Author Archives: Garry Callis - Legacy Real Estate Group - Colorado
No matter if you keep your home sealed tight, leave the windows open, have a steady stream of visitors stopping by, or prefer to be alone, dirt (and, worse, microbes!) will worm their way into your pad.
And bathrooms are the worst for collecting the yuckiest of grime and germs. Check out these upgrades that’ll give you a fighting chance against germs, dirt, and bacteria while doing a whole-lot-less cleaning. Game. On.
#1 Materials That Use Little or No Grout
Who says a bathroom has to have tile? Dirt and grime love to cling to the gritty grout between tiles. To banish it from your bathroom for good, try glass or waterproofed real-stone veneer. They come in large sheets — hardly any grout needed. Maybe some at the joints, but that’s better than the entire wall and floor.
If you want to go completely groutless, there’s an ancient Moroccan technique called tadelakt that uses lime-based plaster, which is waterproof, resists mold and mildew, and, best of all, is sealed with a soap solution to keep grime away. It’s worked for centuries, so it should work in your bath, too. It’s pricey, though, because it requires trained artisans to apply.
An affordable alternative, suggests Stephanie Horowitz, managing director of ZeroEnergy Design in Boston, is to opt for large tiles with narrower grout lines. “It’s a fresh, modern look that requires minimal upkeep,” she says.
#2 No-Touch Faucets
Sensor-operated faucets aren’t just for crowded airport and mall restrooms. They’re growing in popularity in homes, too. If germs are your No. 1 enemy, a sensor faucet is a good choice because without touch, it’s tough for germs to find a foothold.
Some models also light up when you approach the sink — a cool, futuristic bonus for when you’re stumbling around in the middle of the night.
But because sensor faucets require a battery or electrical connection, users have complained that they break down more. Funny thing, though. Many say they would buy it again because they love the touchless feature.
Just don’t expect them to save you water. The last official study by the Alliance for Water Efficiency (in 2009) found they actually used more water.
#3 No-Groove Toilets
If you’ve ever transformed into a contortionist while reaching to clean every last yucky crevice in your toilet, the one-piece model was made for you. Because traditional two-piece toilets have a separate bowl and tank, they have lots of tiny crevices that are hard to really get clean.
You may spend a bit more for a one-piece model, which is molded from a single piece of porcelain, but the amount of scrubbing time you save may make it worthwhile. Plus, you don’t have to get up close and personal with the nasty parts.
Today’s pressure-assisted toilets not only reduce cleaning time, but virtually eliminate backups, thanks to a forceful jet of water that scrubs the entire bowl and removes everything in its path. On this one, you’ll actually save water. Because of their eco-smart designs, these high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four up to 16,500 gallons of water annually.
#4 A (Good!) Exhaust Fan
This is probably the least-sexy upgrade, but did you know it’s the No. 1 feature buyers want in a bathroom? That’s probably because it’s so effective at fighting bad micro-organisms.
Not only does a good exhaust fan fight mold, mildew, and other nasty micro-organisms, it protects your walls, paint, and trim. If left unchecked, excess moisture can cause your wallboard, paint, and trim to deteriorate. So spending a few hundred dollars on a fan and pro install could save you thousands down the road.
That’s a low-cost, no-brainer upgrade. Even if you already have an exhaust fan, take a look at the newer ones. Today’s models are much more efficient than the old buzz saw you might currently own. They’re quieter, more powerful, and use less energy.
If you forget to turn it on before you step into the shower, some models even come with a humidity-sensing feature that automatically turns the fan on when humidity is detected, then shuts off when the air is clear.
LISA KAHN writes extensively on home improvement, interior design, luxury real estate, and travel for media outlets including About.com, “The New York Times,” “The Ledger,” and “New York Spaces.” She has also edited dozens of books on home design, landscaping, cooking, and travel. Follow Lisa on Twitter.
This original article was posted here. We found it so helpful we wanted to pass along to everyone again! First Things To Do After Buying A House.
What to Do ASAP as a New Homeowner (“Future You” Will Thank You)
It’s finally yours. Your very own home. You can paint the walls whatever you like. Heck, even knock out a wall! There’s no landlord to fight you.
But if you’re serious about developing good homeowner habits (so your home makes you richer, not poorer), you’ll follow these tips. Easier to do now than suffer some head-slapping regrets later.
Security & Safety
These are the very first things you should do after buying a house (for obvious reasons):
1. Change locks. Spares could be floating around anywhere.
2. Hide an extra key in a lockbox. Thieves look under flower pots.
3. Reset the key codes for garage doors, gates, etc. The former owners might’ve trusted half the neighborhood.
4. Test fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Who knows when the last time was. Definitely install them if there are none.
5. Check the temperature on your water heater, especially if you have young ones, so it won’t accidentally scald. Manufacturers tend to set them high. (but the best temperature setting for hot water is 120 degrees).
6. Make sure motion lights and other security lights have working bulbs.
7. Put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and each additional floor.
Start your master maintenance plan (and good home-keeping habits) by setting reminders in your calendar to do these basic maintenance tasks:
8. Clean out the dryer hose and vent yearly. Clogged ones burn down houses. And you don’t know the last time the previous homeowner did it.
9. Change your HVAC filters at least once a season. You’ll save on heating and cooling — and your unit will last longer. (While you’re at it, go ahead and stock up on them, too.)
10. Schedule HVAC maintenance for spring and fall.
11. Clean your fridge coils at least once a year. It’ll run better and last longer. (Don’t see any coils? Lucky you! Newer fridges often have coils insulated, so there’s no need for annual cleaning.)
12. Drain your water heater once a year.
13. Clean your gutters at least twice a year.
14. And if all items on your inspection report were not addressed, make a plan to fix them — before they become bigger and more expensive repairs.
You really really don’t want to be figuring any of this out in a real emergency. Do it now. You’ll sleep better and be less likely to ruin your home.
15. Locate the main water shut-off valve. Because busted pipes happen to almost every homeowner at least once. And water damage is value-busting and pricey to fix.
16. Find the circuit box, and label all circuit breakers.
17. Find the gas shut-off valve, too, if you have gas.
18. Test the sump pump if you have one. Especially before the rainy season starts.
19. List emergency contacts. You already know 911. These are the other numbers you often need in an emergency. You should have them posted where they’re easy to see.
20. Assemble an emergency supply kit. Some key items are:
- Flashlights and batteries
- Non-perishable food and water
- Blankets and warm clothing
- A radio, TV, or cell phone with backup batteries
Home & Mortgage Documents
In case there’s a dispute with your mortgage lender or a neighbor over property lines, or if you’re a bit forgetful about due dates.
21. Store copies (the originals should be in a fireproof safe or safety deposit box) of important home documents so they’re readily available. Go paper, cloud, or better, yet, both.
- Lender contact information
- Property survey
- Inspection report
- Final closing documents
- Insurance documents
22. Set mortgage and other bills to auto-pay so you’re never late.
Here in Colorado we have spectacular mountain views available to us all along the front range. It is one of the most highly requested items by Buyers in their home search wants.
The difficulty comes in determining how much the added cost for that view actually is- and whether is it worth it. That’s where real estate appraisers and analysts who study home values can help, even though they recognize there’s no simple answer.
“Views are actually really difficult to quantify,” says Andy Krause, principal data scientist at Greenfield Advisors, a real estate research company. “It’s somewhat subjective, and some of that is in the eye of the beholder.”
Assigning a dollar value can also be difficult because not all views are equal or valuable, and a view that’s sought-after in one location may not be in another.
So how do you put a price on a variety of views? What are you willing to pay for an amazing view?
Could it really be summer?!
Tackle these five summer maintenance tasks during June’s longer days and better weather — and save yourself time and money this winter.
#1 Update Outdoor Lighting
In June, winter nights are probably the last thing on your mind. But early summer is the perfect time to plan for those “OMG it’s only 4:30, and it’s already dark ” moments by adding or updating landscape lighting.
The most energy-efficient, easy-to-install option is solar lighting, but it won’t perform as well on dark or snowy days. For light no matter the weather, install electric.
LED bulbs last up to five times longer and also use less energy than comparable bulbs.
#2 Clean Your House’s Siding
With a bit of preventative maintenance, your home’s siding will stay clean and trouble-free for up to 50 years. Fifty years! Clean it this month with a soft cloth or a long-handled, soft-bristled brush to guarantee that longevity.
Start at the bottom of the house and work up, rinsing completely before it dries. That’s how you avoid streaks.
#3 Focus on Your Foundation
There’s no better time for inspecting your foundation than warm, dry June. Eyeball it for crumbling mortar, cracks in the stucco, or persistently damp spots (especially under faucets). Then call a pro to fix any outstanding issues now, before it becomes an emergency later.
#4 Seal Your Driveway Asphalt
Your driveway takes a daily beating. Weather, sunlight, cars, bikes, and foot traffic – all of these deteriorate the asphalt. Help it last by sealing it. Tip: The temperature must be 50 degrees or higher for the sealer to stick, making June a good month for this easy, cost-effective job.
#5 Buy Tools
Thanks to Father’s Day, June is the month everyone can get a deal on tools, tool bags, and that multitool you’ve had your eye on. If it’s time to replace a bunch of tools, or you’re starting from scratch, look for package deals that offer several at once. These can pack a savings wallop, offering 30% off or more over buying the tools individually.
Great article from USA Today about the buying habits of the Mellennials age group …
Millennials put off buying their first home as they struggled with the aftereffects of the Great Recession. Now that they’re snapping up houses in greater numbers, many older Millennials are making up for lost time: They’re bypassing the traditional gateway to homeownership – the starter, or entry-level, home – and buying larger, more expensive houses where they’re likely to raise families and maybe even grow old.
“They rented for longer,” says Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton. “Now they’re going to where they want to stay,” possibly for decades.
By renting or living with their parents for years, many Millennials in their mid-30s can now afford pricier houses because they’ve socked away more money and moved up to better jobs, Swonk says. And they need the extra space because they’re finally getting married and having kids after deferring those transforming events. Also nudging them into more lavish houses is a severe shortage of lower-priced starter homes.
How big is a starter home?
There’s no hard-and-fast definition of a starter, or entry-level, home but a one or two bedroom – and a small three-bedroom— typically would qualify, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Prices vary widely by market but starters on average cost $150,000 to $250,000 while trade-up and premium homes cost upwards of $300,000, Swonk estimates.
DMAR Real Estate Market Trends Report for MAY ’18 –
In April, Denver-area home buyers purchased homes on the market within an average of 20 days alongside the average single-family home prices reaching a record-high 543,058.
Average single-family home prices in metro-Denver- $543,058
Median single-family home prices in metro-Denver- $455,000
While overall inventory is seasonally up, it’s down compared to April of last year with the single-family segment being the primary contributor. The condo market is hitting its stride, as more homebuyers look for affordable options.
The year-to-date average sold price hit $517,395 for the single-family home market, up 11.2 percent from last year, with the median sold price at $439,828, up 9.96 percent. The condo market continues to outperform the single-family market with the year-to-date average sold price of $348,951, representing a 13.52 percent increase over 2017. The median price of condos sold also increased by 14.34 percent to $295,000.
Year to date, a record number of 586 homes priced over $1 million have sold, up 36.28 percent over last year, with a combined sales volume of nearly $892 million, up 37 percent over 2017. For comparison, at this point in 2014, only 200 homes priced over $1 million had sold.
Full Article Originally Printed https://www.dmarealtors.com/dmar-real-estate-market-trends-report-may-18
The DMAR Market Trends Committee releases reports monthly, highlighting important trends and market activity emerging across the Denver metropolitan area. Reports include data for Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson and Park counties. Data for the report was sourced from REcolorado® and interpreted by DMAR.
Keep your deck or patio looking as good as new by following some simple steps — and avoiding time-consuming mistakes.
Trisha and Dennis Rawlings, a couple in their early 30s, are moving to suburban Chicago and leaving their over-60-year-old first home in the St. Louis area behind.
“We were looking at potentially buying a house,” Trisha says. But in the area where they want to live, the options within their budget were limited to purchasing an older home or building a new one.
The couple loved the features of a modern, new-construction neighborhood with a pool, a clubhouse and excellent walkability. And taking out a construction loan and building a house means they’ll avoid the ongoing maintenance that comes with an older home.
With the supply of existing homes available to buy at “an all-time low” nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers like the Rawlingses and others — including younger buyers — are looking at other options that include building a house. Here’s how to get started if you decide to build a home.
» MORE: How much home can you afford?
Finding a construction loan
“It all starts with your ability to be financed and what kind of budget can you establish from there,” says Dan Moralez, regional vice president for Northpointe Bank in Holland, Michigan. “You don’t want to be sold something by somebody and then the next thing you find out is that you don’t qualify.”
But not every mortgage banker or broker offers construction loans.
“Most mortgage people will go their whole career without ever doing one,” says Jerry Thomas, a mortgage loan officer in Farmington Hills, Michigan. “Another big group of (lenders) will do one and then swear they’ll never do another one again.”
There’s no easy way to find a construction lender. Ask for referrals from friends and family. Builders often have lenders they recommend.
Locking in the land
Getting a place to build a house is a major part of the homebuilding process.
“You don’t have to own the lot free and clear,” Moralez says. However, any equity you have in the land can be applied toward a down payment and closing costs.
Moralez says he has clients who want to “lock in a piece of dirt” so they can build on it in a year or so. Unfortunately, he says, the number of lenders who finance vacant land is significantly smaller than the number of lenders who will do a construction loan.
Buyers who are planning to finance the cost of the land and home construction simultaneously will need to keep this in mind when searching for a lender.
Qualifying and the down payment
It’s harder to qualify for a construction loan than for a typical purchase mortgage, Moralez and Thomas say. That’s because the bank is taking extra risk during the building phase, since there isn’t an asset to secure the mortgage.
Typical down payments are around 10%. Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture mortgage programs back construction loans and can allow some credit leniency, along with low — or no — down payments.
“If you can put 20% down and you have a 720 credit score or better, you know you’re pretty much going to qualify for everybody’s program,” Thomas says.
» MORE: Best lenders for FHA loans
Using a builder or DIY
There are two kinds of builders: custom builders and “production builders,” who construct a high volume of similar homes and work for maximum efficiency. If your house plan includes many special or unique features, look for a custom builder, since they specialize in building to meet client expectations, Moralez says.
Want to build your own home?
“More and more often, we’re saying no,” Moralez says. “Most lenders will not do a self-build project.” He says the few exceptions go to borrowers with relevant trade experience.
Moralez says borrowers who think they can save money contracting out the work themselves may be in for a disappointment. With the housing industry facing a shortage of skilled labor, you’ll likely pay more for workers than a high-volume contractor would.
Also, construction loans for a do-it-yourself project typically require higher credit scores and larger down payments. Terms and qualifications vary by lender.
Staying within a budget
Cost overruns are the biggest danger you could face when building a home, Moralez says. A builder’s bid sets cost allowances for lighting fixtures, flooring, countertops and other major features. An upgrade here or there can bust the budget, and you’ll have to make up the difference in cash, he says.
Research the costs of the materials upfront to help avoid making significant and expensive modifications along the way.
The article How to Buy a House That Hasn’t Been Built Yet originally appeared on NerdWallet.