Joe Boylan

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How To Save For A Down Payment On A House – There’s an App for That

While homeownership has long been a central part of the American Dream, these days, it’s an ambition that’s becoming increasingly out of reach for many. Saving for a down payment creates a barrier to homeownership for many.

Following the financial crisis of 2007-08, many prospective first-time home buyers today are facing tremendous hurdles. The rising cost of living, including increasing rents, along with stagnant wage growth and mounting student loan debt means that today, many would-be homebuyers are struggling to make it all happen. In fact, when looking at the steps to buying a house, just saving for the down payment alone can be challenging –with 53% of renters stating that a down payment was the primary obstacle keeping them from buying a home.

But one company is working hard to make homeownership more accessible –by opening up new avenues for prospective homebuyers to source funding.

Mortgage lender CMG Financial is the company behind these projects. Their division called HomeFundIt has been tasked with the job of coming up with new and creative ways to help people save up funds for their future home. This division was launched a year ago as a crowdfunding platform to allow would-be homeowners to run campaigns to generate funds for a down payment.

More recently –in early December, HomeFundIt announced the launch of UpIt –a cash-back feature for its crowdfunding platform, in a move to help people raise funds even faster. This app is designed to allow shoppers to apply a percentage of their shopping bill to a HomeFundIt account, helping prospective homeowners to grow their down payment funds even more quickly.

How does it work? Simple. In order to launch UpIt, homebuyers must first sign up for a HomeFundIt account and create a campaign page. Once their campaign is up and running, a network of shoppers can then contribute to their campaign by selecting a retail partner from the UpIt store and making a purchase. As long as purchases are made through the platform, anyone can set up a fund –and UpIt funds can be mixed with money from a crowdfunding effort, or used as a standalone source.

“HomeFundIt was founded on the principle that ‘buying a home is a community event,’” explained Founder, President, and CEO of CMG Financial, Christopher M. George in a statement. “UpIt brings that idea to the next level by creating another innovative pathway to homeownership. Shoppers can support the campaigns of friends and family or choose to support campaigns they find compelling,”

Currently, UpIt has partnered with a myriad of well-known retailers far and wide including Expedia, Walgreens, Overstock.com, GAP, and more. A list of current UpIt partners is available here –with new names continually being added. And while the percentage rate varies from retailer to retailer, shoppers could see percentages going into their UpIt funds that are as high as 3% –although rates of around 5% and 10% are a lot more common.

While HomeFundIt funds that are collected through the crowdfunding platform are good only for a year, the proceeds from UpIt –reportedly won’t expire. This means that this program could provide some exciting possibilities for anyone who may be planning long-term.

“If you have a kid, you essentially could set them up with a home savings account,” says HomeFundIt’s Paul Akinmade. “By the time they’re done with school and are ready to lay down roots, they’ll have those funds readily available to become a homeowner.”

For both prospective homeowners and parents who’d like to sock away some funds for their child’s future –this program could be worth looking into. Even if the contributions aren’t enough for them to buy their dream house outright, they could still be enough to help them afford the down payment –and qualify for a mortgage, giving them a chance to get their feet on the housing ladder.

For any first-time buyer, saving for a down payment can seem impossible. But there’s a number of ways to make saving up easier –putting homeownership within your reach.

Here are a few tips for saving up now:

  • Be Informed – Misinformation regarding down payments is prevalent, with first-time buyers often drastically overestimating their down payment, or conversely, underestimating it. My advice is to make sure you’re clear on what you’ll be paying, and then start working towards your goal. Take a look at homes that are for sale in the area that you’re hoping to buy –and talk to a local Realtor. Have a look at online mortgage calculators, and try to determine what you’ll be looking at for a down payment.
  • Know Your Options – While a 20% down payment is common, many banks allow less –with many first-time buyers qualifying for as little as 3% down. Just bear in mind that even a small down payment could still be costly. A 5% down payment on a $300,000 home is still $15,000.
  • Know Your Credit Score – In most cases, a good credit score can help you to qualify for a lower interest rate and down payment as well. It can take time to improve a low credit score, so if homeownership is in your future, you’ll want to start early to work on building yours up.
  • Start Saving Early – When it comes to saving for a down payment, your best option is to get started early. Consider automated savings plans, savings apps, or redirecting work bonuses into a separate savings account to help you reach your goal more quickly.
  • Research Assistance Programs – Federal, State, and Local – In addition to federal programs, there are many state programs available for first-time buyers as well. Benefits include closing cost assistance, tax credits, and more. You’ll also want to check to see if your municipality itself offers any assistance for first-time home buyers.

If you’re a first-time buyer who’d like to get on the housing ladder remember: there are programs and options available today that can help. Start by being informed –on housing prices, your credit score, and assistance programs –then get to work making a plan. With a clear goal, a savings plan, and even help from programs like UpIt, you’ll be able to make your homeownership dreams a reality sooner than you might think!

Here are some additional resources on saving for a down payment

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How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?

How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add? - PinterestFinishing the Basement: Does the value equal the cost?

How much value does a finished basement add to my home? Realtors struggle with this question all the time because homeowners love the idea of building equity.

While finishing the basement certainly adds to the value of a home, it’s not always as significant as you might think.

According to Remodeling Magazine, the national average for recouping basement finish or remodeling cost is 79%. While there are certain parts of the country that see a positive return on every dollar spent finishing a basement, that’s the exception, not the rule.

Here is a look at at a Job Cost vs. Resale Value done by Remodeler Magazine. This data is based on an identical level of finish and the return recouped on that job at the time of sale.

MarketJob CostResale ValueCost Recouped
National Average$43,112$33,91179%
Atlanta39,69030,00076
Boston49,38343,80289
Buffalo, N.Y.41,85414,10034
Chicago49,07145,42793
Cincinnati42,14730,45072
Cleveland45,72024,37253
Columbus, Ohio41,5279,07622
DallasNANANA
Denver39,62722,40757
Detroit44,27624,89756
HoustonNANANA
Indianapolis41,90222,00053
Kansas City41,68821,25051
Los Angeles metro47,83462,084130
Los Angeles48,13683,835174
Orange Cty, Calif.47,53240,33385
MiamiNANANA
Milwaukee44,78628,88364
Minneapolis48,10334,08371
New Orleans36,89330,79083
New York metro46,48342,42691
Passaic, N.J.47,80835,50074
Nassau-Suffolk, N.Y.48,66635,33373
Fairfield-New Haven, Conn.42,97556,446131
Norfolk, Va.33,61927,75083
Orlando, Fla.36,84526,18271
Philadelphia45,59334,79576
Phoenix39,85525,83365
Pittsburgh43,43333,25077
Portland, Ore.44,07232,66774
Providence, R.I.43,52925,20058
Sacramento, Calif.45,96735,00076
Salt Lake City37,29826,30071
St. Louis45,29127,16760
San Antonio37,93734,03290
San Diego45,80941,25090
San Francisco metro51,42868,659134
San Francisco51,42867,100130
Oakland, Calif.51,42870,217137
Seattle45,98136,31779
Tampa, Fla.35,14120,75059
Washington metro37,74330,60681
Washington, D.C.40,13347,667119
Baltimore38,04619,27651
Richmond, Va.35,05024,87571

(Courtesy Remodeling Magazine)

So on average every $1.00 spent on a basement remodel or finish will return $0.79 when you sell. This is not a great investment, but depending on your situation it might be an acceptable one.

Why Finish the Basement?

Many people choose to simply ride the wave of appreciation and never even look at finishing their basement as a way to gain equity in their home. If you know you are going to be selling your home within a few years, there are a couple of advantages to NOT finishing your basement.

The first benefit is that it keeps the price of your home lower than your competition with finished basements, appealing to a wider range of buyers. Additionally, home buyers love the idea of an unfinished basement, it represents an opportunity to create something without having to build an entire house.

How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?If you are going to finish your basement, it is important to have a clear purpose or reason for the project. There are three primary motivators for finishing a basement; Need, pleasure or resale.

Do you need extra living space for a growing family? Is your pleasure watching movies, sports or doing crafts? Are you looking to update and think the added finished space will increase the value of your home?

These are all good reasons to finish a basement, it’s just important to have a clear picture of why in order to help define the scope and cost.

What is the Cost of Finishing a Basement?

Below grade square footage is less expensive to finish than comparable above grade square footage. In general, the cost of finishing a basement is 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of adding a main floor addition. Much of the cost savings is realized because the existing foundation walls eliminate the need for exterior cladding, windows and much of the framing required for above grade square footage.

This makes the basement a perfect place to add square footage without breaking the bank. It is important though to keep the cost of your project in the appropriate relationship to the overall value of your property. In other words, don’t over improve your basement.

What is the Value of a Finished Basement?

You need to consider value before starting any basement finishing or remodeling project. At the end of the day, the value determined by the appraiser is what your home will ultimately sell for. Talk with an experienced Realtor before finalizing any plans for a basement finish or remodel.

Appraisers treat below-grade square footage differently than above-grade square footage. It’s important to note that appraisers don’t even count below grade square footage in the total square footage of your home for the purposes of the appraisal.

The Appraiser does give credit for below grade space, but at a lower value and with an eye on quality and functionality.

The appraised value of finished basement space is generally 50% to 60% of the value of the main level square footage. To maximize the cost/value ratio, the market experts recommend keeping the basement budget below 10% of the existing home’s value. Staying between 5-10% is a good plan.

Can You Increase the Value Ratio?

The job of appraising is always dependent on saleable features. But keep in mind the finished basement will never reach par with its main floor sibling. High-end finishes have little value if natural light and low ceilings make the space dark and crowded.

The more the basement resembles “normal” living space, the higher the relative value. Basements don’t necessarily need to be completely underground. Any portion of the basement that is above grade is actually valued at a higher rate than those portions below grade.

Why a Basement?

Let’s take a look at the different types of basements and some fundamental information about basements.

Basements are a popular type of foundation, especially in colder climates. The depth of the basement walls provides protection from frost to the foundational footers. Frost can crack and destroy footers and subsequently lead to serious foundation problems.

The minimum depth for frost mitigation is generally 36 inches below grade and in more extreme cases 42 inches. The 8 to 10-foot wall heights of a modern basement more than keep those footers safe and warm.

Different types of Basements:

There are essentially three types of basements. Full basement, Garden level basement, and walkout basement. The type of basement you end up with is dictated by the Contour of your building site.

Full basement – This is the most common type of basement. You will generally see this very flat Terrain. The wall Heights for this basement are the same all the way around. In other words, the entire basement is below grade, therefore, receiving a lower value on an appraisal.

Full Basement - How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?

This is a “Full Basement at foundation stage. Notice the wall heights are, for the most part even across the top of the basement walls.

Garden-level – This type of basement features some above grade square footage. Windows in this basement may be partially above grade. these basements receive more natural light and because some portion of the basement is above grade they are valued at a slightly higher rate than the full basement.

Walkout basement – As the name suggests this basement allows egress in and out of the lower level of the home. We generally see this Foundation type on a sloping lot. There are variations on the walkout basement, the doors can be on the side or the back of the house. because a large portion of this type of basement is above grade the walkout basement carries the highest dollar credit on the appraisal. Generally, these basements offer significant natural light and create options for enhanced outdoor living due to easy access to the backyard.

Walkout Basement - How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?

This is a “Walkout Basement” at the foundation stage. Notice how the foundation walls step down to match the grade of the lot. This creates a good deal of above grade square footage.

Concerns About Basements

There are certain concerns homeowners need to be aware of when it comes to basements. It’s important to keep in mind that your basement is for the most part underground. So, the primary concerns revolve around things like flooding from water and infiltration from gases like radon.

Flooding in the Basement

One of the biggest concerns we see about basements is flooding. Generally, flooding occurs in one of two ways: natural or man-made.

Let’s start with man-made since most of the plumbing for your home starts in the basement and most of the wastewater leaves your home for the basement, this concern is valid.

There are concerns about drain and sewer backups. it’s important when building your home or prior to finishing your basement to look at these systems and make sure there are fail-safe mechanisms in place to protect your investment.

Water heaters are another concern for flooding in basements. Cracked water heater tanks can create a real mess soaking carpets, baseboard and in some cases sheetrock. Once again your contractor can set up drain and pan systems to prevent this from happening.

Nature also presents some serious concerns for homeowners. Most modern homes with basements pay special attention to drainage around the foundation of the house. Proper grading and Swails are established in order to keep water away from the foundation.

If the home has a basement, there should also be a perimeter drain along the outside of the foundation walls and just below the slab. This drain is installed to move any water away from the foundations’ footers and out to the storm sewer.

In the event this doesn’t drain fast enough, the builder might install a sump pump. This pump sits in a pit below the perimeter drain and pumps water out and away from the foundation.

Radon in the Basement

Radon Testing - How Much Value Does a Finished Basement Add?

credit: megankhines

Radon is another concern for many when it comes to living in the basement. Radon is a colorless odorless gas that occurs as a byproduct of the breakdown of certain minerals. Radon according to the EPA, is the second biggest cause of lung cancer.

Testing for Radon is a very simple process and mitigating the gas from your basement living space is very common. So, if your test results come in above EPA acceptable levels it’s not the end of the world.

It’s important to note that Radon is a very controversial subject and there are a wide range of opinions as to its effect on humans. At the end of the day when it’s time to sell your home, it’s not your opinion that matters it’s the opinion of the buyer.

Given the cost and ease of installation of modern radon mitigation systems, it makes sense to add this to your basement before starting construction.

Planning

The planning stages of any basement project are where dollars are gained or lost. This is the time to seek help from professionals. Realtors know what sells and a good general contractor we’ll know what things cost. Use these types of professionals to make sure you don’t overbuild your basement or make it so highly personalized that you’ll have problems when you go to sell.

There are certain guidelines you’ll want to follow as you think about the process.

The Top Five Basement Trends

Trends come and go but the trend of a finished basement is becoming a norm. The following five trends illustrate the evolving role of the basement in everyday life.

The Open Floor Plan – The open concept has re-defined the family’s main living space for the last two decades. Now its popularity has migrated to the basement, making use of the natural expanse – maximizing the use of available light and air flow. Additions like a mini-kitchen or bar enhance the comfort and use.

The Main Living Extension – In years past, the finished basement was a land of experimentation. Bold colors, exotic décor, themed spaces and over-stuffed recliners have been replaced with the refinement and design found on the main level. Wider staircases create a visual invitation as well as a common connection.

The In-Law Suite – Bedrooms and a bathroom have long been a staple in the finished basement designed for a growing family. The allure of the master suite has migrated south. The convenience, amenities, and comfort of the en-suite bedroom is perfect for guests and visiting parents.

The “Specialized” Room – With the popularity of the open concept, specialized rooms have found their niche. The Media Room, the Musician’s Audio Room, the Workout Room or Craft Room all have their unique fan clubs. Each is specialized, and if true to their descriptor, will bear unique expenses. Word of advice – the more specialized the room, the more costly and the less likely the re-sale will match the dollar investment.

The Walkout – Although the walkout basement is a natural for a sloping site, more and more homeowners are investigating this possibility. The abundance of light streaming into an otherwise dark basement easily convinces many of the potential. Remember – a talented, experienced contractor should be the FIRST call!

Finishing a basement wisely and well can have as much as a 70% payback, making it one of the smartest re-modeling or new home extensions. As exciting as finishing a basement can be, remember this is a major construction project. A building permit is REQUIRED. Throughout the process, electrical, plumbing, energy, drywall hanging, framing, and windows are inspected to meet CODE.

Finally, when it is time to sell, it’s important to work with a Realtor that understands valuation and appraisal practices. When pricing your home the agent should use comparable sales. If these comparable sales have finished basements, adjustments need to be made plus or minus in order to account for any differences.

If your agent doesn’t know how to do this you should consider this a major red flag. Incorrectly pricing your home based off of finished basement square footage can become a real issue during the appraisal process. The appraisal occurs pretty far into the closing process and having to renegotiate the sales price at this point can cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.

Make sure you work with someone that understands how to Value basements across comparable sales.

Additional Resources:

If you have questions or help, remember Springs Homes is an experienced realtor with long earned relationships throughout the design and construction industries. Contact us at….719-388-4000 or online

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Brokers, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication - PinterestAn “IDX Broker” is a real estate professional that participates in the worlds largest real estate marketing network. “Broker Reciprocity” is the key to making this network successful.

In all fairness, it’s also the name of a service that distributes listing data to Brokers and real estate portals.

To understand how this complex network operates, we need to look back to the days when real estate print advertising was King!

Before the internet, real estate agents used print advertising to market their listings. This involved putting together ads for print media like newspapers and home magazines.

Print ads were expensive and putting them together took a lot of time. This resulted in agents making choices about which publications were most effective.

Another challenge of print advertising was the home sellers themselves. Home sellers expect aggressive marketing, the wider the reach the better. Home Sellers expected Agents to advertise in as many different publications as possible.

Print advertising was also frustrating because of the time it took to go from printing to the shelf. In most cases, it took weeks to get the magazines into the reader’s hands. This often meant the homes were under contract and were no longer for sale.

The Internet Created the IDX Broker

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationThe internet has changed the entire real estate advertising landscape. Agents can now advertise their listings to tens of thousands of websites globally.

The amazing thing is that this all takes place in minutes or hours, not days and weeks. The reliability of the data improved as well.

This dissemination happens because of a complex system of syndication and distribution channels.

The system was set up by the Real Estate industry itself. Local MLS’s and The “National Association of Realtors” established this system.

There are two types of end users that use this data. First, there are the large real estate portals like Realtor.com & Zillow. The second group consists of individual cooperation IDX or Broker Reciprocity websites.

It all starts with the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When an agent lists a property for sale, they have the option to syndicate that listing. If they choose yes, it becomes part of the feed. This simple act has become one of the most important aspects of the Steps to Selling a House.

Syndication

Syndication is the term used to describe the listing data sent to the big real estate portals. This would be sites like realtor.com, Zillow.com, homes.com and many more.

Think about syndication as a modern version of the old print advertising model. Instead of compiling and distributing ads for print magazines, it’s done online.

The other problem this system fixed was the scope of distribution. The home seller is now happy that their home is on every real estate website. The agent no longer has to choose where to advertise the property based on budget.

Broker Reciprocity or IDX

The second type of listing distribution method is IDX or Internet Data Exchange.

This method is often referred to as Broker Reciprocity. This is, in fact, a great description of how this concept works. Reciprocity is “The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit”.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationIDX is a listing data feed that gets distributed only to participating brokers. This arrangement allows participants to display other Brokers listings on own website.

There are strict rules about how the data must appear. But IDX allows Brokers and Agents to provide rich listing data to their clients.

One of the rules of IDX is that participants cannot opt out of which Broker sites their listings appear on. This rule ensures a level playing field for participants. Additionally, this provides the broadest advertising reach for all listings.

IDX allows the smaller real estate companies to provide the same listing data as the big portals. These smaller websites can’t go toe to toe with the massive portals like Zillow and Realtor. But having the same listing data gives them an opportunity to compete in different ways.

Agents have the advantage of being local and having local knowledge. Smart agents use local neighborhood information around the IDX data.

These agents provide connections between the IDX data and life in these neighborhoods. This is something the big portals can’t do…yet!

Here are some examples of Broker Reciprocity in action. These sites are from IDX Brokers around the nation:

Real Estate Portals

The biggest of the real estate websites are often called portals. These sites are a rich source of real estate information. This includes sites like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com.

Information on available Homes For Sale is the primary attraction of these sites. Like the IDX Brokers, Real Estate portals receive their data from local MLS syndication feeds as well. The Portals also have strict rules about how they can use this data.

The portals are commercial websites, they make money in many different ways. Some sell advertising, while many make money by selling leads to Real Estate agents. To get these leads, the consumer has to see these portals as authoritative and trustworthy. This means the data on these sites must be accurate. But accuracy is difficult to achieve in a fluid market, like residential real estate.

Evolution of The Data Feed

In the early days of syndication, the data on the portals was unreliable. Consumers complained that homes on these sites were often under contract or sold.

The problem with real estate data is that listings come and go on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. The original listing data feed came in full datasets. This required the sites to rebuild their databases daily to purge old data and stay current. These rebuilds took a long time and in the process, the status of a property could change.

A home, the potential buyer saw on a portal as available, could be under contract or off the market. The listing agent always needed to confirm the true status of the property for the consumer. Contacting the agent was usually what the consumer was trying to avoid in the first place.

Birth of RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard)

The real estate industry understood this needed to improve. So, in 1999 The National Association of Realtors launched RETS. RETS is a data framework used by the real estate industry to help with the exchange of real estate data.

RETS was a more dynamic platform designed for real estate data. It allowed for faster synchronization not a complete replacement of the listing data. This allowed both Brokers and Portals to refresh data throughout the day.

Full implementation of RETS was slow and this had a lot to do with the MLS systems themselves. MLS’s contract with big data systems providers. Much of what the MLS can do depends on their vendor’s capabilities. These vendors were slow to follow the RETS standards which affected the MLS systems as well.

NAR finally required the MLS’s make RETS available by the end of 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that we saw industry-wide adherence to RETS.

RETS was a significant improvement over the early methods of listing data syndication. But, with any good technology comes revisions and improvements and that’s what’s next.

The Sunsets on RETS

In 2018, Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) announced it plans to retire RETS. RESO Web API will be the new standard moving forward. According to RESO, “Web API” will move the real estate industry deeper into mobile and social applications.

The Web API will make its data calls in real time, this will make the listing data more accurate and reliable.

Mobile has become an essential tool for home buyers, it makes sense to focus efforts on this platform.

Syndication and Your Home

How does all this affect the homeowner? Well, in a very good way, especially if you can stand out.

In the days of print, the widest coverage went to the agent that spent the most on advertising. Syndication allows the listing agent to advertise on thousands of sites. Remember we are talking about the portals and IDX or Broker Reciprocity sites as well.

With so much listing data available to homebuyers, your home must stand out. This means, professional photos, video or virtual tour. It also helps to have the home staged before photos.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

Make Sure You Get Syndicated

Syndication is the new standard in the real estate industry for marketing listings. The process of getting your listing into syndication is actually quite easy. But, there are agents that don’t take part in this remarkable system.

Lack of participation is usually due to confusion about how the system works or how to get connected. If you are selling your house, make sure your realtor’s marketing includes syndication.

Getting involved is actually easy. Most MLS’s offer syndication as an option at the time and agent inputs a listing. In most cases, it’s as simple as checking a box. This method gets the listing into the system at a minimal presence.

The various portals have options and upgrades to enhance the status on their site. This requires contracting with each portal and of course paying more money. In some cases, this is a valuable upgrade. But, serious buyers are going to search out the best listings on each portal. Great photographs, video, and virtual tours seem to matter more than enhanced status.

Optimizing Your Exposure

There are close to 100 portals, and many of these portals have extended networks with 100’s of subsites. Keeping track of where to send your listing data can be daunting.

There are portals that specialize in unique property types. Catering to niche property types like farm and ranch, waterfront, income and more.

We have found that for us, the best way to stay on top of listing syndication is to use a tool like Listhub. Listhub is a syndication tool for the most popular real estate portals in the world.

The listing agent chooses the portals they want to receive their listing data. Turning on or off the feed based on whatever criteria are important to that particular agent.

Keeping track of what property goes where can be overwhelming. Trying to keep track of usernames, passwords, image sizes and more is a big job. Listhub is a tool we use that handles this for us.

Developed by “The Threewide Corporation”, Listhub launched in 2006. This was during the developmental stage of the RETS standard.

Move, Inc, the owners of Realtor.com acquired Listhub in 2010. This made Listhub the syndication tool for one of the largest real estate portals in the world. This is a company that understands syndication.

Some MLS’s Step Away From Syndication

There is a growing trend among MLS organizations to end syndication feeds. They say this decision is about giving Brokers the freedom to choose where their listings go.

As I mentioned earlier, the choice to syndicate a listing is as simple as checking a box. So opting out of syndication is a simple task for a Broker, un-check box. So, the choice argument seems weak.

If the purpose is to target only certain portals of the Brokers choosing, ListHub does a great job at that. So, eliminating that option makes no sense either. In truth, there are a host of opinions and reasons about this move away from MLS syndication.

The popular opinion is that big brokerages are squeezing the smaller companies.

Zillow is the biggest portal and they allow direct listing data feeds from big companies. These XML data feeds are expensive to set up and the company needs a lot of listings to qualify.

Smaller brokerages can’t afford the setup and rarely have enough listings to qualify. Since most home sellers demand their listing appear on Zillow, this puts the small company in a jam.

Eliminating the MLS syndication option appears to create an advantage for bigger companies.

If you’re asking yourself how this happens, it’s pretty simple. MLS Boards have directors and these directors are often members of big companies. This is a function of size, bigger companies have more agents, thus more interest in MLS politics. The attitude towards syndication is, I get it through my company, so let’s pull the plug. This saves money and enhances the status of big companies.

This is unfortunate for smaller brokerages but not catastrophic. If MLS’s step away from portal syndication, opportunities open up for other entities. There are a growing number of paths into the real estate portals.

Ancillary service providers like Website and IDX vendors can generate the XML feed. These companies send their clients listings to the portals eliminating the issue.

This works because the vendors have a financial motivation to help their clients. Smaller brokerages can sign up for the service and syndication becomes a bonus.

 

Popular Real Estate Portals

This is important because home sellers want their listings on the “Good Portals”.

This brings up the question, “what makes a portal good? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Home sellers tend to look for the widest net possible and the most visible. Realtors generally prefer to focus on the most effective portals in the space.

These are the portals that present the property in the best possible light and get the best results.

Of course, there are a few portals that are without a doubt required. We’re talking about the “Top 5” Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin and Homes.com

These five sites receive the lion’s share of traffic in the real estate space. If your home is on the market you need to have it on these fives sites.

IDX BrokerInformation provided by SimilarWeb.com.

This chart illustrates why it is important to have your for sale property on these sites. These sites are step one for home buyers in the steps to buying a house.

Inclusion here gets your home noticed and if it looks good, on the shortlist. Once a buyer puts a home on the shortlist, they tend to start more in-depth research on other sites. It’s during this research they start to reach out to Realtors for help.

This is the point buyers start to schedule private showings. Showings lead to offers, contracts, and closings. This process wouldn’t exist without the wide net of Broker Reciprocity and Syndication.

If you’re selling your home choose a broker that understands syndication and IDX. You should look for someone that has a good understanding of where your listing will go and how it gets there. You don’t want to hear, “Oh my office handles that”.

IDX and Broker Reciprocity constitute a powerful network for listing agents. Make sure you are using this tool effectively.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the WinterMost wouldn’t consider – or even think about – “selling a house in winter”. It’s too cold. There aren’t many people buying. Plus, who wants to move in the middle of a snowstorm? Exactly.

But surprisingly, winter has the potential to be a great time to sell your home. Selling your home in the winter is underestimated. Let us explain The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter.

1. Winter Buyers Are Serious and Motivated

The winter months filter out those wishy-washy-view-only prospects. You know those people. They might be interested, but they really aren’t sure. They don’t know what they want, so they’re just “looking,” You don’t get these people in the winter months.

Buyers in the winter months are serious, motivated, and ready to buy. Often, it’s because they have to. Maybe their current living situation abruptly changed or they had to move for a new job – whatever the case may be, they mean business. Their hunt for a new home is frequently urgent. They also may be pining after those tax breaks before the year ends.

2. January is Huge for Job Relocation

With the year-end comes a huge amount of people relocating for new jobs or positions. Consequently, they will need somewhere to live. Your home could be that place! Again, it comes back to more serious and motivated buyers. They need a place to live and are likely in some kind of temporary hotel room or housing until they find a place – which can be rough. They want to find a new home. And they likely want to find it as soon as possible.

3. Some Houses Show Better in the Winter

It’s true! If you aren’t great at keeping up with the summer maintenance of your yard, selling in the winter might be for you. With the snow, the only thing you have to worry about is shoveling and salting the driveway and walkways.

It’s further a great time to show off your heating system. Make your home look as cozy as possible. Show off how well it functions and how well it insulates during those cooler winter months. This will be a big bonus and big draw for potential buyers.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

4. You’ll Get Closer to Your Asking Price

Again, these buyers are more serious and are more urgent – which increases your chances of getting closer to your asking price. There aren’t that many options out there. The market inventory is much less. People can’t take as many risks when putting in an offer. And you’re more likely to actually get an offer on your home – whereas, during the competitive summer months, you could go the whole season without a single offer. Not ideal.

5. Fewer Homes on the Market = Less Competition

There are fewer people selling homes in the winter. Most people prime their homes and get ready to sell in the summer. And in the summer, the market is saturated. Potential buyers have possibly 30 plus homes to choose from. Yet, in the winter months, they might have only 5. Fewer options mean you have less competition. In fact, the inventory of homes falls almost 20% in some places during the fall to winter transition. It bumps up your chances of selling (And again, you’re more likely to get that price you want for your house).

6. You’ll Be Your Real Estate Agent’s Top Priority

In the summer months, your real estate agent might be stretched thin. Maybe it’s tough getting an appointment or perhaps you just don’t feel like your home is getting enough attention. This isn’t a problem in the winter.

Winter is technically their slow season. Real estate agents are looking for homes to sell. This means they’ll want to sell yours in the winter. Come summer, they’ll be loaded down with a bunch of clients. Right now, you’re their top priority. You’ll get more attention – meaning your home will be listed in all the right places. And it will definitely be showcased the best and right way.

So, What Are Some Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter?

How can you make the most out of these winter benefits? We’ve got you!

Make Your Home Warm and Inviting – The outside is cold and a tad dreary most of the winter. The best way to show off your home is by making it cozy, warm, and welcoming. Make sure your home’s temperature is set to an ideal spot so that your potential buyers warm up as soon as they step inside.

If you have a fireplace, turn it on. If you have throw blankets or pillows, put them on display. It will make your home a welcoming sight when coming in from the cold outdoors.

Play Up the Natural Lighting

Winter means darker days – literally. There are fewer daylight hours. So, what do you do? Time your viewings and showings appropriately. Don’t have them scheduled any later than 4 in the afternoon. By 4:30, the sun is down and out. Another tip? Wash your windows before viewings. It can amp up the natural lighting in your home making it more appealing for potential buyers.

Don’t Forget to Shovel and Lay Down Salt – If someone coming to view your house slips on the way in, trust us – that’s likely all they will remember from your home. It’s not a great first impression, is it? Make sure to leave a spot by the door for them to take off their winter boots – rubber mats are great for this!

Clean, Clean, Clean! – Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean up and de-personalize your house. There’s no bigger turn-off than a messy house. And putting away your personal items allows the potential buyer to imagine themselves living in the space.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the WinterCareful with Scents – You want your home to smell nice. Yet, you don’t want your potential buyers sneezing or turned off by the smell during the whole viewing. Go for fresh scents or light holidays scents. Also, if you’re going to make your home smell like freshly baked cookies, make sure you have some! This can score huge brownie points with some people.

So, go ahead – sell your home in the winter! You have nothing to lose. And it could really improve your chances of selling your home. You have less competition and more serious buyers. So why not? Talk to a local real estate agent in your area today for more info!

Here are some additional resources on Selling a House in Winter.

This post was contributed by Kurtis Forster. Kurtis is a real estate agent for Team Forster in London, Ontario, Canada. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate.

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

Winter Lawn Care

Winter Lawn CareSelling your home in winter presents a unique set of challenges. The most obvious is your landscaping and lawn. Although your lawn won’t Inspire awe in the dead of winter, you can show is potential by continuing to care for it.

We asked Lawn Care Guru Tony Steine for advice on maintaining your lawn in Colorado Springs during the winter months. Here’s what he had to say.

The unique winter conditions of the Centennial State can make caring for your lawn more of a timing issue than anything as homeowners try to beat the first snowfall. Although winter isn’t the prime growing season for grass, there is still plenty to do before the snow flies to ensure that your lawn bounces back next spring. Transitioning from “fall lawn care” to “winter lawn care” is easy as long as the snow hasn’t yet arrived. Check out these tips on how to care for your Colorado lawn this winter:

Winter Lawn Maintenance

Continue Mowing-Refrain from raising the height of your lawn as longer grass blades can create more chance for diseases once wet spring weather appears. Cut the grass as long as the grass is still growing to keep it at an average length before winter weather arrives. If you don’t want to cut it yourself, you can hire a professional for $42 per service according to data from LawnStarter.

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

High Traffic Areas-Once snow does appear, make sure to keep off the grass as much as possible. High traffic on dormant areas of grass can damage root systems and make it harder for those spots to recover once winter weather is gone.

Create Better Conditions

Winter Lawn Care in Colorado Springs

Credit: Guipozjim

Aerate-Choosing to aerate your lawn in Colorado is a great way to allow essential nutrients to reach the underlying grassroots. Aeration cuts out cylinders of the soil and provides sunlight, water, and energy sources to penetrate deep underneath it. Aeration not only creates a stronger lawn but can also make the lawn healthier as roots get access to essential nutrients. Consider renting an aerator to get the job done or aerate your lawn manually using a shovel or specially designed aeration shoes. Aerate every other year to keep your yard healthy and strong.

De-Thatch-Thatch buildup can happen to any homeowner as grassroots and debris can build up underneath a healthy lawn. Make sure to take steps to rid your lawn of thatch that could be suffocating the root system below. Consider using a dethatching rake that can help loosen the dead, mangled parts of the grass or possibly hire a lawn care company to use a power dethatcher to get the job done quickly.

Apply Energy Sources

Fertilizer-Adding fertilizer to your lawn is a great way to make sure that it receives the energy that it needs to withstand a long winter and green up quickly in the spring. Choose a slow release fertilizer that you can quickly spread over the lawn in pellet form. This fertilizer will provide a steady stream of nutrients to the lawn which helps roots withstand the frigid Colorado winters. Slow release fertilizers will also give the roots enough energy come spring to boost plant growth and ensure that your lawn bounces back quickly after a long winter. Be careful to follow directions closely as too much fertilizer in one spot can burn the grass creating unsightly brown spots.

Compost-Compost can be used on the lawn or as fertilizer for your cold season plants. Use this natural energy source to support the soil that hosts the grass. Compost is an organic material that includes natural forms of vegetation that have been broken down with the help of microorganisms. It is excellent to apply to lawns in late fall or early winter as the colder temperatures allow it ample time to absorb into the soil slowly. Consider using compost from your compost bin or purchasing bags of natural compost from a local garden center.

Mulch Fallen Leaves-Many homeowners still have plenty of fallen leaves on their lawns come early winter. Instead of bagging up the leaves to throw away, consider using this natural resource as energy for the lawn. Mulch leaves using a leaf mulcher, or your lawn mower, to cut them down into small pieces that will be easier to break down into the soil. Fallen leaves are a great way to naturally boost the nitrogen levels of the lawn making them a valuable resource that shouldn’t be tossed away.

Address Issues

Bare Spots-After a busy summer season, many homeowners will notice that thin or bare spots of their lawn begin to emerge after too much use. Consider these high traffic areas of your lawn and add new grass seed to these areas before frost arrives. Add new seed in a thin layer of the soil and water daily to encourage quick growth. Bare areas are also a prime spot for weeds to appear due to the lack of plant competition.

Weed Control-Early winter is a typical time for many homeowners to see the appearance of weeds in the lawn. Cooler temperatures may slow down grass growth, but weeds can usually grow reasonably quickly despite the cooling temperatures. Make sure to apply weed control to the lawn to keep weeds away and pull any larger weeds that have gone undetected. Keeping your lawn weed free throughout the winter is essential to encourage healthy and robust growth come spring.

Caring for your lawn in the winter is essential to make sure that it can quickly bounce back once spring weather arrives. Continue maintenance as long as the grass is growing and make sure to keep off dormant grass once the frost has come. Create better lawn conditions by aerating and dethatching the lawn to allow nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil. Applying energy sources, such as fertilizer, compost, and mulch, will also help give the lawn enough nutrients to last through the winter. Also, consider tackling the bare spots and keeping weed growth down to keep the lawn strong and healthy.

Investing in your lawn during the early parts of winter is a great way to ensure you’re your lawn will continue to grow well in the future. Consider all of these tips when caring for your Colorado lawn this winter.

Tony Steine has a passion for teaching others about everything in their garden. Tony will happily show you what he has done with his green thumb with a tour of his flourishing backyard. He loves spending his spare time using the fresh food from his garden to try new recipes in the kitchen.
Staging a Home for Quick Sale

Staging a Home for Quick Sale

When it comes to selling your home, naturally you’ll want to ensure that you sell it within a reasonable timeframe – and for the best price possible. Staging a home for quick sale can be an effective tool to attract as many home buyers as possible.

While the market is the main factor that will dictate the price and the timeframe in which you’re able to sell the property, there’s something else that you can do to help give your home a significant competitive edge.

Introducing: staging –something that you’ve undoubtedly heard about or seen in design magazines –and a strategy that many sellers today are employing as an additional set of steps to selling a house.

The truth is prospective buyers will form an opinion on your house within seconds of entering your home, so it’s vital to ensure that you make a good first impression when selling.

This is where home staging comes in.

Staging: What is It?

The real estate market is always fluctuating; sometimes favoring sellers, sometimes buyers –but no matter what the market, there’s always competition for buyers.

The showing of a home should impress the potential buyer right away, and ideally, should create the vision of a comfortable, efficient, enhanced lifestyle that will come along with living in that home. If a buyer feels that a home will enhance their life, it will become very attractive –something that home staging can help to facilitate.

In short? Home staging is the process of casting a home in the most attractive light in order to facilitate a quick sale, for the best possible price.

A stager will use decorative flair and knowledge of potential buyers’ needs and desires to increase the likelihood of a positive impact on those who view the home. This involves a keen knowledge of different demographics, as well as an eye for style and a flair for making homes look good.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Before Living RoomStaging a Home for Quick Sale After Living Room

Staging a Home for Quick Sale: How Does It Work?

In countless cases, staging has proven to be effective –whether a home is occupied or vacant.

As Colorado Springs Home Stager Megan Stackhouse observed, “It’s important to understand that buyers are not only comparing your home to others they have seen but to what they see on home improvement programs like they see on HGTV.”

“Younger homebuyers are more in tune with design trends because they see them everywhere online,” Stackhouse says.

In other words, there is a lot of competition out there for buyers and staging will give a better chance for a quick, top-dollar sale.

The National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging shows staging to be quite effective, with 77% of buyers’ agents stating that staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Additionally, 40% of buyers were more willing to walk through a home they saw online. Importantly, this study also found that 38% of the time, buyers’ agents identified staging as having a positive impact on the home value if the home was decorated to the buyer’s taste.

staging a home for quick sale

Generally, a stager will work to ensure that the home has a light and open look. This often involves removing heavy, outdated curtains –and opting for something lighter or even leaving the windows bare if the view outside is good. It also involves incorporating furniture and colors that’ll help to showcase the home in the best possible light. Pieces should be neutral and modern, and shouldn’t be too big, or else they’ll risk overwhelming the space. A good stager will also bring in decor items –new furniture, updated lighting fixtures, lamps, rugs, mirrors, sculptures, candlesticks, and plants to accentuate the home’s best features, and help a potential buyer to envision themselves living in the space –while at the same time taking care not to overwhelm the space with too many things. In the end, good staging is a balancing act –and one that an experienced stager will be familiar with.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Pinterest

But staging isn’t just used to spruce up lived-in homes; it’s often used when it comes to new-build homes as well. Builders know that staging helps to show prospective buyers how the home can meet and exceed their needs, goals, and desires –and recognize the value of this investment.

In order to get the most out of staging, it’s important for the seller to be able to separate from a personal attachment to the home. This is something that’s often tremendously difficult to do, but it’s a vital part of transitioning from a homeowner to a home seller –and absolutely essential for getting the home into sell-ready condition. It’s vital for the homeowner to regard the property, not as their home, but as a commodity to be sold quickly and for top dollar. This mindset will allow the seller to prioritize the things that need to be done to bring about a favorable sale.

How Much Does House Staging Cost?

So what are the disadvantages to staging?

The only real disadvantages to staging a home for quick sale are the time and money spent on staging costs and the appraisal. But when you consider that the average price reduction for homes in the MLS is approximately $5,000 to $10,000 –substantially more than the cost of staging, the cost-benefit analysis quickly begins to tilt in staging’s favor.

Also, consider the cost of time. How many house payments would be saved if staging resulted in a quick sale? Additionally, in many cases, staging helps the seller to command top-dollar for their home, which means that they can come out ahead in terms of the speed of the sale and the sale price. Home sellers may be reluctant to stage in such a market where homes are selling in days and not months, but the data plainly shows that staged homes sell faster and for more money. In fact, in very hot seller’s markets and in very popular price ranges, staging may even lead to a bidding war among potential buyers. Of course, if you prefer to avoid a bidding war and any resulting appraisal issues, it’s a good idea to run those concerns by your Realtor to see what they recommend.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Before Living Room
Before Staging - Living Room

The observation that staging can lead to a higher sale value, again, is supported by the National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging. When staging a home, 29% of sellers’ agents reported an increase of 1-5% of the dollar value offered by buyers compared to similar homes. Additionally, 21% of survey respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between 6-10%. In no case did the respondents report that staging a home had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value.

The cost of staging must certainly be considered, but estimating the cost is challenging without seeing the property. There are many factors that influence the price such as the size and condition of the home and whether or not it’s vacant or occupied.

Staging an empty house requires bringing in furniture and accessories which results in furniture rental costs and mover fees. However, occupied homes bring other considerations as well. If the homeowner’s furniture and accessories can be used the price will be reduced, but generally, some items will need to be removed and placed into storage. The cost of removing personal items, moving furniture, cleaning and making needed repairs will also impact the cost; although the homeowner may be willing to do some of the work themselves, therefore lowering the costs.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale After Living Room
After Staging - Living Room

For sellers who may be wondering how to stage a house for sale while living in it, it’s important to note that it is certainly possible –but it can be a bit more challenging. In some cases, the homeowner’s furniture and accessories may be able to be used, but more often than not new pieces may need to be brought in. At the very least, new slipcovers may need to be purchased to spruce up outdated furnishings, and some fresh, new accessories brought in. Personal accessories, souvenirs, and mementos –such as photos, children’s artwork, and similar items should all be removed, and there should be a focus on implementing neutral decor throughout. Remember, the goal is for the potential buyers to envision themselves living there –and that’s something that’s hard to do when there are tokens of the previous owners everywhere. Clutter should be kept to a minimum, baskets can be brought in to house spare items, while extra pieces should be put into storage. Beds should be updated with fresh new duvets, and every attempt should be made at keeping the home in a clean and tidy state. Of course, the extent of work and the number of purchases that are required to bring a seller-occupied home up to scratch will significantly impact the staging price.

Comparing vacant versus occupied prices from recent similar transactions gives a good cost comparison:

  • A vacant 3,000-square-foot home had five rooms staged (the main rooms plus the master bedroom and bath) for a cost of $1,600 plus $195 per month furniture rental.
  • An occupied home, also 3,000 square feet and five rooms staged, cost $625 to stage plus furniture rental of $115 per month.

Of course, the number of rooms that are staged will also have a big impact on cost. Usually, a stager will do the living room, family room, kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom, and the den or study. Generally, the main level of a home, the master suite, and any large recreational areas are staged as well. Depending on the home’s price point, additional bedrooms may be staged as well, especially if they have attached baths. This is usually done for luxury properties.

At times special features of a property must be included when staging as well. For example, a very large wraparound deck with a gorgeous view may not have its area included in the square footage of the home, but it certainly should be staged to present the property in its most favorable light. The deck may need some new furniture, which would increase the cost of staging a bit.

Because of the unique nature of each individual property, it simply isn’t possible to provide a firm formula for pricing. The best we can do is share numbers based on our experience. Generally speaking, we’ve found the range to be between $500 and $5,000 –or, in some cases, even more depending on the size of the home and the number of rooms staged. The average home will cost $1,200 to $2,000.

Staging costs can be paid in several ways. The home seller can pay, or the Realtor may pay as part of their service. Sometimes the Realtor pays and is then compensated at closing. The National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging states that 25% of the time the costs of staging a home were typically paid by the seller before the home is listed, while 21% of the time the seller’s agent personally offered to stage the home, and 14% of the time the seller’s agents offered a home staging service.

Normally stagers will accept a 50% deposit before work begins with the balance due at the completion of staging. Payment can usually be made by check or debit/credit card. The monthly furniture rental can be paid for by check or by automatic payment via debit/credit card as well. Automatic billing is a popular method for monthly charges. If the seller wishes, they’ll usually have the option to purchase any of the staging items or furniture.

Staging should always be done before listing photos are taken. In today’s world photos are more important than ever –and in many ways are the new first-showing. Photos taken after staging greatly increase the likelihood a home will actually get shown. At this time it’s important for the seller to remember that they are not the homeowner but the seller and must keep the home in its best sellable condition. The stager can help with ideas or routines for maintaining the work that they have done.

Alternatives to full staging include what’s known as soft staging and virtual staging. Each of these has their own sets of pros and cons. Let’s look at them now.

Soft staging is normally done on properties that are vacant. As the name suggests, this type of staging is less involved than full staging and consists of simply adding plants, candles, artwork, and other decorations order to give a home a warmer, less barren feel. When done well, it certainly can help but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a substitute for full professional staging. For home staging tips for sellers, be sure to check out this helpful article: Home staging ideas to help you sell your home.

It’s important to note that some items that are lumped under the category of soft staging are actually simply basic tasks that should always be performed prior to staging itself. This generally includes cleaning and ensuring that the home is kept free from clutter. According to the National Association of Realtors’ home staging report, the most common items that agents recommended were decluttering the home (93%), entire home cleaning (89%), carpet cleaning (81%), and removing pets during showings (80%).

Virtual staging is a technique that’s used primarily on vacant properties –and is one idea for staging an empty house. The virtual stager uses photo manipulation software –like Photoshop, to virtually place furniture and decorations in a room. When done by a talented virtual stager, the pictures can make the room look attractive, but more often than not the pictures end up looking artificial. Additionally, there’s another downside of using virtual staging as well –the risk of disappointing a prospective buyer. A potential buyer who was impressed favorably by the virtually staged photos that they saw online, will almost certainly be very disappointed when entering the room and finding it empty.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Virtual Staging

What to Look for in a Stager

Ok, so you’re thinking of choosing a stager. Naturally, you’ll want to ensure that the one you opt to go with is the right choice –someone with a skill to transform your home into a sell-ready property.

For Realtors, recommending a stager also involves several considerations. A Realtor bringing a stager to the transaction must ensure that they are someone who can work well with the home sellers. Tact and empathy will go a long way to avoid hurt feelings or resentment.

If you’re a seller who will be hiring the stager yourself, you should find someone you can work with comfortably, someone who doesn’t intimidate you –and who’s able to make recommendations tactfully.

In either case, a stager must be able to show impressive before and after photos of their work. These images should clearly demonstrate a stager’s expertise and skill, showing you what they’re capable of, and giving you a good idea about what you can expect when working with them.

You’ll want to choose a stager that is appropriate for your situation. This means that if your home is a median-priced property, you’ll want to avoid choosing someone who specializes in multimillion-dollar properties unless they are really good at median price listings as well. Choose a stager that will accentuate the positive aspects of the home you are listing –not just someone who works primarily with homes that are in a different price bracket than yours.

Your stager should also own their own furniture and accessories –or should be able to source them easily, and should provide the delivery service and movers as well. If your listing ends up being long-term, the stager should also be prepared to update the seasonal elements to keep the property looking current.

Finally, a look at the technicalities. A stager should have a business license with the state that you’re in, carry liability insurance, and should have a certification from a formal staging organization. These organizations include the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners, the Real Estate Staging Association, and the Home Staging and ReDesign Association.

In the end, enthusiasm is the final differentiator and is a good indication of someone who loves their job, and who will be a joy to work with. Be sure to look for a stager who’s excited about your project, and who enjoys working with the decor style that the house dictates.

In conclusion, there is little doubt that staging can help a home to sell more quickly and for more money. The only reasons to not consider staging are the time required, cost of staging, or appraisal issues. At the end of the day, your success with staging is largely contingent on the stager that you choose –so make your decision carefully, looking for someone with both skill, and experience working with homes that are similar to yours. In most cases, your Realtor will work with stagers and may even be able to recommend one to you, so be sure to have a discussion with your agent to see if they can recommend someone that they trust.

Additional Staging Resources:

For more information on home sales in Colorado Springs, be sure to get in touch with Springs Homes today. Our agents will work hard to help your home sell as quickly as possible –and for a competitive price.

Rocky Mountain Film Festival

Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival

There is always something exciting happening in the Colorado Springs Arts community. For November, that focus is on the Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival.

The festival is in its 31st season and is the longest running Women's Film Festival in North America. The festival is organized by the "Rocky Mountain Women's Film Institute." This event has become an essential part of the cultural fiber of the Pikes Peak Region.

The Festival takes place this weekend November 9-11, 2018. For tickets and more information, visit: https://rmwfilminstitute.org/festival

Springs Homes Realtor Maggie Turner is very involved in both the Film Institute and the Festival. She helps sponsor the event as part of the Women In Reel Estate Group, an award-winning business and arts partnership made up of various women in the Colorado Springs real estate industry. Here is a short video featuring Maggie that talks about the organization as well as the festival.

Great Realtors also make their communities a better place to live. That's why Springs Homes agents support Colorado Springs in so many different capacities. We are proud of the work Maggie, and all our team members do in our community.

hardwood floor header

What Types of Flooring Do Home Buyers Prefer?

Most people have a goal of one day, owning their own home. To achieve this goal, you have likely been saving your money and working to raise your credit score for quite some time. When you are financially ready to buy a home, it is time to start looking at real estate for sale. This is where the fun begins. Before you start touring homes for sale, you should create your “must have” list. This is a list of things that you want your new home to have. Your “must have” list can include the number of bedrooms you need, the number of bathrooms, the layout of the home, and the neighborhood you would like to live. If you are like most home buyers, you have a specific idea in mind of the type of home that you would want to buy.

One thing that you should consider when creating your “must have” list is the type of flooring that you would like in your home. Many home buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready and require no additional work before moving in. One important factor to consider is the flooring. Years ago, many home buyers were looking for homes with wall-to-wall carpeting in the majority of the rooms because it was in style at the time. As with most “in things,” this has changed. Today, many home buyers are interested in homes with hardwood floors. Hardwood floors have many benefits that you cannot get from other flooring materials.

best flooring for house flip

Flooring with a Timeless Look

People have been installing hardwood floors in their homes for centuries. Unlike other flooring materials such as linoleum and wall-to-wall carpeting, hardwood floors have never gone out of style. In fact, many homeowners will pull up their carpet and be thrilled to find that there are hardwoods underneath. Hardwood flooring has a timeless look that will remain popular for many more years.

New Colors and Styles of Hardwood Floors

While shopping for a new home, you will likely find that the floors in each home will have a unique look. There are plenty of styles available that make each floor unique. The species and the stain on the floor can look unique. Also, the size of the boards vary. If you are worried about the floors in your new home looking like every other house on the block, you should be looking at homes with hardwood floors. With all of the types available today, the flooring in your new home will be both beautiful and unique.

Hardwood Floors Fit in with Any Style

One of the main benefits of hardwood floors is that they can fit in with any style home. If you are looking for an elegant look, you can find a type of hardwood floor to fit in with your particular style. The same is true if you are looking for a traditional look or a rustic look. Of all the flooring materials available today, you won’t have any problem finding a hardwood floor to tie into your decorating style. This becomes a distinct advantage later on when you become a home seller.

Hardwoods are Easy to Maintain

If you are like most home buyers, you lead a busy life. Between your career, your family, and social obligations, you may not have much time left for floor maintenance. Of all the flooring materials available, hardwood floors are the easiest to maintain. Carpeting, for example, can get dirty over time. Even if you remove your shoes before walking on the carpets and if you avoid eating and drinking on the carpet, accidents can happen. Also, normal wear and tear can make your carpets look worn and dirty. If you go with tile flooring, you would need to have the grout cleaned on a regular basis. Avoiding this task will have a negative effect on the appearance of your floor.

how to clean hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are very easy to clean. A weekly sweeping and washing with warm water are all that your floors need to remain clean and shiny. Also, they don’t stain. If someone spills juice on a carpet, it can be difficult to remove the stain. If the juice spills on tile flooring, it can stain the grout. If you spill something on a hardwood floor, a quick wipe is all that it would need.

Hardwood Floors Can Be Easily Repaired and Restored

If your new home has carpeting and it gets ripped or if there is a stain that you cannot get out, replacing the carpet might be your only option. It is possible to replace just a section of the carpeting, however, this can be expensive. If you have tile flooring and a tile gets cracked, you would need to replace the cracked tile. If the floor was installed years earlier, it could be hard to find a tile to match the rest of the flooring. Also, a professional would need to replace the tile and then regrout the floor. A job like this can be very costly.

If your hardwood floors get scratched, it can be easily buffed out. If the hardwood floor has lost its shine, it can be buffed out and refinished. Best of all, this is affordable. If you are handy, you could handle the job on your own. If not, it won’t cost too much to hire a professional to make your hardwood floors look new again.

Hardwood Floors Work Great in Every Room and Area of the House

Using the same type of flooring throughout the house is in style today. Thanks to recent flooring technology, this is possible with hardwood floors. There are floor coatings available that will help your hardwood floors stand up in high moisture areas such as in the kitchen and the bathroom. This is not possible with carpeting.
Hardwood floors are very durable, which make them a great choice in high-traffic areas. If you choose to carpet these areas, the carpeting will wear out quickly. If the tile is used in high-traffic areas and something is dropped on the floor, the tile can easily crack. Since hardwood floors are durable, damage and wear and tear are non-issues.

When it is time to start touring homes looking for the house of your dreams, you should pay particular attention to the flooring. The type of floors that most home buyers today are looking for is hardwood floors. Not only will they always be in style, but they are also durable, easy to maintain, simple to restore, and there are plenty of colors, species, and styles available. If you buy a home with hardwood floors, you can expect them to look gorgeous for the entire time that you live in the house. When searching for homes to tour, you should start by looking at homes whose ads read, “hardwoods throughout.”

Additional Resources:

AUTHOR BIO:

Bruce MacDonald leads the team at MacDonald Hardwoods, a hardwood flooring store in Denver, Colorado. He often shares flooring advice across the web. Let him teach you how to choose the best hardwood flooring for your home.

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Q3 2018 Market Report for Colorado Springs

Q3 2018 Market Report Highlights

The Colorado Springs Real Estate Market has its ups and downs, but overall she acts in a pretty predictable manner. Looking at trends over time, you can see that traditionally Q3 serves as a bridge quarter prior to the slight slowdown that Q4 tends to bring. 2018 behaves right on target.

The third quarter of the year tends to be flatter because most families looking to move over the summer have already done so and are ready for school to begin in August.

The slowdown in Q4 always occurs because less people are looking to move over the holiday season and the weather and school schedules tend to occupy our time and energy.

Here at Springs Homes, the fourth quarter is a catchup time for us. We finally get some time recover from the busy season, fine tune processes and marketing and get ready for the rush of the new year.

Q3 2018 Market Report for Colorado Springs

The Housing and Building Association’s Annual Parade of Homes was so much fun this last August. It was filled with new building materials, new designers, interior design trends and homes that flat-out wowed us.

We encourage you to mark your calendars for next August so that you can find some home design inspiration, or finally meet the builder of your new dream home.

Colorado Springs Market Reports

Springs Homes has been producing market reports for Colorado Springs since 2010. The benefit of reading through these reports is to gain an understanding of the current market to see trends and to be able to predict what is coming up in the future.

Whether you are a home seller, or a home buyer, these market reports will give you an in depth understanding of the Colorado Springs market by area and price point which will give you an edge when heading toward your next sale or purchase of a home.

Visit the archive of our past market reports to take a stroll down memory lane, or download a copy of the current market report.

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Little London Colorado Springs

“Little London” was the nickname given to Colorado Springs in its early years of existence. This was because there were so many people of British descent living in the area. As a matter of fact, at one point, 1 in every 5 residents was of British descent.

This was due in large part to the fact that much of the money raised by William Palmer to develop both Colorado Springs and the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad came from English Investors.

Charles Kingsley Little London

Charles Kingsley courtesy:https://www.westminster-abbey.org/

In his book “Newport in the Rockies”, Marshall Sprague explains how good luck and a little bit of good old-fashioned marketing by one of General Palmer Associates named Dr. William A Bell helped fuel the growth and investment in “Little London”.

According to Sprague, Charles Kingsley, Canon of Westminster Abbey caught a cold in the fogs of San Francisco in June of 1874. Doctors ordered him to Colorado Springs to get over this cold.

The great man had no interest in visiting the area even if it was beginning to be called “Little London”. For him, Denver was more appealing but at that time Denver was no place for the head of the Temperance Society.

When the Canon arrived in Colorado Springs he couldn’t wait to get away. Remember, the Pikes Peak region was a pretty rough place in 1874.

Dr. William A. Bell Little London

Dr. William A. Bell

Dr. Bell assumed duties as Kingsley’s host and press agent. Bells frequent reports back to Great Britain failed to mention Kingsley’s desire to leave the area as soon as possible. Instead, the reports boasted that Colorado Springs was the Highpoint of Kingsley’s American tour and was furthermore, the one place on Earth where a man could recover from a cold in proper British fashion.

Dr. Bell exploited Kingsley’s month-long stay, to strengthen the Little London idea and to lend prestige to his advertisements in the British dailies on the wonders of the Pikes Peak region for sheep and cattle ranching.

Farmland in Britain at this time was no longer able to grow enough food to support the British population. By 1874, Bell was aware that British emigration was approaching flood-tide. Thousands of tenant farmers and younger sons of large landowners were on the move to the American West. Bells efforts saw to it that Colorado Springs received its fair share of these immigrants.

Located in what is now Manitou Springs, Bells home, Briarhurst is where Kingsley stayed to convalesce and eventually became the social center of the Little London Society. Briarhurst still exists today and is more commonly known as “Briarhurst Manor Estate” and consists of an excellent restaurant and a popular facility for weddings and other events.

Briarhurst Little London Colorado Springs

Briarhurst

Colorado Springs residents evidently became “quite British” according to Patricia Farris Skolout, in her book “Colorado Springs History A to Z. Residents carried umbrellas, celebrated English holidays, flew the English flag on Queen Victoria’s Birthday, played cricket and rugby. The police in Colorado Springs at that time were even called “Bobbies”.

Vestiges of our British past still exist today. For example, The Broadmoor Hotel still hosts afternoon teas from Monday through Saturday. One of our favorite bakeries is the Little London Cake Shoppe.

Little London Cake Shoppe Colorado Springs

Little London Cake Shoppe

The Little London Market is a popular upscale consignment shop on the western edge of Downtown Colorado Springs.

Little London Market Colorado Springs

Little London Market

Colorado Springs most popular Community Band is named the Little London Winds. This group performs entertaining concerts throughout the year. For a truly historic taste of the region make sure to catch the Little London Winds during their Summer season. The group performs in the historic Soda Springs park located in the heart of Manitou Springs, Colorado.

The British theme continues in a myriad of other ways, for example, many of the streets northeast of the Broadmoor Hotel are named for the old polo grounds that were housed in that area.

So, although the name “Little London” and the atmosphere are long gone, you can still find pieces of that unique Colorado Springs history, if you know where to look.

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Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Real Estate

Phone Number:

719.388.4000

Address:

Springs Homes
703 N. Tejon St. Suite E
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Meet Springs Homes

There is nothing average about Springs Homes. Everything we do crackles with intention and intensity, because we believe that strategy always wins when employed by confident, knowledgeable and trustworthy agents.

We list and sell homes across the entire Pikes Peak region. Additionally, Springs Homes offers property management services. We work with a select few home builders in order to provide our clients with new construction options as well as resale opportunities.

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