Top 4 Things you Need to Know about Appraisals

Top 4 Things you Need to Know about Appraisals

The appraisal of a home is a vital part of any real estate transaction, and the role of an appraiser is possibly one of the most critical parts of the entire transaction. See below as to how you, as a Seller, can be way ahead of the learning curve with just a few helpful hints from me when are you ready to put your home on the market for sale!

1. Appraisers are always hyper sensitive to contributing to potentially over inflating any real estate market. And, with multiple offers being the norm in most price ranges here in Colorado Springs, they are even more so.  Encourage your real estate broker to have comparable sold data ready to present to an appraiser. This data should support whatever sales price the buyer and seller finally agree to...ESPECIALLY vital if that sales price is OVER what the original list price was.

2. Most real estate brokers are ridiculously busy right now, but that ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT excuse your real estate broker from not showing up to your home, with comparable sold data and a list of every improvement made to the home in hand to meet the appraiser for his or her site inspection. Your real estate broker knows your home better than the appraiser does, so make sure your real estate broker shows up and represents!

3. Your real estate broker should be as descriptive as possible about your real estate listing and include, if at all possible, ALL 36 photos that the Pikes Peak MLS allows. It helps an appraiser immensely to include photos of the front of your home, the rear of your home, the street view of your home, and all major rooms in your home as well as the features of the home itself. Again, your real estate broker knows your home better than the appraiser does. 

4. What your real estate broker should tell you, from the very beginning, about the role of an appraiser in a real estate transaction? The role of the appraiser is actually NOT to confirm the sales price, but to provide the Buyer's lender an independent, objective, and completely impartial opinion of the value of your home. This value of your home is considered the collateral to which the Buyer's loan would be based.

Happy Selling! 

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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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International Notary Guidelines

Notary Guidelines

I'm certainly not going to pretend to be an expert on all things regarding legal notaries around the globe. It only came to my attention a few years ago that it might not be as easy everywhere as it is here! 

In the United States of America, many legal documents need to be notarized. For most of us, in our industry, that means every title closer you know can do this for you, and they perform all of our closings. If you live in another state and are closing on a property here, sometimes that means walking into your local bank or just finding a local notary in your area to certify your signature on your legal documents.

Well, such is not the case around the globe. I had a client moving from a civilian job with the USA working in Saudia Arabia. As they began the search, they of course came here to look at homes. With electronic software, the contract, inspection, amendments, etc. were fairly easy to execute halfway around the world. But when it came to closing time, we discovered they had to have docs sent to them, then notarized and returned. Easy-peasy, right? Nope! First of all, the title companies here require an American notary. So they had to find one... at the US Embassy... and pay $50/page to have it notarized. The title company was so helpful and kept to a minimum the actual documents that needed notary. It was complicated, but accomplished.

Second example, I took a recent continuing education class in which the instructor shared an example of a client that lived in Australia and was selling a property in Colorado. Well, in Australia, to get something notarized you have to go before a judge. Wow, that's complicated!! So the Colorado seller, living in Australia came to the US at some point during their transaction (not Colorado) to visit family. The title company sent documents to them while in the USA, so they could find a US notary and remove some complications! 

I have a client now, living in Prague, getting ready to sell their property here in Colorado Springs. I asked her to get started in the process of what it takes to notarize documents there, so we would be ready when the time comes. Their home here will of course sell in probably less than a week and close in under 2 months. If they are stateside at any time in the next 3 months, we'll certainly try to get any possible documents to them, especially if we are already under contract.

The internet and social media has shrunk the world in many ways. But sometimes we need to be reminded how easy we have it... what a great country this is!!! 

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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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A Seller's Guide on How to Handle Showing Feedback

A Seller's Guide on How to Handle Showing Feedback

Selling your home can be stressful at times. The sign is in the yard, the lock box is on the door & your house is finally active in the MLS & third party sites. Now, you’re eagerly waiting to hear what potential buyers thought of your property. Feedback is imperative for sellers, especially for those whose homes might be taking a little longer to sell than anticipated. Here is my best advice when you start getting feedback from showings.

  • First & foremost, don’t take comments too personally. If somebody says that your home smells bad, you can fix the problem ASAP, so that other potential buyers don’t have the same issue.
  • Focus on the things that are changeable. Paint, lighting, temperature, decor and staging are all pretty easy fixes. There is no sense to fret over the comments about the busy street, lack of 3 car garage or placement of power lines.
  • Feedback helps both the Realtor and the Seller. If I get a comment stating that the buyers didn’t like the paint color in the kid’s bedroom, I can call my seller to see if they’d be willing to fix that problem.
  • If a showing agent has trouble with the key & had a hard time accessing the property, we want to know. Same goes for odors, décor, how the home showed, etc.
  • If 10 potential Buyers go through a property with similar feedback, then it’s probably time to address and fix the problem, if you can.
  • At times, you’ll get Buyers who forget or ignore your feedback requests, that’s why you have us to chase them down!
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