Joe has been a Realtor in the Pikes Peak Region since 1997 and as a first year agent, Joe received the Real Trends Magazine, "Rookie of the Year" Award. Since then Joe has participated in hundreds of transactions. Additionally, Joe is a Charter member of the exclusive luxury-marketing group, Elite-25, Joe and Jennifer have consistently been ranked in the top 1% of Realtors in the Pike Peak Region. Joe is a graduate of The Julliard School and prior to his career in real estate worked as a professional musician, playing in orchestras and chamber groups in the United States and Europe. This experience fostered a strong work ethic and discipline. Joe leads the way in our development creative ways to use technology to market homes. Additionally, Joe has extensive knowledge about the home building process and works closely with our Custom Home Builder partners. Joe's experience and knowledge make him a valuable resource for our company as well as his clients.

Don't Punish Your Prospects, Entertain Them-Marketing Real Estate Agents through Video

Don't Punish Your Prospects, Entertain Them-Marketing Real Estate Agents through Video

As an independent, boutique, real estate company our greatest asset is our agents. One of our primary responsibilities is to promote our agents. We do this by getting them in front of potential clients.

Real estate buyers and sellers have become protective about sharing their contact information fearing being overwhelm with unwanted communication. This is understandable, some real estate lead conversion programs advocate up to 43 touches!. This means the real estate client can expect a combination of up to 43 emails, text messages or phone calls. Who wants to undergo this type of digital waterboarding?

Since we don't want to subject people to that kind of onslaught, we decided to take the high road. We built our website to showcase our skills, knowledge and personalities. When it came to featuring our agents, photos and a text description weren't good enough. We wanted people to see first-hand the different personalities within our company. The obvious choice for us was video. Video gave us the opportunity to present the agents in a more authentic and natural light. Something you can't do with still images and text.

We thought going to a professional studio would make the process too intimidating. The agents are not actors and we needed them to come across as relaxed and authentic. We decided to do the agent videos ourselves. Our company, was already doing videos of our listings and we had the equipment.

The Setup:

  • We started with lists of questions. Our marketing staff has a great feel for the individual agents' personalities and wanted that to shine through. They put together two sets of questions, one general in nature about real estate related topics and a second more personal list tailored to each agent about their personal goals and hobbies. The questions were written so the agents could answer without a lot of thought and we did not provide the questions to the agent beforehand. We wanted their answers to be genuine and not scripted.
  • We setup in an office. We used seamless white background paper as our backdrop. We flooded the room with light from several "Daylight Equivalent" LED bulbs. You can find these at any home improvement store. We chose this setup because we wanted a very clean and even look. We wanted the agent to pop out and be the focus.
  • We used a full frame mirrorless digital camera with 55mm lens positioned on a tri-pod about 6 feet in front of the agents. We set the focal length to a shallow f2.2. This setting blurred the background and helped keep the focus on the subject. 
  • For the audio, we used a "Blue Microphones-Yeti". We positioned the microphone about 8-inches from the agent's head, just out of the frame. This proximity allowed us to capture their voices in a warm yet realistic manner. The "Yeti" is a nice voice over microphone and has the added advantage of having USB connectivity.
  • We recorded the audio onto a separate track into the computer through the USB input into "Adobe Audition CC". We then merged those tracks with the video clip in post-production using "Adobe Premier CC". Our company uses the "Adobe Creative Cloud" suite but all this can be accomplished with almost any video editing software.

The Interviews

  • Since it was so important for us to keep the focus on the agent we decided to keep the interviewer behind the camera. We used one person to operate the camera and another person off camera asking the questions.
  • The agents were instructed to briefly repeat or summarize the question before launching into the answer. If the answers sounded phony or out of character we would ask them to answer the question again. We were looking for interesting answers not sound bytes. This was difficult at first. It seemed like the agents can up with generic answers quickly. When we pushed they got a little frustrated but the answers were much better. In retrospect, this made the videos much more interesting.
  • During the interviews each agent was asked about what they do outside of real estate. We know that clients often focus on personal elements about the agents. At some point they assume they have real estate expertise but want to know more. So, we decided to share this in the videos as well. Based on the agents' answer to these questions we shot additional footage of them outside of work. For example, one of our agents has a background in Music Education. She teaches and conducts a string group for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. She mentioned this in her video and many of her clients find this interesting. So, we included footage of her conducting her orchestra.

The Results

We are obviously excited about these videos and so are our agents. We consistently hear from them that a client chose to work with them because of their video. We knew clients would appreciate seeing our agent's explaining who they are in a relaxed setting. Because of this we decided to double down this with a glimpse into the agent's personal lives.

From this we have learned that clients appreciate that kind of transparency. When clients are looking for a Realtor to work with, real estate expertise is important. If that were the only factor there would be no explanation for the number of people that simply "Have a friend in the business". We think that clients are also looking for someone that resonates with their values and lifestyle.

This kind of transparency helps build trust. Trust is of course, essential in a Realtor/Client relationship. In an online environment where buyers and sellers don't want to expose their identity until they have some level of comfort, these kinds of videos go a long way in bringing potential clients to actually reach out to us.

The proof comes at the closing table or in the car while looking at houses. Statements like "We picked you because we watched your video and you're just like us" or "We saw in your video that education is important to you. That made up our minds". Statements like these are music to any marketer's ears but the best part is that the comments are based on who the agent really is. We can't think of a better way to reach out to new clients.

 

Here is a sample of how these videos turned out:

 

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Condos and Townhouses - What's the difference?

Condos and Townhouses - What's the difference?

There is a lot of confusion about the differences between condominiums and townhouses. They share many similarities, and this seems to be the source of this confusion. Even amongst real estate professionals we often hear more opinions than facts.

So, let's start by clarifying, condominiums or condos are a type of real estate ownership. A townhouse is an actual style of building.

A condominium is best described as “the concept of ownership of a single unit of air space within a multi-unit dwelling, along with co- ownership of any common amenities (recreation centers, pools, etc...) and common areas of the structures and land among all unit owners.”

Townhouses are generally attached structures of 2 or more stories with common walls. These are a version of the old "Brownstones or "Row Houses" made popular on the east coast.

Similarities:

Townhouse ownership means you own the structure along with any associated land. So the owner of a townhouse can have absolute ownership, like a single family home.

Here's where things get a little confusing. It is not unusual to have “condominium ownership” of a townhouse. In other words, the structure is a "townhouse" while the ownership is "condominium".

Differences:

Ownership and common areas are the primary differences between condos and townhouses. You can actually have absolute ownership of a townhouse as well as the land (yard) associated with it. In a Condominium you only own the "air-space" inside of your particular unit.

The owners of a condominium development each own an equal share of the "General Common Elements". This includes the structural elements of the building roof, walls, halls, clubhouse, pool, etc...

In a townhouse community, any common elements are deeded to the the Home Owners Association (HOA). The townhouse owners are a part of the HOA but don't own an interest in these elements.

"Limited Common Elements" are where we see a departure between townhomes and condos. Limited Common Elements are only seen in condo ownership. These are things that are intended for the use on the individual unit owners. Parking spaces, garages, balconies and patios are examples of Limited Common Elements. Although these are owned by all of the unit owners, they are limited to the use of specific owner/s.

In a townhouse the balcony and garage are actually owned by the townhouse owner. The exception to this would be if a "townhouse" style home is owned as a "condominium".

Summary:

Both condos and townhouses are what is known as "Common Interest Communities". A "Common Interest Community" is one where common real estate is maintained through assessments and dues.

Because of the Common Interest Community designation, we see a lot of confusion. The easiest way to remember the differences is this, a condominium is a form of real estate ownership and a townhouse is an architectural style.

If you are in the market to buy or sell your condo or townhouse, or just want to get some more information about the differences, give me a call, I would be happy to help.

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Understanding Title Clouds

Understanding Title Clouds, Colorado Springs Real EstateWhen you buy a house you certainly don't want to inherit someone else's debts or legal problems. This is one reason for a Title Insurance policy. Title Insurance protects or insures that you have "Clear Title" to your property. Clear Title means that there are no liens, claims, judgments or problems with the title. The aim is to define the undisputed owner of the property. If you are buying the property, we want that to be, you!

When the title to a property is not "Clear" we refer to it as "Clouded". Title clouds hurt both the value as well as the marketability of a property. Clouds could include the following:

  • Mechanic's lien-These are lien rights given to contractors. This is used for the purpose of securing the payment for work performed.
  • Homeowner's Association Assessment Lien- For HOA fees and/or violations.

  • Federal or State Tax Lien

  • Judgement Lien- These liens are generally created when someone wins a lawsuit against you and then records that judgment against your property.

  • Misspelled property's address on a deed that conveys title

  • A mortgage lien whose repayment hasn't been officially recorded

  • Deed which has been signed but was not properly recorded

  • Easement that has not been properly recorded

  • Unpaid property taxes

  • Failure to transfer property rights (mineral rights, etc.) to the appropriate owner.

  • Pending lawsuits (lis pendens) over ownership rights to the property.

Clouds on title can be resolved in a couple of different ways. The most common method is by initiating a quit-claim deed. Once the lien holder has proof that the lien has been satisfied, they would sign the quitclaim deed. This releases any interest the lien holder has in the property.

The second and more complicated method is through commencement of action to quiet title. This is an actual lawsuit that determines the validity of any challenges or claims to the title of a property. The outcome would "quiet" any claims and/or challenges to the title.

It is certainly best to take care of these issues prior to putting a property on the market but unfortunately, this isn't always possible. Homeowners are often surprised to find liens from subcontractors they have no knowledge of. Additionally, improperly recorded easements are often surprises that are discovered only upon a new survey or Improvement Location Certificate.

Title clouds are generally resolvable with the right knowledge and a little legwork. This is why the choice of a Title Company is essential during a real estate transaction. If you have any questions about "Clouds on Title" please give me a call.

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5 Tips For Winter Home Selling

5 Simple Hacks

“Nobody wants to move their Christmas Tree”! That’s what I was told by the seasoned pros early in my Real Estate career. The problem is that many people find themselves having to sell during the holidays. The period of time from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day is traditionally slow. The days are shorter, colder, darker and sometimes snowy.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that the inventory levels are also at their lowest point of the year. If a buyer is looking this time of year, they are serious. So, if you have to sell during the winter months, here are 5 tips to make winter selling, more successful:

  1. Shovel: Keep the driveway and sidewalks clear. Don't make potential buyers trudge through snow to get into the house. You don’t want them dragging snow in on their pants, shoes and socks either. Buyers want to imagine what it would be like to live in your house, don’t remind them they’ll have to clear snow.
  2. Place For Shoes: You don’t want potential buyers walking through your house with snowy shoes or boots. Place area rugs or mats for them to place their shoes on. It’s also a good idea to have disposable booties available, as well as a bench or chair, if there is room for one, so a visitor can sit and easily change shoes or boots.
  3. Keep it Comfortable: The inside temperature of the home is important. If the home is cold it feels vacant and uninviting. On the other hand, too hot feels stifling and uncomfortable. Remember the buyers are most likely already dressed for outside. Just keep the inside comfortable, 65 degrees is a good place to start.
  4. Light it up: The days are shorter during the winter months. The last impression you want to create is that your house is “dark”. Keep window coverings open and lights on to make your home light and cheery.
  5. Sniff Out Odors: Holiday cooking, pets and yes people, all create odors. Buyers want to buy your house, not your smells. Clean and vacuum more often when selling your home in the winter months. Fragrances and candles are fine but remember, less is more. Don’t mask odors with overbearing products, they just make it seem like you’re hiding something.

If you follow the five simple rules along with professional pricing and staging, winter can be a great time to sell your home.

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A Decade of Equity Briargate 2006-2016

The Briargate neighborhood is one of our market's most popular areas. This popularity is the result of good planning, good schools and convenient amenities. Briargate prices have always been a little higher because of on-going new construction. New construction is more expensive than comparable resale homes. Home buyers will often push their budget higher or sacrifice somewhere else to live in the area.

During the recession (2007-2010), Briargate saw a -12% decline in median sales price. This was better than the -18% hit The Black Forest Market took. 

The post recession gains in the Briargate market are impressive. The area has seen a 23% increase from 2011-2016. Almost as impressive as Black Forest (26.8%) for the same period. Commercial development and the reputation of Academy School District #20 are fueling this increase.

As of December, 2016 the median sales price in Briargate is $341,250. This is 37% higher than the Colorado Springs median sales price. We feel like this is good news for existing home owners in the area. The only concern we see is this. The Colorado Springs housing market is price sensitive. When prices veer too far from median, we see sales slow. Moving forward, we will keep a close eye on the Briargate market.

BRI MED

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