sold my house for $322,000. Apparently right after I closed, that little neighborhood skyrocketed and values shot over $400,000. Sheesh. The little Bungalow I'm moving into that  I purchased as a rental in 2005 for $269,900 is now over $350,000 (for 950 sqft – wow – I'm a little spoiled by the Alabama prices I've enjoyed the last two years).

My point is that I have some catching up to do. My first order of business upon landing back in Denver is start previewing like a mad-woman. I LIKE being an expert and I intend to become one again, as quickly as I can. Believe me, it's great fun to be a Master of Your Market and I know of no better way to generate interest at a social gathering than to be able to talk real estate intelligently, at a local level. Seriously – if I'm going to a party, I'll actually preview houses in the area beforehand!

subaru

 But anyway, I'm looking forward to the challenge of getting back up to speed. If you're in central Denver and you see a little yellow Subaru buzzing around, it's probably me, Re-Learning My Market.

 

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alabamaI left Denver in 2006, on a quest to become a Southern Belle. I’ve been living in L.A. (Lower Alabama) for the last two years and, alas, my dreams of channeling my inner Scarlett O’Hara didn’t quite work out as planned. No complaints, no regrets… but two months ago I realized the truth… I don’t belong here… I belong in Colorado. So, in less than a week, I’m heading back. Just me and my three dogs on a 24-hour drive – please send me your good wishes! (oh, and feel free to call me to keep me entertained… and awake! It’s a very long drive.)

Anyway, when I left Denver, I distinctly remember confidently saying “I won’t miss Colorado at all!” Well, I was wrong. While there are things I’ll miss terribly about Alabama (and I’ll write about those soon), I’m thrilled to be coming home. To Denver.

For those who might be taking this wonderful city for granted (as I did), here are some things to remind you how darn special Denver really is:

•        The BIKE PATHS! Denver is truly blessed to be crisscrossed with bike paths. You can strap on your roller blades or saddle up the bike and cruise from one side of town to the other on fantastically smooth, comfortably wide pedestrian paths. Don’t take this lightly; other cities don’t have it! Where I live in Alabama there is literally NO WHERE to roller blade within 100 miles.

•       The PARKS! Feel like taking the pups for a walk? There’s probably a park within walking distance, especially if you live in Central Denver. Whether you’re looking for some quiet, personal contemplative time for yourself or are in the mood to see and be seen… Denver’s parks are truly a wonderful feature of the city.

•       The HEALTH FOOD STORES! I can’t wait to get back inside a Vitamin Cottage and am thrilled that there’s a new Sunflower Market just SEVEN blocks from my house in Highlands!

•       The HEALTHY Lifestyle! Until you’re away from it, you don’t realize how darned healthy people are in Colorado. Look around – everyone is walking, biking or heading for the slopes and… for the most part… not smoking.

•       The DIVERSITY! I’m no political activist, but after living in the south, I have a much healthier respect for the live-and-let-live nature of Denver-ites. ‘Nuff said.

•       The DENVER GRID! Being a real estate agent, I absolutely LOVE the Denver Grid and the alphabetized streets. It’s so easy to get around town (unless of course, you’re dealing with downtown or that pesky I-25 curve that cuts through Wash Park/Platte Park. Messes with me every time).

•       A TERRIFIC AIRPORT! Say what you will, but DIA is a great airport. From my house in Alabama, I have to drive 3.5 hours to Atlanta to go anywhere.

I’ll probably think of about ten more reasons to love Denver after I post this… and if I do, I s’pose I’ll write a second post. But in the meantime, feel free to add yours!shandy

p.s. Thought of one more thing. NO FLEAS. My poor Colorado dogs didn’t know what hit them. My beloved 15 year old Shandy couldn’t handle the stress on her system and died shortly after we got here; I believe from her lack of immunity to the fleas. Lizzie – my dachshund – has practically chewed her tail off trying to relieve the itchies from an adverse reaction to the flea meds. She’ll be glad to get home.

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When you cross the border into Alabama, the state line sign welcomes you to Alabama the Beautiful. And for those whose only experience with the Deep South is connecting through Atlanta, that may surprise you. But, oh my, Alabama is, indeed, beautiful.

I’ve lived here in L.A. (Lower Alabama) for a little over two years. I transplanted from Denver in 2006, for love and weather, but am now heading back to the Rockies. It’s bittersweet and I’m sure I will shed more than a few tears as I see that Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful sign fade from my rear-view mirror.

There’s a lot to love about Alabama, especially my little piece of paradise down here in the southeast corner, just outside of Dothan. So, lest anyone from the Great State of Alabama (a la Forrest Gump) feels dissed about the blog I recently wrote entitled “What I’ve missed about Denver,” I want to share what I’ve found precious about this wonderful place:

•        WARM WATER! Just ½ mile from my house is a fantastic dog-walking creek that is great fun to splash around in for a few hours on a sunny afternoon (and most are). A few miles farther is the Choctawhatchee River where I’ve swam, row-boated, fished and laid out on a quiet white sand beach. Drifting down this river is my idea of heaven – it’s sheer bliss and unbelievably beautiful. Oh, and of course, the blue waters of Destin and Panama City Beach are only 90 minutes away.fairway

•       AFFORDABLE REAL ESTATE! I thought I was dreaming when I first got here. I bought two rental homes on the south side of Dothan and, for those in more expensive markets – get this… The houses were brick, 2500 sqft on ¾ acre lots in a beautiful GOLF COURSE neighborhood with windy streets and lots of trees… I paid $150,000 for one and $160,000 for the other. Yowsa! They’ve appreciated nicely over the last two years, but the market here is stable, so great prices still abound. (Contact my local agent Millie Miller if you’re interested in the area!)

•       The TEN MONTH SUMMER! Okay, so this may not be a big selling point for everyone, but for me… heaven. It gets warm in April and stays nice til Christmas. Yeah, we have a few months of winter, but it never snows , ices or otherwise inconveniences you. I haven’t found the heat or humidity to be oppressive, but I’m a human icicle, so it suits me. (I must say, however, that I absolutely HATE the frigid temperatures that the grocery stores set their a/c to – you literally have to take a coat inside with you in July!)

•       The FRAGRANT FLOWERS EVERYWHERE! In my yard, I have gardenia, jasmine and wisteria growing naturally, all summer long. It’s overwhelming sometimes (in a good way).

•       LEARNING TO THROW DARTS! I’ve become quite a proficient Dart Thrower! (that’s the proper term, not “dart-player”). It’s a lot of fun and attracts a good, although interesting, crowd. Wonder if darts is big in Denver?

•       SWEET HOME ALABAMA – WHERE THE SKIES ARE SO BLUE! Colorado with its 300 days of sunshine has nothing on Alabama. Yep, it rains here and rains hard, but most days are absolutely perfect.

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I'm pulling my hair out this week. Trying to get ready to move, which, as you know, is utterly chaotic. Painters coming and going, carpet cleaners not showing up, my Realtor wants this and that from me… then the CHECK ENGINE light goes on in my car and my renters decide to go MIA (with no rent busypayment in sight).

Sheesh. But I'm still smiling.

Here's the problem. I am a full time writer (for another week anyway) and I work from home. Whenever anyone tries to schedule something with me, the first words out of my mouth are "Sure, whatever works for you, just let me know!" Baaaaad answer. Is it true? Sure – I'm almost always around. But I get NO RESPECT!

Yesterday, my painter told me he'd be by around noon to finish sanding a drywall repair. So, I scheduled my rather hectic day around being home at noon. Lunchtime comes and goes … and no painter. Waiting waiting waiting… at 5:30 he calls and says he'll be by at 9:00 am today. I still have tons of errands to run that didn't get done yesterday (while I waited).  It's almost 9:00 now…we shall see…

This happens to me all the time. I get frustrated and curse the world for being imperfect. But maybe… it's all my fault. After all, I freely give the impression that my time isn't already spoken for which implies that it's not valuable.

So, from here on out, I am BUSY! I have this time and this time available; which one works for you? I think this will be life-changing…

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As you may know, I'm currently in the process of moving from Alabama to Denver, literally. I loaded up the pups in the Subaru on Wednesday, drove to Paducah, KY, then onto Columbia, MO (where my family is), then to KC, MO (where more family is) and last night I stayed in Hays Kansas… just four more hours to go and I'll be in Denver!puppy nap

Well, traveling with three dogs, two of which have never been away from home has been…well, not as much fun as it sounds, especially since it's a balmy 2 degrees during the critical go-potty hours (that is, 5am and 7pm). These are dogs who have lived in the country their entire lives (ten months) and have never been on the other end of a leash. They just don't get the concept of "doing their business" on command, especially with me standing 3 feet away.

So, it seems my entire life these last four days has centered on "Did the puppies poop?" Usually, the answer is… heavy sigh… "No, we'll try again in a bit."

Otherwise, they've been fabulous traveling companions.

A sad side note… yesterday I saw a dog sitting in the middle of I-70; just sitting there, with cars and trucks whizzing by him. His friend was on the side of the highway barking at him and running out to him between cars to try to help. I assume he was hurt. I pulled over, and together with a Fed-Ex driver, we attempted to coax him off the highway… this story ends badly, so you might want to stop right here.

* * * * *

Over the hill come two 18-wheelers, side by side. Nothing they could do. Right in front of me… yeah. Afterwards, the Fed-Ex driver and I pulled the dog's body to the side of the road (he was a big guy – the dog, that is), arranged his legs and head so he looked like he was sleeping, said a little doggie prayer and returned to our cars.

I was so grateful to see my three little non-pooping pups safe and sound in my back seat…

Chicken Paws?

Jul
2011
27

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For Dog Lovers Only….

I"m considering putting my dogs on a BARF diet (BARF = Bones and Raw Food). For many reasons, but the practical one is that we just moved from a home on four acres to a home on 4620 sqft and, well, dog poop is accumulating very quickly! I've heard that on a BARF diet, there isn't really much poop to deal with and what there is pretty much evaporates. TMI? Oh well…

Okay, so I'm in Super Wal-Mart today, looking for suitable BARF food and I see something called Chicken Paws. Uh, yeah, it's chicken feet, toenails and all! But it's only $.83, so I figure, why not? I think the pups would like them – they'll eat anything!

I was kind of embarrassed checking out with my chicken feet, but the checkout lady didn't bat an eye, so what do I know?

Well, the dogs love their chicken paws.

Anyone else doing BARF?

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Been gone from Denver a few years – two years and 6 weeks to be exact. Got back to town a week ago today. Love it, Love it.

So, to celebrate my first week back home, here's a little tribute to Denver…

Denver Is….friendly

…Friendly
I've yet to leave the house for any sort of errand and not had a pleasant conversation with someone – a conversation that left me smiling on my way to the next pleasant conversation. Now, that may not sound like much to you, but I'm not at all a people-person and I tend to retreat into my own little world when I'm in public. People are so nice here! I'm inspired to hold up the tradition!

…Healthy
In my two years away, I'd forgotten how darn healthy this town is. 2 degrees outside? No problem! You still see people biking and jogging (not me). I've yet to see a cigarette and last night I couldn't find a parking space at the new organic grocery store in my neighborhood. When I tell someone I'm gluten-free (can't eat wheat), nine times out of ten they know what I'm talking about. sun

…Sunny
My first day here, last Sunday, was so darn sunny I could hardly stand it. Where else on the planet do you have Sun Glare reports in conjunction with the local traffic reports? Seriously, the sunshine is fabulous and can make an otherwise chilly day feel like spring. Maybe all the sunshine is why people are so friendly?

…Dry
Dry is good… except while you're adjusting. I have a pot of boiling water on my stove which needs replenishing every hour. Chapstick is never far from reach. When I put on my moisturizing lotion in the morning (at 40, I gotta think ahead, y'know), I have to add more 15 minutes later. But, once my body gets used to this, dry is great. There really IS such a thing as "dry" cold and "dry" heat, both of which make temperature extremes much more bearable.

…Easy to Navigate
On my way to Denver from Alabama, I stopped off in Kansas City to see family. Got lost, lost, lost and lost again. I grew up there, for gawd's sake! Denver? All grid. Straight lines that intersect at perfect right angles; even the highways are pretty much straight and uncomplicated. Oh, and most of the streets in Central Denver are alphabetical! How cool is that??? (e.g. Zenobia, Yates, Xavier, Wolff, Vrain, Utica, etc.).

…Home
It just feels right. It's good to be home.

 

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I've been selling real estate in Denver since 1996. Gone thru crazy boom markets and, of course, those not-so-fun, not-so-booming markets. But thru the years, one thing has remained true in this Charming Old Denver real estate market.spring

Spring is the best time sell. Period. Naturally, some springs are better than others – those who have been around awhile might remember the springtimes of the mid-to-late 90's where every house  put on the market sold for $10,000 more than the last, resulting in crazy appreciation rates in a matter of months. But the market always dies on July 4th and stays pretty dead thru November.

Will this trend hold true in 2008? Well, it's hasn't failed me yet, and although we probably won't see the Spring Fevers of year's past, it's not out of the question. Fall of 2007 was brutal to home-sellers (and not so kind to buyers either) and there may be a bit of pent-up demand out there. Here in central Denver, there is an optimism in the air and SOLD signs on the streets. I think we may be heading for a decent spring! Yay!

What does this mean for Charming Old Denver homebuyers or sellers? Well… a few things. If you're thinking of buying, you might consider doing it sooner rather than later. Interest rates are low (in the 5's) and inventory is good. If we do see a seasonal surge in the market, prices will almost certainly go up. Buy now… enjoy the appreciation.

Sellers? If you're thinking of selling in 2008, shoot for an on-the-market date of no later than May 1, if that timeframe works for you.

I'm happy to help brainstorm options with you. No pressure, no obligation!

 

Disclaimer… Of course, I don't have a crystal ball and nothing I say here should be construed as any sort of guarantee… just a report of my own anecdotal historical experience. Please do your own research and soul-searching before making any decisions regarding your real estate portfolio.  

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One of the many ways I kill time online is to look up the addresses of my former homes in Denver to see if they’ve changed hands again.  It’s always fun to look at the interior photos to see what the new owners did to the place.

Whoa! I believe that every single house I’ve lived in here in Denver is either on the market right now or just was on the market! It feels weird – not sure why – but to see all these places I called home at some point in my life splashed all over the Internet… kind of like a little nostalgic journey thru time. 

So… if you’d like to join me on my journey… here we go.

 wyandotHere’s my very first home, built in 1901 in Sunnyside, which I purchased in 1994 for $82,000. It had a mother-in-law apartment on the side which introduced me to the world of landlording. A good thing. It was recently on the market for $335,000, but didn’t sell.

 

 yates

 Here’s the 1872 South Sloan’s Lake home I lived in when I started in real estate in 1996. It was practically a haunted house when we bought it, but we made it fabulous. It’s featured in one of Denver’s history books – “Rediscovering Northwest Denver.” I think we paid $162,000 for it.  It’s currently on the market for $450,000.  

 newtonA few years later, we moved across Sloan’s Lake to this 1890 Victorian, which was actually a listing of mine that I fell in love with. Bought it for $282,000. The blue version is how it was when I owned it; the brown exterior is how it looks currently. Just went on the market for $575,000.

newton

 

 

 

 

 gallery

hudsonThen… we bought my dream house over in Hilltop. I LOVED this house. It was unlike anything I’d ever lived in – very contemporary and “adult” with a gallery of skylights and aliving killer mountain view. I still have dreams about living in this house.

Alas, the “new” owners let it go into foreclosure and it’s now on the market for $200,000 LESS than I sold it for in 2005. I previewed it yesterday and literally cried. It’s trashed.  The agent didn’t even post any photos. With reason. But here are some from when I owned it.

 

king

 And… last, but not least… the house I lived in for 8 months right before I moved to Alabama. Cute little patio home just a few blocks from Sloan’s Lake. I renovated it into what I called “Miami Vice” style; the new owners apparently didn’t approve and changed it to Tuscan. Ah well.  It just sold for $382,000. Minor factoid- the listing agent happened to be MY agent before I got my license.

  living

My “Miami Vice” living room… and the new owner’s “Tuscan” living room.

living room

 

 

 

 

So… there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my own personal Denver Parade of Homes. If you want the scoop on any of these homes or neighborhoods… you know who to call!

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A few weeks ago, I posted a blog called "Chicken Paws."  It was about how I'd found chicken feet at the local dogSuper Wal-Mart and thought my dogs might enjoy them. I'd been considering putting the pups on a BARF diet (Bones & Raw Food) for many reasons, not the least of which was to reduce the poop-load in my new, tiny back yard!

You can read more about BARF here.

Well, we've been BARFing for a few weeks now and it's going well! My dachshund's skin problems are all but gone, the dogs all seem healthier and more energetic and I think the poop-factor is much improved (hard to tell, though with all the snow). And of course, the dogs LOVE their new diet.

I've been feeding them mostly chicken, but am worried because Ziggers has been wolfing down her chicken wings whole. Doesn't seem to bother her, but I'm a nervous mom.  So I read that you can buy a meat grinder and grind up the meat, making it safer, but… I'm not in the meat grinding business and don't really wanna be. What to do, what to do?

So today, I happened to drive by a little shop in Wheat Ridge called "Rocky Mountain Meats." Hmmmm… I wonder if they could grind some meat up for me?

Well, apparently, Rocky Mountain Meats is THE place for BARFers! As soon as I uttered the words Dog Food, the owner showed me an entire freezer full of ground up meat especially for dogs! Bones and all!

Cost? Like… $1.29/pound! You can get Wild Game or a Chicken/Turkey mix; I bought some of each. I'll let you know how it goes over.

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Just spent my morning looking at homes in Northwest Denver/Highlands. Partly for clients; partly for my own keeping-up-with-the-market commitment. As regular readers of my blog know, I've been away from town for two years, so it's really important to me to get back up to speed on the market in my beloved Charming Old Northwest Denver neighborhood.

Because I worked this neighborhood for so many years (from 1996 to 2006), it's an easy task to pick back up on the nuances of the different sub-areas (Highlands Square, West Highlands, Berkeley, Sloan's Lake, etc). Prices have gone up significantly since I left, but I believe that the recently added amenities in the neighborhood support the price increase. In years past, Northwest Denver was cute and charming, but not exactly a mecca of shopping and other lifestyle conveniences. Now, we have a Sunflower Organic Market, a Vitamin Cottage, a 24-hour Fitness, several coffee shops, fantastic restaurants, a yoga studio, and of course, all the long-standing shops & services we NW Denver-ites have enjoyed for years.

 

300

Anyway, back to real estate. For the low $300's, you'll get a modestly remodeled ranch-style home, built sometime between 1910 and 1950. The location will be decent, but not primo. You probably won't get a garage, but it's not out of the question. You'll get two bedrooms and one bath on the main floor, with another bedroom and possibly a bath in the basement. The basement finish probably won't be anything to write home about. Your main floor square footage will range from 700 sqft to 1100 sqft, depending on location and condition.

 

 

 perry

In the mid $300's, your options open up a bit and the condition of the properties improves significantly. You'll have a better location, perhaps even an excellent one. You'll see the same basic floor plans as we saw in the low $300's – 2 bed/1 bath up with more bedrooms and a bath in the basement, but the finishes on both levels will be much higher quality. You can get a garage in this price range, although it might only be a one-car.

 

 

I was a little dismayed by what I saw closer to $400,000. I didn't see a significant improvement over the homes in the mid-$300's; perhaps a marginally better location and a bit more square footage. But overall, I felt that the homes priced near $400,000 were simply overpriced. If I were a homebuyer in that range, I would have been disappointed in my options.

 

moncrief

 

The best house for the money I saw was a 1922 Bungalow on West Moncrieff, priced at $365,000. It had a livable floor plan – wide open with plenty of room for furniture – a nice open kitchen and two nice-sized bedrooms and a remodeled bath on the main floor. The basement was finished with a living area, two bedrooms and a bath. The back yard was professionally landscaped and had a great patio for partying. The only downside was the lack of a garage, although there was off-street parking.

 

 

Well, my beloved Northwest Denver is coming into its own. And I am LOVING living here again.

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We central Denverites love our alleys. That's where our garages are, where we can "donate" unwanted items to alley scavengers and where we keep our City dumpsters. Sometimes we get mad at our dumpsters when they trashblock access to our garages (and just TRY to get a dumpster moved!), but for the most part, I'd say we're pretty happy with our trash disposal system.

However, a few days ago, I saw a pick-up truck cruising down my alley, stopping at each dumpster and poking around in it. His pick-up bed was full of "stuff" – treasures I'm sure. But suddenly, the obvious smacks me in the head. What did I just throw in that public dumpster? Hmmmmmm.

So last night, I took out a small bag of trash – mostly old magazines and junk mail. Today when I opened the lid of the dumpster to toss in the remains of my sushi carry-out container, I saw, with dismay, that the trash from my bag deposited last night was scattered all over the inside of the dumpster – someone had obviously gone through it overnight. Were they looking for my O (Oprah) magazine? Doubt it. Someone who will go through a bag of papers is looking for INFORMATION. Yikes.

I guess this should be a Big Duh moment, but somehow in my idealistic little brain I've felt like "my" dumpster was sacred. And secure. Sheesh.

Guess I better fire up the shredder…

ja

www.charmingolddenver.com

 

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(This blog is written in the present tense, but it actually happened a few weeks ago. I decided against posting it until the situation was resolved to avoid any unnecessary angst while the movers still had my stuff!)

January 24, 2008
I've got the moving blues. It's not as if I expected moving across the country to be fun, but one can hope. Actually, almost everything has gone smoothly with one big movingexception… my MOVERS.

I don't have my stuff yet (that's a story in itself), but I'm almost dreading the day it arrives. I've heard so many horror stories about how crooked movers will hold your stuff hostage until you pay some previously undisclosed and un-agreed-to charge. You can argue all you want, but eventually you give in out of frustration.

In a nut, here's what's going on. About six weeks ago, I went online to get moving estimates. Filled out a few inventory lists and was then bombarded with emailed estimates and phone calls. Estimates ranged from $1600 to $5200. I eventually hired Moving-on-Time because they had both the lowest price and the nicest salespeople. Bad move.

Every time I talked to one of these nice salespeople at Moving-on-Time, I got a different story as to how my move would be handled. The first guy said that the truck would show up in Alabama on January 15th and drive straight to Denver where the driver would wait for me to show up if I lagged behind. Wow – that sounded pretty good. The next guy told me that my things would be loaded on a freight truck with other households, but that I'd be the last one on, therefore the first one off, so again, I'd have my things quickly.

The next person I spoke to told me I could request a delivery date and as long as I called 48 hours ahead of time, they'd be able to honor it. I requested delivery on January 21, and called to confirm that date three times. "No problem" I was told all three times. Even on January 20, I was told that my delivery was on schedule, but that I should call the driver directly to find out what time he'd be here.

So I called the driver on January 21 and apparently got him out of bed. Oops. When I politely asked what time my things would be delivered, he informed me that my things were still in a warehouse in Atlanta and would not be in Denver for at least a week, maybe two. The conversation deteriorated from there as it sunk in that I'd be sleeping on the floor and wearing the same clothes for much longer than I'd expected. Oh, and spending $500 at Target to purchase all the things I'd need to camp out in my empty house.

But oh well. Nothing I could do. So, I broached the next subject with one of those nice salespeople at Moving-on-Time. I was double-charged for fuel; once by Moving-on-Time and once by A Van Linesthe company who Moving-on-Time subcontracted my move to. Ahhhhh….a light goes on. Moving-on-Time is a moving BROKER, not an actual moving company and I'd been warned not to use a broker because all sorts of fun things can happen!

Anyway, Moving-on-Time agreed that I'd been double-charged and directed me to contact A Van Lines to get the problem corrected. I called A Van Lines and spoke with Eddie, the supervisor/owner. I explained that my contract with Moving-on-Time included the fuel charge and that his driver made a mistake when he included it on my revised bill. 

Well, the supervisor/owner at A Van Lines told me in no uncertain terms that because I signed the paperwork that showed the extra fuel charge, I was obligated to pay it, whether it was valid or not. He said it didn't matter at this point what the charge was for; because I agreed to it with my signature, the law was on his side. He used the example that if I went to a car dealership and negotiated a price of $40,000 for a car and then signed paperwork agreeing to pay $55,000 without realizing what I'd signed, would I expect the dealership to honor the $40,000 price? I so wish I'd recorded the conversation – the guy was so smug and so condescending and so, well, slimy!

I then read some reviews online (a little late) and found that I'm not the first person this has happened to with this company.

I tried going back to Moving-on-Time for some help, but they're tired of hearing from me by now. And I kind of understand – there's really nothing they can do to help. They're just brokers after all and they have to deal with Eddie as well … who probably isn't any nicer to them than he was to me.

So, my point is… listen to those in the know who say not to use a moving broker, who make up the majority of online FREE Moving Estimates sites. I so wish I'd hired the guy who actually came to my house to give me a binding estimate, even though his price was quite a bit higher (although in the end, it's close to what I paid).

I'm anxiously awaiting the delivery of everything I own and am trying to be optimistic that this final step will go well. But I'm scared. I'm scared that as a single woman who can be a bit wimpy when it comes to confrontation I'll be further taken advantage of by A Van Lines. I'm scared that because I've complained they'll intentionally break something or accidently leave something vital on the truck. My imagination is working overtime on all the scenarios that could arise.

Wish me luck!

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Last May I found seven little puppies on the side of the road in Dale County, Alabama. Brought ‘em all home, cleaned ‘em up, fell in love. But unfortunately, with three dogs already in residence, keeping all seven was a bit puppiesimpractical.

Here's a picture of the puppies from the night we found them. Which one does your eye naturally go to?

If you said the one with the white circle around its nose, well, that's Baba. She was the charismatic one of the bunch – very outgoing, very confident; the one you naturally gravitate to. If she were in high school, she'd be the homecoming queen.

Not that the others weren't charming and friendly; they were. Baba just had that spark. You know what I mean.

 

Well, I fell for the spark and immediately claimed Baba as my own. She had found a home.

The other six, well, we needed to find homes for them. Tippy went first, then Spike, then Hugger & China, then Peaches. The only one left was… the one we hadn't named yet! The as-yet unnamed dog was shy and skittish. She hung back when people came to pick their puppy and no one had even considered her. Truth be told, we barely noticed her – that's why she didn't have a name.

But we did find a home for her and she reluctantly left our household. Three days later she was back. The new owners said she was sweet, but unresponsive and uncooperative. Well, shoot.

ziggyCut to the chase, Ziggers stayed with us and she is the most loving, calm, patient, beautiful dog on the planet. I love her madly. Oh, I love Baba too and she's still delightfully outgoing. But Ziggers is coming into her own and it's beautiful to watch.

Does this relate to real estate somehow? Doesn't seem to and I can't come up with a connection. If you have one, feel free to chime in. Maybe something about how you don't have to be the most outgoing or popular or charming person in town to be loved and appreciated (and HIRED)?

I just felt compelled to write a little tribute to my darling Ziggers, just in case she's ever felt like a moth next to her butterfly sister.

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I have a new addiction. The Dog Park at Berkeley Park – around 46th & Yates.

dog parkWhy do I say "addiction?" Because… imagine the collective energy of 100+ happy dogs racing around the (fenced-in) park, with their 100+ owners proudly overlooking the scene. It's a rush. Probably something like the rush you get when you shoot illegal nastiness into your veins (no personal experience there though).

On my first visit, I stood in the middle of the park, all by myself, laughing out loud as I watched Baba and Ziggers make new friends, hump old ones and then collapse for a moment or two out of sheer exhaustion, only to spring back to life and begin again.

Feeling a little blue? Head for the Dog Park. Call me – I can be there in five minutes.

I'm addicted.

ja

www.CharmingoldDenver.com