Colorado Real Estate Blog

Colorado Springs Real Estate Blog, Get Tips for buyers and sellers, statistics and analysis, great homes for sale and more!
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.

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.

Continue reading
719 Hits

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.

Continue reading
971 Hits

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.

Continue reading
1430 Hits

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

Continue reading
877 Hits

Improving Your Winter Real Estate Photos

Winter months create significant challenges for real estate photographers. The days are shorter, darker, colder and sometimes snowy.

Exterior images are the biggest challenge. This is a big deal because this is the primary image for almost every Real Estate Listing create.

Our basic rule of thumb for exterior photographs is to shoot them when the sun is on the front of the property. East facing homes in the morning, west in the afternoons.

This becomes a problem during the winter months when the arc of the sun is further south. During winter, it is not unusual for north and west facing homes to get no direct sunlight on the front of the house. 

Exterior images with no sun on the front of the property result in shadowy or dark images. In some cases when the sun is behind the house extreme lens flare.

wrongtime

In order find the ideal time to take the exterior picture, we use a convenient app. "The Photographer’s Ephemeris". This handy application shows us where the sun will be throughout the day. This app saves us from making unnecessary trips to the property to find the best time for pictures. Here's how it works:

  1. Place the Red Pin in the middle of the scene you want to shoot.
  2. Use the slider underneath the timeline to track the sun's path
  3. Look for full sun on the entire front of the house.
  4. Schedule your photo shoot for that time. It's that simple!

During the winter the Ephemeris often shows us no ideal time (see above). The sun maybe behind the property all day. This creates a real problem if you are trying to get that bright, crisp, even look on your exterior image.

Although "dusk shots" seem like a good alternative, they can feel a little pretentious. Especially on a median priced home. These shots are generally reserved for the "Ultra-Luxury" listings.  

Our solution is to take what we call a “pre-dusk”shot. This is a shot taken just as the sun goes behind the mountains/horizon. We take a set of bracketed images, usually 7 to 9 images. These images are then processed in Photomatix to create a single "Exposure Fusion" image.

Here is a finished "Pre-Dusk" image taken using the following tools:

StoneFence 800

I like this image because it shows the property in the best possible light. This home faces Northwest and never gets full sun on the front during the winter. This technique give us a nice even light so we can get a sense of how the home actually looks. 

I also like the added perspective the drone gives, you get more of a sense of how the Home fits into the neighborhood.

Here’s how I created this image:

  • I used the raw image from the DJI phantom 4.
  • I brought the image into lightroom and output seven bracketed exposures to photomatrix.
  • Once in photomatix I created an Exposure Fusion image. This image is then sent back into lightroom.
  • In lightroom, we make any final adjustments and resize the photo for MLS and websites.

If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me (Contact)

Continue reading
1616 Hits