Defining Needs & Wants for Buyers

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Checklist to Assess Your Wants and Needs

Establishing What a Buyer Wants vs Needs

A needs assessment with a potential buyer is an essential first step in the home buying process. This type of assessment helps clarify the needs and wants of the buyer, as well as their ability to buy.

The Wake-Up Call

The needs assessment starts as a list of wants, needs and ability, but it really continues until the buyer finds their home. Once the Realtor has a good idea about your wants and needs in conjunction with your price range, they’ll put together an initial list of homes to see. After touring these initial homes, buyers sometimes feel disappointed and frustrated. They’re now starting to realize they most likely won’t be able to get everything they want in a home. The Realtor can now use the needs assessment in order to help the buyer manage their expectations.

The Balancing Act

For most people there are more criteria than just the earlier mentioned ‘needs,’ and depending on how much house you can afford, other wants might be included in the needs category. When working with a limited budget, though, you’ll likely need to prioritize your wants so that both you and your Realtor know what you’re willing to compromise on.

An experienced Realtor will help you prioritize your wants and needs. The best Realtors are also masters at finding creative compromises. For example; knowing about a house for sale in your price range on a street that appears to be in a school district you aren’t interested in, but is actually just across the boundary from the district you want but didn’t think you could afford. They will help you shift your wants and needs according to your price range.

How Do You Make Tough Choices?

These are some examples of the variety of things that fall under the wants of the buyer: a basement, a finished basement, a deck/patio/sunroom, the age of the house, a gas or wood burning fireplace, the view, vaulted ceilings, a large and/or fenced in backyard, backing up to an open space or golf course, a property with trees, privacy from neighbors, acreage, upgrades (anything from granite countertops or hardwood floors to stainless steel appliances), and natural water.

Unfortunately, natural water like a running creek through the property or a house backing a lake is unlikely to be found in the Colorado Springs area. There are several small lakes in the “Tri-lakes” area (Monument, Palmer, Woodmoor and now Forest Lakes), some creeks running through the Ute Pass area and on the northwest side of town slightly south of the Air Force Academy, and creeks in Fountain and the Cottonwood area. Other than that, if you’re looking for a home in the Colorado Springs area, you’ll likely need to be flexible about whether or not a house with natural water is available.

The most important factor when buying a home is the location because it’s the one thing that can’t be changed. The second most important factor is most likely home size because it is extremely expensive to add on to a home.
Buying a home that has good resale value is often also a very important factor. If you know you’ll be transitioning out of the community within 3 to 5 years for military, job, family or any other reason, you might need to resist your desire to buy the most expensive or unique home in the neighborhood. A classic home in a popular, well-kept neighborhood will often be the best bet for good resale potential.

When you can’t find a home within your budget with the desired age, size, style, and location, it’s time to start talking about what criteria you’re willing to compromise on. If you’ve already prioritized your wants, this is a little less of a speed bump than it otherwise might be. If not, you’ll need to consider if you’re willing to accept an older home in the right area, a longer commute for an ideal house, etc. In this high-demand market, buyers are forced to make more sacrifices than they might be expecting. For example, you won’t be able to live on 35 acres and have amenities close by on a budget.

After the needs assessment, a Realtor will take all of the factors discussed into account and set up a search for the buyer. To avoid human error on either end it’s best to keep these searches basic and use pictures, descriptions and virtual tours to decide if each house is worth a showing. Too specific of a search might exclude potential houses that the listing agent wasn’t specific enough when describing. This way you won’t miss out on a potentially perfect match for you.

Every homebuyer has a unique set of wants/needs, and your Realtor is ready to work with you to find the perfect house. If you’re ready to review your Home Buyer Needs Assessment, give us a call!

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Buyer Agency – Real Estate Super Heroes

You’ve decided that now is the time. Your home search has begun. For the past few months, you’ve been noodling around on Zillow and Realtor.com and getting a sense of what’s out there. You are checking updates in your preferred neighborhood and price range. Last weekend you even went to a few open houses. This week you are heading to check out some model homes.

That open house you walked through the other day, that house that is sticking in your mind? The listing agent will likely offer to work with you to make the purchase. But they are working for the seller. They are not obligated to look out for your best interests. It’s not that they will treat you badly. They are by real estate law obligated to a few “Uniform Duties” that all agents must perform in their work, including Performing the terms of any written or oral agreement with Buyer; presenting all offers to and from Buyer in a timely manner regardless of whether Buyer is already a party to a contract to purchase the property; and disclosing to Buyer adverse material facts actually known by Broker;

Why do you Need a Buyer’s Agent?

What’s missing from this equation? ADVOCACY. This is where a Buyer’s Agent comes in. You’ve got questions: Should we focus on resale or new construction? Are the homes we’re looking at really worth the asking price? Are online estimates really accurate? What can we even afford? I keep hearing it’s a seller’s market – does that mean jumping at the first opportunity? We have a list of “must haves” – How should we prioritize?

You might wonder why you would sign some small pile of paperwork for a buyer’s agent. You are doing all this research on neighborhoods, homes, lenders, etc. But that’s just a part of the process. Gathering data is great – but a good agent will help you prioritize, offer advice based on experience in your market, and serve as your unswerving advocate throughout the process. Once an agreement is signed, they will make sure you understand your rights, guide the inspection process, help you order title, keep the loan process on track – all the crazy details that come with transferring ownership of land from seller to buyer. There is a LOT to keep track of!

Another side of this equation: a buyer’s agent has an obligation to keep your confidence. During negotiation on a property, you may say, “We really want to get this for $350,000 but we’re willing to go up to $362,000.” A buyer’s agent will help you negotiate without letting the seller know too much. In some markets and for some properties, your agent might advise going in a bit lower. For a popular property in a popular neighborhood, your agent might advise an “escalation clause” that gives you a leg up in the event of multiple offers on a given property.

Jennifer Boylan managing Broker here at Springs Homes has an excellent example of how a “Buyer’s Agent” armed with the right tools can be an invaluable asset.

Jennifer was working with a set of First Time Homebuyers. This couple was very savvy about what it took to buy a house. These buyers were referred to Jennifer by past clients, and they followed our home buying process to the letter.

The buyers understood that they were in a competitive neighborhood (Downtown Colorado Springs) and price range. When they found a home they fell in love with; they immediately moved to make an offer.

Knowing the market was hot and this home was most likely going to see multiple offers, the buyers decided to offer above asking price. Jennifer prepared a Market Analysis, which showed the home was already priced at the top of the market. Additionally, the home was older and was going to require some repairs.

Jennifer advised them to go in at full price with an escalation clause. The clause said the buyers would pay $1,000 over the highest offer the seller received (we’d, of course, have to see the offer). This made the buyers nervous because they had heard stories of bidding wars driving prices up tens of thousands of dollars. Jennifer assured them that the clause was simply to keep them in the running for the home and reminded them that if the price got out of their comfort zone, the Colorado Contract offered some important contingencies they could take advantage of in order to get out of the contract.

The buyers ultimately got the home at asking price. It seems like the other buyers feared the bidding war as well. The sellers ended up doing a good deal of repairs after the inspection as well. This also saved the young buyers several thousand dollars after moving in.

The combination of knowledge on pricing, contract contingencies, and inspection issues helped save these buyers a large sum of money. A Transaction Broker or Non-Buyers Agent could not have done this. They would have been obliged to counsel the buyer to seek professional advice. The Transaction Broker simply takes directions, they cannot be a true advocate.

What to Look for in a Buyer Agent

So as you enter the fray of the home search process, one of the first steps is to interview for a good buyers’ agent. Some things to look for:

  1. A balance of experience and energy. Don’t discount a newer agent who is eager to serve you. A newer agent with great training can be a real asset. And an experienced agent who knows the market and remains engaged – great choice! What you DON’T want is a newer agent who doesn’t know what they don’t know, or an experienced but “adios” agent who is burned out and doesn’t seem to have time to engage in helping you find the home of your dreams.
  2. Transaction know-how. Ask prospective agents about their most challenging transaction and how they handled it. Sometimes sellers can gum up the works with unreasonable demands, and homes are not always what they appear to be on your first walk-through. Knowing how your agent handles adversity can help you make the right choice.
  3. Advocacy, advocacy, advocacy. At the end of the day, this is what you are looking for. Someone to look out for your interests, educate you about the process, and advise and guide you through a process that probably involves the largest purchase you are going to make in the foreseeable future.

If you think working with a “Buyer’s Agent sounds like a good idea, we know a great place to start. Take a look at the Agents here at Springs Homes. We are proud of the work these people do and their reviews and testimonials prove it.

Additional Resources: These are 3 additional articles I felt did a great job of conveying the concept of Buyer’s Agency, hope you enjoy them.

Tips on Buying a House

Tips on Buying a House

In residential real estate, a Seller’s market is defined as having less than six months of available inventory, and this means that sellers have the advantage. I don’t know what you call a market where inventories are measured in weeks not months.

If you are trying to buy a house, you already understand the frustration this type of market creates. To have success in this kind of market, you need to have a solid strategy. These “Tips on buying a house”, apply to any kind of market but are more pertinent in the type red-hot seller’s market we are currently experiencing.

Having said this, no matter what the condition of the market it’s a good idea to have a plan. Here is an overview of how we approach the home-buying process at springs homes.

Choose a Realtor

You can certainly try to do this on your own, but frankly, it’s just a bad idea. Every listing agent will see you as a potential buyer prospect, doing this dance is going to waste an incredible amount of your time.

The smartest move you can make is to pick a good realtor and stick with them. A good Realtor is someone that has experience, ethics and a genuine interest in you. Consider this, the end game here is to buy a house you are really excited to own. This house will most likely be listed for sale by another Realtor (a.k.a. listing agent). That Realtor’s goal is to sell the home for a price the seller is happy with to the buyer that is most likely to close with the fewest hassles.

When an offer comes in on that house the listing agent cannot help but consider who brought that offer People are people and as hard as they try to overlook their biases they cannot. It’s a good thing to work with a realtor that has an excellent reputation in the real estate community. Let’s say you are the “Listing Agent” and “Home Seller”. You have four identical offers and you know you’re going to spend the next 30 days working with someone. Wouldn’t you rather work with someone that’s a real professional? Realtors want to do this as well nobody messes up a transaction like an inexperienced non-professional.

Realtors are supposed to adhere to a strict “Code of Ethics, ” and a good Realtor will take this code seriously. It’s a good idea to read through this “Code of Ethics” to get a sense of what you should be looking for in a Realtor. At the end of the day, you are trying to find someone you trust that knows what they are doing.

Once you choose this realtor, you need to help them understand what your goals. They need to do a “Needs Assessment” to get a sense of what and where you should be focused.

Springs Homes Realtor Maggie Turner, tells us about her recent experience with a buyer. I just closed on a property with buyers that were super easy to work with, and they were clear on their non-negotiable needs versus their flexible wants and desires in a house. That helped us to be decisive in the process of eliminating houses that were not a fit, quickly determining what houses met the criteria and which ones didn’t. This also came in handy when ranking their options. And in a market where decisions have to be made quickly, it helped us move on the house that was their close second choice after the offer on their first choice house was not accepted.

If you still need convincing, here’s a great article by Mark Brian on, Why You Need to Work with a Realtor

Pick an Area

Once you have done a needs assessment and looked at some areas and neighborhoods, you and your Realtor should be able to narrow down the scope of your search. At this point, it’s a good idea actually to look at homes in this neighborhood. Be direct with your Realtor about what you think about the homes you see, and this helps them realistically assess the likelihood of finding something you will be excited about.

It’s a good idea to drive through the neighborhood frequently when you are in the home buying process. You’ll quickly get a feel for prices and availability. When new listings go on the market, you’ll see the signs in the yards, usually before they hit the MLS.

It doesn’t hurt to meet the people that live in the neighborhood. Letting them know you are looking for a home there will often elicit suggestions about possible availability.

Use The Web

Understanding the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) is essential to success in the house hunting process.

By definition, the MLS is a database with information about for sale and for rent real estate. Listing Broker’s offer compensation for cooperation by other real estate brokers. In other words, if you have a buyer for this house, we will pay you if you sell it.

MLS’s now aggregate their listing data to “Portals” Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia are examples of Real Estate portals.

The MLS also aggregates its data to its members through something called an IDX feed. The members then display those listings on their website with the stipulation that the listing brokers name and company appear on their listings.

It’s important to note that any listing data not found directly on the MLS requires aggregation and this requires time. Each entity sets its own download schedule, this is why you often find a listing on one site but not another.

SpringsHomes.com downloads every 3 hours we have found that this interval keeps our data up to date and our buyers on top of the market.

Not all portal receive data from the MLS. For example, Zillow the real estate portal giant relies on agreements with individual brands and private aggregators to receive their data. If you are aggressively looking for a house, Zillow will be among the last to receive the listing data. Your Realtor can help with this as well.

Setup Alerts

Most MLS’s have the ability for Realtors to setup email alerts for clients. This is a type of reverse prospecting method. The Realtor sets up a search using the prospective buyer’s criteria. Any time a listing agent enters a new listing that meets the buyer’s criteria, the buyer gets an e-mail notification.

In the event you have yet to choose a Realtor, you can usually set these types of alerts on many Realtor websites.

Go Social

Don’t ignore social media. Many Realtors will use social media to advertise their upcoming listings. You can use this as an opportunity to get a jump on the competition. The best way to handle this is to forward the post to your Realtor. This allows them to verify the details of the listing to make sure it’s legitimate.

Don’t Ignore FSBO’s

For Sale by Owner properties are another option you should explore. These sellers are usually willing to pay the buyer’s agents commission. In the rare instances when they are not, you will need to assess if you are willing to work with the owner yourself or if you are willing and able to pay your own agents commission.

In our experience, the For Sale by Owner that isn’t willing to pay a Buyer’s Agent is determined to maximize their net on the sale. This means an unwillingness to deal with inspection items or appraisal issues. Sometimes the home is so spectacular, you can overlook this but this is generally not the case.

Get Pre-Approved

We have talked at great length on this site about getting pre qualified and preapproved, there is a difference. Pre-qualification means the lender thinks you can buy a house. Pre-approval says that based on your loan application, income, and debts, they are willing to lend you the money, you just need to find a house.

Springs Homes Realtors Kelly Moriarty and Maggie Turner share this about pre-qualification vs. pre-approval; Maggie Turner-I recently worked with buyers in a competing offers situation. We had a strong pre-approval letter, not just a pre-qualification letter. I later found out the listing agent knew and respected the (local) lender that wrote the letter, that ultimately ended up being the assurance the sellers needed to take our offer. A pre qualification letter might be good enough when making an offer in a slower market, but right now some listing agents are only accepting offers with a pre-approval. I’m encouraging my buyers to go ahead and get that step out of the way if you want to bring a strong offer and eliminate the questions of your financial position. Kelly Moriarty-I totally agree with Maggie, pre approval vs. pre qualification. That just helped me get a home under contract. When the listing agent called to tell me they were taking our offer, and she said you were the only one with a pre-approval, that kind of shocked me.

Be Available

In hot markets, Realtors scan the MLS for new listings in an obsessive-compulsive manner. When properties do hit the market that meets a buyer’s criteria, the realtor will do one of two things either go preview that property or contact the buyer to meet them at the property, depending on market conditions and potential of the property. There’s nothing more frustrating for a realtor then not being able to get ahold of their buyers when a great property hits the market.

Make sure that you and your realtor set up some guidelines about how and when you can be contacted about properties.

Make a Strong Offer

So you have done everything we’ve suggested above and you found the house, now it’s time to make an offer. This is when your Realtor should really show their value. The first thing they should do is prepare a CMA (competitive market analysis). This analysis will essentially show you what the home you’re getting ready to make an offer on is really worth. The analysis we’ll approach the home’s price based on comparable sales in the neighborhood. This is what the appraiser will do at a much more detailed level later on.

From this analysis, you will be able to get an idea of what the home is truly worth. The next part is how much to offer and this question can only really be answered by you. Your realtor can give you guidance but since you’re going to have to live with the number you need to pick it.

Once you’ve decided on a price there is a multitude of things you can do to make your offer stronger. Remember, the goal of the listing agent and the seller is to get the property closed for the highest price and the fewest road bumps because road bumps cost money.

Here are some tips from springs homes agents Brooke Mitchell and Courtney Gilmore:

Brooke Mitchell-As, the listing agent I really like agents I know are good…and dependable lenders (preferably local).

Courtney Gilmore– Right now in our market, buyers are putting homes under contract and then continuing to look in hopes of finding something better. If they do find something better, they just cancel the contract on the inspection or other contingency. This is a big problem for sellers because they have essentially taken their home off the market. The buyer who has no real skin in the game just walks away with their earnest money intact. Listing agents have gotten wise to this game and are now looking for contracts that get the buyer invested in the deal much earlier. I have started asking my buyers to instruct their lender to order the appraisal within three days of going under contract. Additionally, we schedule the inspection to be completed and any objection submitted to Seller within 7 days of going under contract, this is difficult to pull off and sometimes it’s not possible, but it sends the seller the message that we are serious about buying your home.

Cash is King

In a hot market home sellers aren’t so concerned about getting their house sold as much as they are with the timing and hassles associated with the process. Additionally, sellers worry about appraisal issues that might affect their bottom line. This is why cash sales are very popular with home sellers. Cash buyers will often waive the appraisal contingency that way they reduce the seller’s concern about potential appraisal issues.

From the buyer’s perspective paying cash is a good idea if you can do it but you also need to look at the value of the property you want to buy. You don’t want to overpay for a home that won’t appreciate, especially if you want to resell it in a couple of years.

Debbie Drummond writes about Cash Sales in This Article: Should I Pay Cash For My Home?

Add an Escalation Clause

There are some instances where you find a house that you must have. These types of properties are usually involved in multiple offer situations. The Escalation Clause can come in handy in these situations.

Brooke Mitchell shares a real-world example of how this works-On a modular home out in the county, there were competing offers. My buyers wanted to offer $5,000-9,000 over list price, draining all of their savings & parental gift funds to make this purchase. I advised them to write a strong offer (at list) and include an “escalation clause”… This would give them the opportunity to offer more in the event competing offers started to push the price up. This clause meant they would have the opportunity to raise their price and could be willing to pay more, but may not have to.

Here is a very detailed article about the escalation clause by Kyle HiscockWhat is an Escalation Clause?

Offer to Lease Back

We have seen some success with seller leasebacks. In this scenario the buyer allows the seller to rent the home after closing until the seller figures out where they’re going. This is a big incentive for a lot of home sellers for the next closing ready is and their cash to find a new place because it means they’re not rushed, and they have proceeds from their home sale to put towards the next purchase thereby eliminating a double move.

From the buyer side, depending on the timing of your move this may or may not be an inconvenience.

Write a Letter

In a market where we see multiple offers, the offers start to look the same in terms of closing dates prices terms and conditions. One thing that can separate an offer from a slew of similar offers is a little touch of personalization. We have seen agents have success with writing personal letters to the home sellers to be presented at the time of offer. Here Nicole Happel and Brooke Mitchell share some experiences they’ve had with letters.

Nicole Happel-Recently I had a listing which received two offers. Both were a good price and from well-qualified buyers. But surprisingly sellers did not accept the highest offer. Instead, they accepted the slightly lower one, and all because those buyers took the time to write a very personal note to the sellers explaining how much the house would mean to their family. They went on to say how the teenage boy would enjoy the basement area for his personal “man cave” space. The wife loved to cook and would appreciate doing so in the gourmet kitchen. They even said they had been married for 20 years and would enjoy their children’s last years in this house. The picture they painted was heartfelt and endearing. It worked. My sellers were sold!

Brooke Mitchell– The buyer I discussed in the escalation clause section also decided to write a letter to accompany the offer, about how he had been raised in the area and these newlyweds couldn’t wait to buy a home outside of town and start their family. Oh, and her husband loved the shop the guy built!! That was the tipping point for the agent and seller. They did not have the pay more than their original offer, saving them $$thousands. The agent was also the buyer’s bus driver when he was much younger, it’s a small world!

Inspection

The property inspection negotiation is difficult in any market. Sellers feel like the inspection is petty nitpicking and a chance for the buyer to negotiate the contract. Buyers, on the other hand, feel the need to make sure they’re not buying somebody else’s deferred maintenance issues and undisclosed problems.

If you’re buying you should definitely do an inspection. Once you know the condition of the property you’ll be able to decide what to ask for versus what to accept based on the condition of the market.

It’s important to note that you can write a contract for a property in as-is condition and still cancel the contract based on an inspection. If the inspection reveals serious defects that weren’t documented in the “Seller’s Property Disclosure” you can walk away. As is, simply means that based on what you currently know about the property, you aren’t planning on asking the Sellers for any repairs.

Don’t Lose Your Pre-Approval

Home buyers often forget that once they are under contract on a property any kind of change in their financial situation can get their pre-approval revoked. Every Realtor has heard the stories of a home buyer pulling up to the inspection in a new vehicle. The bottom line is, make no changes in your financial situation until after you close on the property.

Bill Gassett has written a great article about 14 Ways to Get Your Mortgage Preapproval Revoked.

KeIly Moriarty Summarizes it best when she says- The escalation clause has helped me, the 60-day close option helped, being available and showing buyers the day a home is listed is a must as well. These are all great tools, but at the end of the day, I think this is a time where you depend on Realtor relationships and being respectful and most importantly working together to help our clients. Remember that markets go up and down and people remember how you treat them in this business. Treat them fairly and respectfully when you don’t have to and they will most likely return the favor. Real estate sales success is a long game.

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Home Buyer’s Needs Assessment

It seems in this “transitional community” we live in, with military, job growth, etc. we frequently do needs assessment over the phone or on-line… only planning showings once the buyers arrive and we hit the ground running.

What is a needs assessment for a home buyer? and where do we start?

Recently I had a buyer who lives here in town already and wanted to have coffee and chat before actually starting their home search. So we planned a Saturday morning meeting and here is what we talked about.

How are you going to finance your home?

We started with financing because while it is so fun to be looking at houses starting on-line, it can be disappointing and time wasted if you’re not in the right target price range. There are a variety of mortgage calculators available on-line, but your best bet is to ask us for one of our awesome local lenders to start the mortgage discussion! I put buyers in the capable hands of a couple different awesome local lenders, if you are in need of one, .

There are two components to the loan approval… what you can spend… and what you want to spend. (okay, there’s much more than that, but this is an important part of the decision.)

I tell clients ALL the time that my husband and I never take advantage of the full mortgage amount we are approved for. We prefer to save a little for home improvement, emergencies, travel, camping, and generally enjoying life not being strapped to our house and mortgage.

So, I have the buyer thinking about the financing… and then we start talking about their wants and needs.

What do you need in a home?

The basics start with:

  • number of bedrooms/baths
  • number of garage spaces/carport/etc
  • total square footage
  • main level bedroom for elderly/disabled
  • area, location, neighborhood, schools

These items are generally decided based on the size of family, whether their growing or downsizing, etc. Based on price, buyers may include other wants into their needs.

The location is often determined by job expectations and then driven by price and availability of homes nearby. I will say that Colorado Springs and the surrounding area is generally extremely easy to commute. The most challenging commute is the bottleneck at Monument, as the market has driven people out of the Denver market and into the Pikes Peak Region; however many of those still commute north to the Denver metro area daily!

Now, there are other criteria for most people, but they tend to be more in the “wants” category. I’m perfectly capable of running up and downstairs 100 times a day for my kids, my upstairs home office, etc… but we still strongly prefer a main level master.

What do you want in a home?

  • basement… finished basement
  • deck/patio/sunroom
  • house age
  • wood burning or gas fireplace
  • gas range (actually difficult to find here in our average price range)
  • mountain views (see my previous blog for more on that one)
  • vaulted ceilings
  • large / fenced backyard
  • backing to open space/golf course
  • treed property
  • privacy from neighbors
  • acreage
  • Upgrades (granite, hardwoods, custom, etc.. and consider location ahead of these items that can be added/changed)
  • natural water… I chuckle a little when people want to have a creek running through or back to a lake. There is just very little water in our area. There are several small lakes in the “Tri-lakes” area (Monument, Palmer, Woodmoor and now Forest Lakes). There is water/creek running through the Ute Pass area and on the northwest side of town south of the Air Force Academy… plus creeks in Cottonwood area and Fountain.

Location, location, location… it will always be the case, the one thing you cannot change, location! It’s extremely expensive and not always cost effective to add onto a home, so size is probably the next most important factor.

What about buying a home that has good resale?

Resale is also a very important factor when buying. If you know you’ll be transitioning out of the community in 3-5 years for military, job, family, etc, you might have to stave off your desire to have the most expensive and unique home in your neighborhood. Often in these cases, the basic home in the popular neighborhood that is well kept will help tremendously with resale.

What do you give up?

Compromise – When you cannot line up the age, size, style, area, the budget for your home, it’s time to start talking about which criteria you’re willing to compromise… “I’ll accept an older home in this area”, or “I’ll go farther from work for the house I want”. In this high-demand market, buyers are making more sacrifices and learning what it means to compromise.

Finding the right home to buy

We take all of these factors into account with the buyer and set them up with a search. “Garbage-in-garbage-out” can be a bit of a challenge… for example, if a buyer wants wood floors & you select “wood” as a requirement in the MLS flooring field, but a listing agent forgot to check that box, a house that might work for the buyer won’t actually show up on their search. It’s best to keep the MLS search basic and use pictures, descriptions, & virtual tours to decide if it’s worth a personal showing.

Writing this makes me realize how much I love this process. After 16+ years, I’m still not tired of looking for and finding “the one” for buyers! It’s fun to be presented with a unique challenge and find the solution… no doubt every buyer that I work with has a unique set of wants/needs, it’s so cool! If you are ready for a Home Buyer Needs Assessment, .

More Information:

Home Buyer Needs Assessment

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9 Things Which Give Value to a Neighborhood

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I recently wrote a blog about things which devalue a neighborhood. Now it’s time to talk about things which add value to one:

 

1. School District – Being in a desirable school district always adds value to a property. In fact, I sometimes get phone calls from out of state buyers who are coming to Colorado Springs and have already targeted which school district they want to live in. They are usually willing to pay more to live in such areas.

2. Neighborhood Pool and/or Rec Center – Many of our neighborhoods have a private pool and rec center just for the locals. Wagon Trails, Banning Lewis and Woodmen Hills are some, to name a few. Residents pay homeowner association dues for pool and rec center access, but they are more than happy to have these amenities which are not open to the general public.

3. Golf Course – Neighborhoods surrounding a golf course are always in demand. Homes in such areas usually cost more, but buyers consider it very valuable to live in prestigious golf course communities like Flying Horse or Pine Creek.

4. Neighborhood Trails and Open Space – If an area has its own trail system or designated open space, people consider that a plus. Take Wolf Ranch for example, this neighborhood has a private trail system weaving through it. I have heard buyers say they were hoping for such.

5.  Views of Mountains – A neighborhood which offers unobstructed mountain views will always warrant a higher price tag in Colorado Springs. After all, when you live in Colorado you want to see those mountains as much as you can!

6. Near to Shopping and Restaurants – I’d say this is added value. I promote such conveniences with my listings. I once had a home for sale where the buyer was happy to learn of the new grocery store being built just blocks away from her new home.

7. Near Water – Any time you can find a neighborhood bordering a lake or even ponds, it’s valuable. Look at the new Forest Lakes community in Monument. The average price there is in the mid $500,000’s.   Buyers will pay for that precious water nearby.

8. Cul-de-sac Community – Banning Lewis Ranch is the perfect example of this. Developers designed this neighborhood so that most of the interior streets are cul-de-sacs which means they are not high traffic and are more kid friendly.

9. Gated Community – Will buyers pay more to live in a gated community? You bet. Look at High Forest Ranch or the Broadmoor Resort Community. Both are gated with on staff security guards, offering residents an exclusive and protected environment. And both are on the higher end of the housing market.

 

Yes, it really is about location, location, location!

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9 Things that Devalue a Neighborhood

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I recently read an interesting article about home prices and what can make a home more or less valuable.  Below is the list of nine top things which devalue a property or neighborhood, and my commentary on each:

1. Bad School District – I completely agree with this one.  Families with school age children are especially sensitive to being in a top rated school district and to not being in a bad one.  Even the nicest home in a poor district will be hard to sell at top dollar.

2. Located near a strip club – I sort of agree.  We don’t have a ton of strip clubs here in Colorado Springs, and of the few that do exist they are far enough away from the houses that values are not drastically affected.

3. Area with a high rent concentration – I agree. If the majority of houses in a particular area are rentals, buyers think the neighborhood may not look as appealing. They assume tenants will not properly upkeep the homes. And apartments buildings which border a backyard are considered a drawback as well.

4. Homeless shelter nearby – Sad as this is, I have to agree that it will affect the value of a home.

5. Located near a cemetery – We have a few cemeteries in Colorado Springs.  The houses nearby are not directly affected so long as one cannot see the cemetery from them.  If the cemetery is across the street, then yes the value is affected.

6. Funeral home nearby – I don’t agree with this one. I have not seen a drop in neighborhood values because a funeral home is in the area.

7. Power plant/lines visible – I know from experience that those large overhead power lines do negatively affect a property’s value. Some of them even make a buzzing noise which makes buyers nervous. It doesn’t matter how nice the home is…if near a large power plant or power lines, buyers will consider it less valuable.

8. Near a shooting range – I disagree with this one making a home less valuable. Here in Colorado shooting ranges are quite common. Most are indoors where you cannot hear the shooting noise from outside. And the outdoor ranges are not near housing.

9. Near a hospital – This one is on a case by case basis. Example: we have that nice, new Penrose Hospital near Powers and Woodmen. It’s a lovely facility and has not negatively impacted house values in the nearby neighborhoods at all. But if you consider the older Penrose hospital downtown, that one is right across from a bunch of homes. When those ambulance sirens go off at all hours of the day, this makes the nearby houses less appealing.

If you are home shopping and want my opinion on the neighborhoods you are considering, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to share information.

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Where to Choose to Live? A Guide to Choosing a Neighborhood

What do home buyers look for in a neighborhood? The National Association of Realtors polled recent home buyers regarding what they were looking for when choosing a neighborhood. These results are rolled up across all demographics. Some of the results were surprising, while others were pretty predictable. This list should inspire you to think about what ultimately is most important to you in your home search. Try our checklist to help you define your wants and needs.

Quality of Neighborhood

61% of respondents said that quality of neighborhood was the most important factor when choosing a neighborhood. No matter where they ended up, this was the winner.

Convenient to Job

43% of respondents said that convenience to their job was of utmost importance. We generally hear buyers request a commute time of 15 minutes or less.

Overall Affordability

39% said that overall affordability was most important when deciding on a neighborhood. This makes sense as 39% of home buyers were first-time homebuyers.

Convenient to Friends and Family

35% of respondents were focused on the social aspects of life. These people moved to communities based on who was already living there.

Design of Neighborhood

26% of people polled chose the design of the neighborhood as being important. Fans of master planned communities fell into this category.

Convenient to Shopping

25% of respondents stated that convenience to shopping was their primary factor in choosing a neighborhood. This one surprised us as we hear schools being a higher priority most of the time.

Quality of School District

25% of people chose the quality of school district as their main focus when choosing a neighborhood. It is not surprising that resort and retirement communities often rank this a low factor.

Convenient to Schools

22% of people cited closeness to schools as being very important. This makes sense, especially for large families.

Convenient to Arts & Entertainment

19% of respondents said that being close to arts and entertainment was of primary concern to them. Not surprising only 8% of rural communities felt that this was important.

Convenient to Parks & Recreation

18% of people responding wanted to be close to parks and recreation while 29% of resort communities felt this was important.

Availability of Larger Lots and Acreage

16% of people focused on larger lots and acreage. 45% of rural respondents felt that this was important while only 4% of resort community people listed this as a factor.

Convenient to Health Facilities

Only 10% of people felt that being close to doctors and hospitals were important while 9% of rural people felt that this was a priority.

Home in a planned community

8% of people surveyed were looking for a home in an established community and 29% of resort community residents felt that this was of primary importance.

Convenient to Public Transportation

6% of people listed public transportation as their primary focus while 21% of urban dwellers felt that this was a priority.

Convenient to Airport

Only 5% of respondents listed being close to an airport as their primary concern, while 14% of resort residents felt this was important.

 

Neighborhood choice factors

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