Wednesday, September 26, 2012

4 Renovation and Remodeling Myths

If you're getting the itch to do a remodel or renovation, understand that it might not bring the return you're looking for down the road.  Now, if you've just bought your home and plan to stay there long term, make it exactly what you want, and revisit the remodel situation just before you sell.  Understanding the traps early on will help you avoid a big mess when you go to sell:

Myth 1:  Focus on Improving Interior Spaces
If you've ever heard the term "curb appeal" you know that the exterior of a home makes the first impression.  Focusing too much on interior projects might leave little time, effort and attention to the yard, which could backfire.  On real estate listings, a photo of the exterior of the home is usually first, which could mean if the exterior is bad, it'll get passed right over.  On top of that, lack of attention to the front yard could lead buyers to believe you're trying to impress them with smoke and mirrors on the inside...

Myth 2:  All Remodeling Projects Add Value
You can never assume that your project will add value to your home, especially if your project doesn't fit within your neighborhood or doesn't appeal to a wide variety of buyers.  Maybe you've decided to turn garage space into living space - most buyers love the benefits of having a warm garage with some extra storage, so you might have over-improved yourself out of a possible buyer.  If you're thinking of doing a "unique addition" such as a steam room, pool, wine cellar, etc. it might be best to check with a real estate professional to see if buyers are looking for those features.  If not, there is money better spent elsewhere. 

Myth 3:  High End Finished and Materials Appeal to the Majority of Buyers
What myth #2 didn't cover is what this myth does - higher-end finishes doesn't mean that it will prove valuable to all buyers.  Make sure your improved finishes are in line with the rest of the neighborhood.  On top of that, understand that some buyers will be much more cost conscious, and less prone to see the value in higher-end finishes.  They could look over your home and choose a more reasonable home, with a more realistic price tag.

Myth 4:  Doing it Yourself Gets the Biggest Return
I feel this is the biggest myth of all, and I have seen some of the worst examples of this myth backfire on sellers.  Do you know how to expertly finish a basement?  Do you know how to expertly finish drywall?  Do you know when your mechanical upgrades and electrical upgrades need to be permitted?  I have walked into more "do it yourself" basement finishes, and I have to tell you, they were rough.  If you can't expertly do the job, DON'T.  Rather than adding value, buyers see dollar signs of what they'll have to spend to make it look right, bring it up to code, or finish correctly.  There are plenty of things you can do yourself, but don't trick yourself into believing you can do it all.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, match the style, era, and upgrades seen in the rest of your neighborhood.  Don't overdo it, because you'll either price out certain buyers, leave them scratching their heads, or be the most expensive home in the neighborhood - sticking out like a sore thumb.  My biggest suggestion is to have your realtor show you a few homes around the neighborhood before you begin your remodel project.  Who knows, you might even get some good ideas when you see what they've done.  On top of that, you might see some issues to avoid or how you could do the projects better.  Good luck!

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at or email him at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The 6 "S's" of Home Site Selection

If your realtor hasn't mentioned the incoming boom of new construction yet, be prepared.  Over the past several years, builders have been on the sidelines, waiting to get back in the lucrative game of building quality new construction.  In Northern Colorado, we have been very under-built, meaning that the majority of the home sales have come from existing homes, not new builds.  We have a pent up demand for homes, and new construction is going to have to fill it. 

So, if a brand new home is on the horizon for you, how do you pick a site?  Keep in mind there are a couple different situations in which you'd be selecting a new home site.  Either your new home site will be in a planned neighborhood, with permitted lots, or, you'll find a nice plot of land on your own to build a custom home.  These tips can apply for both situation, however, if you're in a planned neighborhood, chances are the majority of your options are out of your control.  With a planned neighborhood, you get to select the best lot that is available, but there is little else you can select - keep this in mind.  As with all home selection ideas, begin with the end in mind.  Know exactly how you want to enjoy the home.

When selecting your home site, the elevation change and terrain play a big part in your decision.  Do you want a walk out basement or maybe a pool?  The slope will play a huge role in either.  On top of that, if there is a big elevation change on your site, it could affect the style home you select and the amount of stories.

Within a planned neighborhood, location is one of the most valuable considerations.  Great locations within a neighborhood are typically being near a park, on a corner lot, or being off a main street.  Corner lots are usually touted as being valuable, due to lack of neighbors, where as end of cul-de-sacs have the advantages of being quiet and more secluded.

Setting, Situation, and Sun
The orientation of your home within your lot can save you a lot of money and make your home feel more open and bright.  Nobody wants to live in a cold, dark home.  In Colorado, it makes sense to have some nice southern exposure for extra heat in the winter time.  Situating your home on the site can also save money on heating and utility bills.  Get the best view of the mountains as possible, but skew it correctly to avoid the blazing heat of direct western exposure.  The correct setting will give you sun and shade right where you need it, for either gardening or summer backyard entertaining. 

Your lot's shape plays a big role in your site selection as well.  In certain neighborhoods, shape will affect the size of your home's footprint.  On top of that, an irregular shape could leave you with a big chunk of un-usable space in your yard.  Understand what is most important to you, whether you need some significant depth, or maybe just some space between your neighbors.

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at or email him at

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are Open Houses Still Relevant?

In the not so distant past, open houses were a coveted piece of the real estate puzzle.  Back before the internet or even color pictures in the newspaper, open houses served a very valuable purpose.  Back then, it might have been the only opportunity for people to actually see your home.  One grainy black and white picture in the newspaper was never enough to make a sale -  folks needed to engage all five senses while in your home to really understand if it would be a place they could see themselves living in.  Outside of broker/agent showings, open houses were one of the most valuable tools to get your home sold.  Have things changed?

My opinion is yes, things have changed, but open houses still do serve a valuable purpose in today's real estate world.  With the advent of the internet, searching through homes has never been easier.  Most multiple listing services allow for up to 25 photos, so it's quite easy to get a grip on the condition and style of a particular home.  Virtual tours and YouTube videos literally place you within the home, so the question is, are open houses useful anymore?  Of course they are, but not in the way you might expect.

You may want to sit down for this, because it might come as a shock...ready?  CHANCES ARE YOU WILL NOT SELL YOUR HOME DURING AN OPEN HOUSE.  Shocking as that may be, it's true.  Statistics from the National Association of Realtors show that only about 3% of homes are sold because of an open house.  Although this might sound like a waste of time and money, let me describe how you can benefit from an open house and why it's still a great tool to use.

A home not might not sell because of an open house, but it's my opinion that open houses will lead to a sale in several tangible ways.
  • Increased Awareness - Just because your home might not sell at an open house doesn't mean people aren't noticing your home.  Your Realtor will likely have directional signs and some may even have streamers, flags and balloons drawing attention to your home.  Although someone might not come in for the open house, they're aware of your home, and might stop in for a showing within the next week.
  • Increased Feedback - While holding your home open, your Realtor will typically try to draw as much feedback as possible from those who come through.  Although these folks might not buy your house, their feedback is incredibly valuable.  Maybe they perceive the price to be a little high.  Maybe the home is lacking curb appeal or perhaps the color of the carpet is off-putting.  If there is repeated and resounding feedback, make a change.  This will lead to a sale.
  • Neighborhood Interest - It's my experience that a hefty portion of folks coming through your open house might just be interested neighbors or folks from the neighborhood who happened to be walking by.  They want to compare your home to theirs.  They want to know the price.  Neighbors are a gold mine for feedback, some may have the same floor plan and may make comments.  On top of that, these folks might have someone in mind, a friend or family member, who might be looking for a home.  If it impresses a neighbor, chances are you might have some follow up showings from people they know too.
Open houses aren't a thing of the past - they just need to be utilized differently.  You can't expect someone to come in with a contract in hand, unless you have an under-priced home in a super-hot market.  Think of open houses as just another tool to expose your home and create awareness, manage your expectations and a sale will come!

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at or email him at

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Buying With Your College Student

College is back in full swing, and if you've done the whole college thing, you know just how great it is to get out of the dorms and into "your own place".  Chances are however, your own place is a beatdown rental with a few friends and a crabby landlord.  Is there a better way?  Of course there is, if you have a little foresight and the right strategy.  It's called a kiddie condo, or more specifically, a home parents buy along with their student.

It can really be any piece of property; a condo, townhome, detached home or apartment.  Where you can gain the most benefit from is purchasing with your student on the lease and the title, here's why.

1)  Better Interest Rates
If you were just buying a home for your son or daughter and their friends to live in during the college years, and have them pay you rent, technically you would not be occupying the residence.  That being said, your property is classified as an investment, rather than owner occupied.  Investment homes typically carry a higher interest rate than owner occupied, typically .375% to .5% higher.  That can really add up over a 30 year term.  Getting your student on the title and loan will keep it in "owner occupied" status, which will lock in that better interest rate, even if you charge rent for a few roommates.

2)  Building Credit
Let's face it, good credit can be tough to come by with college students.  Some get buried in debt, either consumer debt or student loans, and have to spend the majority of their twenties digging themselves out.  Credit is not easy to build with bad debt, so keeping your student on the loan and title of their college condo could be the best thing to help establish good, reliable credit.  Once they're done with school they'll be off to a great start with great credit.

3) Tax Advantages
Just like getting better interest rates, having an owner occupied home has tax advantages at the eventual sale.  Primary residences are exempt from taxes (up to $250k single/$500k married).  What that means for you is if the home appreciates, you and your student will be free from paying taxes on the gains, which wouldn't be the case if you had purhcased as an investment.  Maybe as a graduation gift, the student could use that gain on a downpayment of their very own home, or at lease backpack around Europe for a few months...

These are just a few advantages of getting your sophomore on the title when it comes times to get out of the dorms.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me!

Jared Reimer is a real estate broker with Prudential Rocky Mountain Realtors in Northern Colorado.  Real estate is his passion and he always wants to connect with like-minded and savvy real estate fans.  For more information or to get in touch with Jared, please visit his website at or email him at