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As I sit here and edit the little addendum I can hardly believe how our prices in Denver have increased and interest rates have too! And then there is a couple I am working with to try and find a home who have been here for 6 months “waiting” and they have found that very thing…prices in the 300 to 400k range have increased by about 7% and interest rates have gone up too, making it harder to afford a home they “could learn to love”. It is a hard lesson when the right house disappears from under you because someone acted faster than you and that is a regular part of the orientation into the Denver market I do for buyers. And sellers start to wonder when their home is not sold in 5 days! What a crazy market here in Denver!

An economist responded when asked how interest rates would change: “They may fall some and then, rise and after that, they’ll fluctuate.”

Just because interest rates have been low for ten years doesn’t mean they are supposed to be low. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and are expected to go up twice more plus three times next year. Mortgage rates have risen from 3.95% to 4.62% since the first of January.

Increased rates directly affect the payments on homes but so does the price. With inventory levels remaining low, the prices will continue to go up. When interest rates and prices rise at the same time, it costs buyers a lot more.

If the mortgage rates go up by one percent and prices increase by five percent in the next year, the payment on a $250,000 home could go up by $200 a month. In a seven-year period, the buyer would pay $18,000 more for the home.

People planning to buy a home, need to investigate the possibilities of accelerating their timetable to take advantage of lower rates and prices. Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to see how much more it could cost you to wait. Call (303) 880-5585 if you have questions about what can be done now. Or contact me.

The post Denver…Waiting Will Cost More appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Many folks who live in Highlands Ranch have 2nd homes in the mountains. Some are fishing cabins while others are condos for ski weekends, or you might find a true replacement residence. The truth is that some of the tax law changes form last year might affect those home owners in Highlands Ranch. So read on…

A principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, but they have some key tax differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used mainly for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.

Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is reduced from a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt to a maximum of $750,000 combined acquisition debt for both the first and second homes.

Property taxes on first and second homes are deductible but limited to a combined maximum of $10,000 together with other state and local taxes paid.

The gain on a principal residence retained the exclusion of $250,000/$500,000 for single/married taxpayers meeting the requirements. Unchanged by the new tax law, the gains on second homes must be recognized when sold or disposed.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for property used for personal purposes such as second homes. Gain on second homes owned for more than 12 months is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate.

This article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.

Should you need a good Highlands Ranch CPA or tax adviser, contact me. I can put you in touch. OR, if you want to buy that mountain getaway, let me know that too, as I know quite a few good mountain Realtors.

The post The Tax Difference in Second Homes appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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How many times I have addressed this issue when marketing a home for sale here in Denver I cannot say. In the old days neighbors would band together to water and mow the front yards of abandoned, or even properties that were in foreclosure. Some folks do run into financial issues, and my experience here in Denver has been 2 fold: a. they appreciate the help or b. they bury their heads even further hoping things will fix themselves. Either way, a neighborly offer of help may be the most appropriate way of approaching the folks involved. You might even find they could use help from someone like myself (introductions appreciated).

A home that isn’t being maintained like others in the neighborhood can negatively affect your visual sense of appeal and in some extreme cases, even affect property values. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, excessive noise, unruly pets, paint peeling on the home or even a car or boat parked in front of the home that hasn’t moved in weeks.

Most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct an issue once it is brought to their attention. A practical but possibly, confrontational solution is to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the issue. However, they may not always agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

An owner-occupant may be more sympathetic to the neighbors and willing to correct the issue. If you think the home might be a rental property, check with the county tax records or me, to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and welcome the notification to protect their investment.

Another alternative might be to notify the homeowner’s association, if there is one. One of the benefits of a HOA is to enforce community appearance standards as set in the covenants or bylaws that specify how properties must be maintained. This could be a less personal method of reaching a beneficial outcome.

If the source of the problem is a code or housing violation, the city may be the ultimate authority. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.

Talk to your neighbor first! We had a barking dog out back and she barked well into the early morning hours in our quiet suburban neighborhood of Denver. The past 5 years there was nothing like this from the dog but my blood was boiling! When I called I had calmed down and the neighbor explained his son had fallen off a roof, broken his neck, and they had been spending their days and nights at the hospital, never thinking about the dog. They apologized and I almost ate my hat!a So before you turn them in to the authorities here in Denver, or any other part of the world, be neighborly and talk to them first.

The post When Neighbors Don’t Seem to Care appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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As we drive around Highlands Ranch, have you ever noticed American flags being disrespected? I know I am at fault sometimes as I leave mine out overnight without a light being directed towards it. How about you?

The American flag is obviously a symbol of our country but it has come to remind us of every man and woman who has fought for the freedom that we enjoy. The emotions that are stirred by images of our flag can run from happiness to sadness to trust and everything in between.

Most of us learned American flag etiquette or the Flag Code when we were young but occasionally, it is a good idea to review the guidelines so that the flag is treated with the respect it deserves.

  • The U.S. flag should not be flown at night unless a light is shown on it.
  • The U.S. flag should not be flown upside down except as a distress signal.
  • The flag should never touch the ground.
  • A U.S. flag should be displayed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff in mourning.
  • When displaying multiple flags of a state, community or society on the same flagpole, the U.S. flag must always be on top.
  • When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. No flag should be higher or larger than the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
  • When the U.S. flag is flown with those of other countries, each flag should be the same size and must be on separate poles of the same height. Ideally, the flags should be raised and lowered simultaneously.

More information on flag etiquette can be found at the Veterans of Foreign Wars website.

As you drive around Highlands Ranch or other parts of Denver and you see a flag, think of those who gave all for us. Then think about how you display our American flag.

The post Flag Protocol appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Sorry to say this happens all the time in Denver…”my place is worth more than that!” So we list it higher than market, get 50 showings and sell it for $5k less than the original recommendation. My job is to get you the highest price we can for that Denver area home, not to low-ball it to make it easy. But you need to trust that. And the only way you can truly trust someone is by looking into their eyes and seeing their commitment to you. A first place to go is my “standards” page. A bit old school, but I do my best to live it. Now read the story…

Imagine a homeowner consulting with their agent about the price to place on their home. The agent suggests that the market data indicates that $200,000 to 210,000 would produce a quick sale by pricing it properly. The owner puts a $210,000 price on the home.

The first person who looks at the home offers $205,000. When the seller receives the offer, he comments that he thinks he priced the home too low and counters for full price. The counter-offer is rejected, the home stays on the market and at the end of the first month when based on market conditions, the home should be sold, no other offers have been made.

It may be human nature that when an offer is received so quickly, the first thought to come to mind is that it was priced too low. A more appropriate thought might be that it was priced correctly. In some cases, when a home comes on the market, there is increased competition (real or perceived) among the buyers waiting for the “right” home to come on the market. The home can sell for a higher price than if it sits on the market for several months.

There may be stories of sellers who turned down the first offer and ended up receiving a better offer that would net more money. However, real estate professionals say the first scenario occurs frequently.

The wisdom of experience advises owners to find a real estate professional that they trust and have confidence. Allow that professional to become familiar with your home and compare it to similar homes in the market that have sold recently and ones currently on the market. Determine the demand for homes in the area compared to the inventory. Decide on a price that will allow the home to sell within a relatively short period of time. And lastly, be satisfied if your home sells quickly near the price you put on it.

Of course you can free to contact me about your Denver home’s value.

The post Second Guessing Price appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Most folks I talk to here in Denver seem to be afraid of a bubble bursting as it did in 2008. Statistically, that started in 2006, and some of us started to notice that early. I am asked about when prices will start to fall… that answer is when we see over 180 days on the market average for 2 straight months. Right now the average is 32 days on market while the median is only 6 days on market. So it does not look like things will change anytime soon. What is the difference between average and median? The average sale price in Denver in April was $484,795 while the median was $451,311.

Prices continue to move up at a quick pace indicating that if there is a move planned in the next 2-3 years, you should do it now to take advantage of the prices on the new place. It will not be cheaper in 2 years. Statistics and history show a traditional appreciation rate in Denver of 3 to 6%. At that rate a $400,000 home will be over $475,000 in 3 years in the 7 counties that make up metro Denver.

Now lets talk about retirement housing. For those who do not know I am a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and can help most folks with the issues they are facing. But read on….

As people near or enter retirement, one of the decisions that typically comes up is whether to sell their “big” home and buy a smaller one. If you know anyone who has been faced with that situation, selling one home and buying a smaller one may not save enough money to make it worthwhile.

There are sales expenses on the property being sold and acquisition costs on the replacement home. Generally speaking, homeowners may not mind a home with less square footage, but they usually don’t want to give up amenities or locations that they’ve become accustomed.

After a little number crunching, the move may not make enough difference in savings and they end up staying in their current home even if it doesn’t fit their needs anymore.

What if while this couple were still in their peak earning years, they acquired a home in an area where they would consider retiring and rent it during the interim. They could put it on a 15-year mortgage and possibly, even accelerate the principal payments to have it paid off by their anticipated move.

In the meantime, they could continue living in the “big” home until it is time to make the transition. Sell the “big” home that may be paid for by then and avoid up to $500,000 of capital gain. Take part of the proceeds and remodel the rental/transitional home and invest the proceeds for retirement income.

Ideally, the former rental would be mortgage free by this point, so the retirees would not have a house payment. Even if at this point, they changed their mind about retiring to this particular home, they still have a property that acted as a hedge against rising prices and have sufficient equity to purchase something else without using the proceeds from the “big” home.

It is difficult to know what the situation will be years from now when a person retires. It is clearly advantageous to have a plan that allows for options and choices. To find out more about purchasing your retirement home today, give me a call at (303) 880-5585. Or reach out and contact me via e-mail.

The post A Denver Home for Tomorrow appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Loan Assumptions Are Hard to Find, especially in Highlands Ranch …

Hard to believe but there are still good assumable mortgages out there in Denver, if you have the cash to make up the difference, or know a good loan officer. I actually know of one coming up in Highlands Ranch, and it will require about $100k to assume. You have to qualify with credit income and cause the liability to be released, but it is a nice interest rate. But read on…

For the last 25 years, most buyers have gotten a new mortgage or paid cash when purchasing a home. For a practical reason, owner-occupant buyers have another alternative: assuming a lower interest rate existing FHA or VA mortgage.

In the late 80’s, both FHA and VA began requiring buyers to qualify to assume their mortgages. Prior to that, good credit or even a job wasn’t required. The real reason there haven’t been significant numbers of assumptions in the past 25 years is that interest rates have been steadily going down. If a person had to qualify, they might as well do it on a new loan and get a lower interest rate.

Even though mortgage money is currently attractive and available, it is at a four-year high. When interest rates on new mortgages are higher than the rates of assumable FHA and VA mortgages originated in the recent past, it may be more advantageous to assume the existing mortgages. Conventional loans have due on sale clauses that prevent them from being assumed at the existing rate.

FHA loans that originated with lower than current interest rates have great advantages for buyers and sellers.

  1. Interest rate won’t change for qualified buyer
  2. Lower interest rate means lower payments
  3. Lower closing costs than originating a new mortgage
  4. Easier to qualify for an assumption than a new loan
  5. Lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher ones
  6. Equity grows faster because loan is further along the amortization schedule
  7. Assumable mortgage could make the home more marketable

This financing alternative can save money for the buyer in closing costs and monthly payments. While the equity may be more than the down payment on a new mortgage, second mortgages are available to make up the difference. Call us at (303) 880-5585 to find out if this may be an option for you.

And of course you can contact me here for more information about the Highlands Ranch real estate market.

The post Assumptions May be an Alternative appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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What a great opportunity for Denver Home owners! Especially with the appreciation we have experienced over the last 5 years. When the tax laws changed last year I know I was excited that this part of the law did not change and that means we can keep our equity, tax free. Then you must ask, what is the cost of waiting? So as we have had close to 8% per year appreciation in Denver for 3 years that means a $300,000  3 years ago would be worth about $378,000 today. And all of that is tax free for a principle residence ( it also equals about $65 per day in waiting cost). But read on about the tax law…

Homeowners are familiar that they can deduct the interest and property taxes from their income tax returns. They also understand that there is a substantial capital gains exclusion for qualified sales of up to $250,000 if single and $500,000 for married filing jointly. However, ongoing recordkeeping tends to be overlooked.

New homeowners should get in the habit of keeping all receipts and paperwork for any improvements or repairs to the home. Existing homeowners need to be reminded as well, in case they have become lax in doing so.

These expenditures won’t necessarily benefit in the annual tax filing but may become valuable when it is time to sell the home because it raises the basis or cost of the home.

For instance, let’s say a single person buys a $350,000 home that appreciates at 6% a year. Twelve years from now, the home will be worth $700,000. $250,000 of the gain will be exempt with no taxes due but the other $100,000 will be taxed at long-term capital gains rate. At 15%, that would be $15,000 in taxes due.

Assume during the time the home was owned that a variety of improvements totaling $100,000 had been made. The adjusted basis in the home would be $450,000 and the gain would only be $250,000. No capital gains tax would be due.

Some repairs may not qualify as improvements but if the homeowner has receipts for all the money spent on the home, the tax preparer can decide at the time of sale. Small dollar items can really add up to substantial amounts over many years of homeownership.

You can download a Homeowner’s Tax Worksheet that can help you with this recordkeeping. The important thing is to establish a habit of putting receipts for home expenditures in an envelope, so you’ll have it when you are ready to sell.

And of course contact me when you are ready to sell that Denver home and need some ideas about other “Silver Collar Cities”.

The post Overlooked Recordkeeping appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Certainly one of the tougher functions in a Denver Real Estate transaction is negotiating the inspection items. To some it seems as though the seller should do everything and yet in a highly focused seller’s market that is not likely. The replacement of a roof covering can often become a real issue especially when using the contractor that just knocked on your door. Why? Their workmen may or may not show up and the roof may not get installed on time! When you hire an experienced Realtor those items should be non issues….but it does happen to all of us. And the contractors I work with know that and are willing to get the job done on time, often waiting for their payment until closing. Now a remodeling project…read on…

The one experience that homeowners can agree upon after completing a remodeling project is that it costs more and takes longer than expected. It doesn’t really matter that you researched, planned, and received multiple bids, it will, invariably, cost more and take longer than you originally anticipated.

Replacing floorcovering or painting is a project that a homeowner can easily get bids and contract with the workmen directly. A new level of complexity occurs when the project involves more specialized contractors, like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, counters, and others.

Now, a homeowner is faced with dealing with one general contractor who will run roughshod over the sub-contractors or make the decision to do it themselves. Typically, you’ll pay more for a general contractor, but the trade-off is that they have the contacts and experience to make things go smoothly.

Subs are notorious for wanting to finish their “part” of the project and move onto to the next job. Sometimes, they’re not interested in the “big picture” enough to consider doing things in a way that are best for the overall outcome.

When you start tearing out some things, you find out that there may be unexpected expenses involved. Another common occurrence is that during the project, you get a new thought about changing something else “since it is already torn up anyway.” This will add time and money to the job.

There can be the situation that the homeowner doesn’t even know the right questions to ask or what to consider when trying to coordinate the different workers. The most detailed timetable can be thrown off track if one set of workers don’t show up or finish on time. At best, it delays the project for a few days. At worst, it can delay it for a few weeks because the individual workers may have committed to other jobs that don’t allow them to reschedule.

Once the work is done in a professional manner, you’re probably going to live with it for years. If it is something you’ve wanted to do and it will allow you to enjoy your home more, it is worth doing. Just be patient and enter this adventure with the understanding that it will cost more and take longer than you expect.

When you have a re-model project here in Denver you are anticipating, or you are just putting in new carpet, make sure to contact me for reliable (not always perfect) contractors for the job. Your Denver Real Estate broker, with any length of experience, should have good contractors that will respond to him and his clients in a timely and professional manner.

The post Costs More – Takes Longer – Denver Real Estate appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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Recently I took a 2 day certification class for the designation of Senior Real Estate Specialist here in Denver. I found there was much I had already learned in 32 plus years but there was a lot that I did not know. Certainly the below is a unique view of how some folks approach retirement. Denver is wonderful city to retire in, because it is a Silver Collar city and has a pretty good climate. Many folks like warmer climes, so read on for more enlightening information…

A couple is planning to tour the United States in a travel trailer during their first few years of retirement. They are going to sell their current home now and purchase another home when they finish their travels.

An interesting exercise is to determine the optimum time of selling the home: now or when they’re ready to buy their replacement home.

If they intend on traveling for more than three years, then, it may be a good decision to sell prior to the sojourn to avoid paying taxes on the gain in their home. IRS allows for a temporary rental of a principal residence while still keeping the $250,000/$500,000 capital gains exclusion intact. A homeowner must own and use a home for three out of the previous five years which means that it could be rented for up to three years, but it would need to be sold and closed before that three-year window expires.

If the travel will be less than three years, there is an option of selling now or later. Using the example below, the homeowner sold the home, paid their expenses and invested the proceeds in a three-year certificate of deposit until the replacement home was purchased.


As an alternative, if the homeowner rented the home, not only would they have income, the home would continue to appreciate and the unpaid balance would go down resulting in larger net proceeds. Based on a 5% appreciation and continued amortization of the mortgage, the net proceeds could easily be $40,000 more.


Obviously, there are a lot of considerations that affect the decision to sell now or later but in an appreciating real estate environment, being without a home for several years could affect the financial position of the owner in the replacement property. It is certainly reasonable to look at various alternatives before making a decision. Call me at (303) 880-5585 to help you look at the different possibilities and talk to your tax professional.

And you can contact me for any real estate need here in Denver or across the US.

The post Case Study – Housing Decision During Retirement appeared first on Denver Realtor Blog.

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