Understanding Clouded Titles

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!

What is a Clouded Title?

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.

How to Clear a Clouded Title

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 the commencement of the 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.

Why Getting Clear Title is Important

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 "Clouded Titles" 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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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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Southern Colorado Insurance Changes

Southern Colorado Insurance Changes

I love it here... so thankful for limited natural disasters like tornado, hurricane, earthquakes. However, Colorado is still subject to blizzards, hail, wind, and fire. 2012 and 2013 were devastating locally when it comes to fire. Much of those homes have been rebuilt. So, let's talk about the unfortunate weather issues of 2016 And how it's changing insurance for southern Colorado. 

A huge part of eastern Colorado Springs was hit hard by a "hail bomb". According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, the 6th most devastating weather event in Colorado history. When you use the term catastrophic, you know it's serious. 33,200 property claims of $188.2 million and 51,300 vehicle claims of $164.6 million... I'll do the quick math, that's 84,500 claims to the tune of $352.8 million. There were other storms as well, but this was the worst. So if you think those claims aren't going to cause your rates to go up, think again!

We've all seen hundreds of vehicles driving round with temp tags, damaged hoods, temporary window patches and even some shattered windshields. There are also the vinyl siding homes and townhomes that are covered in patches. Frankly there were areas that looked like a war zone. Homes have seen damage to roof, window, siding, etc. Not all claims on vehicles necessitated full replacement, but shops were/are busy doing major repairs... plus rental cars were hard to come by and I'm sure the dealerships struggled to keep inventory. 

So, now, the insurance... We were able to purchase and investment property this Spring. Thank God it was not hit by this catastrophic storm. I went to our HOA meeting this week and learned quite a bit about how HOA property insurance works. It was eye opening, that's for sure. Thankfully our insurance agent's office took great care of us when we set up our policy.

Here's the gist... many insurance carriers are on a percentage deductible, based on the value of the property. Let's say you have a 5-unit townhome building that is valued at $1,000,000 and your deductible is 2% (they range from 1-10% deductibles!)... that means your HOA will have to pay a $20,000 deductible. So your HOA reserves would have to exceed that deductible. In the case of this storm, there are thousands of "attached" units affected, I'm not sure how many buildings. But I can't imagine their HOAs had the reserves, which means the owners all get a "Special Assessment"... sounds so nice and special, but it's not good, its expensive!! So, homeowners have to come up with thousands out of pocket, even though they are "adequately insured". One of the biggest things that came out of this, and the most important take-away from this blog!!--- if you own a town home/condo go get LOSS ASSESSMENT COVERAGE, right now!!! It is not very expensive and can help cover this "gap"!!! This Loss Assessment Coverage should be in place with every home owner, so the special assessment doesn't kill your family budget! I called my agent's office the day afer the meeting and made sure we were set up, and we were. I upped our coverage anyway, because it's worth it.

I also had a new buyer move here from Wisconsin in November. She was shocked when she called to set up their vehicle insurance. It was about double the amount they had paid for their vehicle insurance in WI. Their agent sighted recent claims, specific to southern Colorado, that caused all rates to rise. 

We heard a lot in 2013 after the Black Forest fire that insurance is really expensive, until you need it. There were many families that were under- or un-insured. My best advice, is that even if it costs maybe a bit more, MAKE SURE you have the coverage you need on all of your belongings, because otherwise it's going to cost you far more out of pocket should there ever be a need to file a major claim!! Also, review your policy notifications every year, because your insurance company could change your policy from flat deductibles to percentage, and it could be pricy to deal with the potential claims! 

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