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Where to Find Christmas Lights in Colorado Springs 2018

Where to Find Christmas Lights in Colorado Springs 2018

Where to Find Christmas Lights in Colorado Springs 2018A few years ago our family really got into driving around and looking at the remarkable Christmas lights in Colorado Springs. Since then, I’ve been hooked and this has now become a tradition

I am talking about the fantastic automated displays that people set up at their homes. Most of these displays are set up and coordinated to a musical soundtrack. You can actually stay in your warm vehicle and listen on your car radio while you watch the lights.

So, for the second year in a row, I have put together a guide, map and list of the appropriate radio stations of the best and the brightest automated holiday home light shows in Colorado Springs.

I also wanted to mention some “holiday light etiquette” because it’s easy to forget basic things when you’re in the moment.

  • If homes are crowded with long lines of cars, please just watch for one cycle.
  • Don’t block driveways of neighbors who need to come & go from their homes.
  • Park on the opposite side of the street & turn your lights off, but leave on your parking lights
  • A couple of homes collect donations for various charities. Feel free to donate.

The Best Christmas Lights in Colorado Springs:

5359 Rawhide Ln.6121 Bow River Dr.
90.3 FM
11183 Allendale Dr.9118 Sunstone Dr.
3148 Deergrass Pl
89.1 FM
3565 Windjammer Dr.
1894 Whitehorn Dr.
87.9 FM
1263 Schroeder Rd.
107.7 FM
1031 Amsterdam Dr.
88.5 FM
301 N. 15th. St.
821 Cardinal St.
97.3 FM
2570 Nadine Dr.
10284 Deer Meadow Circle
93.5 FM
237 Audubon Dr.
89.1 FM
6135 Kettle Fire
107.5 FM

Here is a Map to Help You Find These Wonderful Displays

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Brokers, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication - PinterestAn “IDX Broker” is a real estate professional that participates in the worlds largest real estate marketing network. “Broker Reciprocity” is the key to making this network successful.

In all fairness, it’s also the name of a service that distributes listing data to Brokers and real estate portals.

To understand how this complex network operates, we need to look back to the days when real estate print advertising was King!

Before the internet, real estate agents used print advertising to market their listings. This involved putting together ads for print media like newspapers and home magazines.

Print ads were expensive and putting them together took a lot of time. This resulted in agents making choices about which publications were most effective.

Another challenge of print advertising was the home sellers themselves. Home sellers expect aggressive marketing, the wider the reach the better. Home Sellers expected Agents to advertise in as many different publications as possible.

Print advertising was also frustrating because of the time it took to go from printing to the shelf. In most cases, it took weeks to get the magazines into the reader’s hands. This often meant the homes were under contract and were no longer for sale.

The Internet Created the IDX Broker

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationThe internet has changed the entire real estate advertising landscape. Agents can now advertise their listings to tens of thousands of websites globally.

The amazing thing is that this all takes place in minutes or hours, not days and weeks. The reliability of the data improved as well.

This dissemination happens because of a complex system of syndication and distribution channels.

The system was set up by the Real Estate industry itself. Local MLS’s and The “National Association of Realtors” established this system.

There are two types of end users that use this data. First, there are the large real estate portals like Realtor.com & Zillow. The second group consists of individual cooperation IDX or Broker Reciprocity websites.

It all starts with the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When an agent lists a property for sale, they have the option to syndicate that listing. If they choose yes, it becomes part of the feed. This simple act has become one of the most important aspects of the Steps to Selling a House.

Syndication

Syndication is the term used to describe the listing data sent to the big real estate portals. This would be sites like realtor.com, Zillow.com, homes.com and many more.

Think about syndication as a modern version of the old print advertising model. Instead of compiling and distributing ads for print magazines, it’s done online.

The other problem this system fixed was the scope of distribution. The home seller is now happy that their home is on every real estate website. The agent no longer has to choose where to advertise the property based on budget.

Broker Reciprocity or IDX

The second type of listing distribution method is IDX or Internet Data Exchange.

This method is often referred to as Broker Reciprocity. This is, in fact, a great description of how this concept works. Reciprocity is “The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit”.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationIDX is a listing data feed that gets distributed only to participating brokers. This arrangement allows participants to display other Brokers listings on own website.

There are strict rules about how the data must appear. But IDX allows Brokers and Agents to provide rich listing data to their clients.

One of the rules of IDX is that participants cannot opt out of which Broker sites their listings appear on. This rule ensures a level playing field for participants. Additionally, this provides the broadest advertising reach for all listings.

IDX allows the smaller real estate companies to provide the same listing data as the big portals. These smaller websites can’t go toe to toe with the massive portals like Zillow and Realtor. But having the same listing data gives them an opportunity to compete in different ways.

Agents have the advantage of being local and having local knowledge. Smart agents use local neighborhood information around the IDX data.

These agents provide connections between the IDX data and life in these neighborhoods. This is something the big portals can’t do…yet!

Here are some examples of Broker Reciprocity in action. These sites are from IDX Brokers around the nation:

Real Estate Portals

The biggest of the real estate websites are often called portals. These sites are a rich source of real estate information. This includes sites like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com.

Information on available Homes For Sale is the primary attraction of these sites. Like the IDX Brokers, Real Estate portals receive their data from local MLS syndication feeds as well. The Portals also have strict rules about how they can use this data.

The portals are commercial websites, they make money in many different ways. Some sell advertising, while many make money by selling leads to Real Estate agents. To get these leads, the consumer has to see these portals as authoritative and trustworthy. This means the data on these sites must be accurate. But accuracy is difficult to achieve in a fluid market, like residential real estate.

Evolution of The Data Feed

In the early days of syndication, the data on the portals was unreliable. Consumers complained that homes on these sites were often under contract or sold.

The problem with real estate data is that listings come and go on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. The original listing data feed came in full datasets. This required the sites to rebuild their databases daily to purge old data and stay current. These rebuilds took a long time and in the process, the status of a property could change.

A home, the potential buyer saw on a portal as available, could be under contract or off the market. The listing agent always needed to confirm the true status of the property for the consumer. Contacting the agent was usually what the consumer was trying to avoid in the first place.

Birth of RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard)

The real estate industry understood this needed to improve. So, in 1999 The National Association of Realtors launched RETS. RETS is a data framework used by the real estate industry to help with the exchange of real estate data.

RETS was a more dynamic platform designed for real estate data. It allowed for faster synchronization not a complete replacement of the listing data. This allowed both Brokers and Portals to refresh data throughout the day.

Full implementation of RETS was slow and this had a lot to do with the MLS systems themselves. MLS’s contract with big data systems providers. Much of what the MLS can do depends on their vendor’s capabilities. These vendors were slow to follow the RETS standards which affected the MLS systems as well.

NAR finally required the MLS’s make RETS available by the end of 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that we saw industry-wide adherence to RETS.

RETS was a significant improvement over the early methods of listing data syndication. But, with any good technology comes revisions and improvements and that’s what’s next.

The Sunsets on RETS

In 2018, Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) announced it plans to retire RETS. RESO Web API will be the new standard moving forward. According to RESO, “Web API” will move the real estate industry deeper into mobile and social applications.

The Web API will make its data calls in real time, this will make the listing data more accurate and reliable.

Mobile has become an essential tool for home buyers, it makes sense to focus efforts on this platform.

Syndication and Your Home

How does all this affect the homeowner? Well, in a very good way, especially if you can stand out.

In the days of print, the widest coverage went to the agent that spent the most on advertising. Syndication allows the listing agent to advertise on thousands of sites. Remember we are talking about the portals and IDX or Broker Reciprocity sites as well.

With so much listing data available to homebuyers, your home must stand out. This means, professional photos, video or virtual tour. It also helps to have the home staged before photos.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

Make Sure You Get Syndicated

Syndication is the new standard in the real estate industry for marketing listings. The process of getting your listing into syndication is actually quite easy. But, there are agents that don’t take part in this remarkable system.

Lack of participation is usually due to confusion about how the system works or how to get connected. If you are selling your house, make sure your realtor’s marketing includes syndication.

Getting involved is actually easy. Most MLS’s offer syndication as an option at the time and agent inputs a listing. In most cases, it’s as simple as checking a box. This method gets the listing into the system at a minimal presence.

The various portals have options and upgrades to enhance the status on their site. This requires contracting with each portal and of course paying more money. In some cases, this is a valuable upgrade. But, serious buyers are going to search out the best listings on each portal. Great photographs, video, and virtual tours seem to matter more than enhanced status.

Optimizing Your Exposure

There are close to 100 portals, and many of these portals have extended networks with 100’s of subsites. Keeping track of where to send your listing data can be daunting.

There are portals that specialize in unique property types. Catering to niche property types like farm and ranch, waterfront, income and more.

We have found that for us, the best way to stay on top of listing syndication is to use a tool like Listhub. Listhub is a syndication tool for the most popular real estate portals in the world.

The listing agent chooses the portals they want to receive their listing data. Turning on or off the feed based on whatever criteria are important to that particular agent.

Keeping track of what property goes where can be overwhelming. Trying to keep track of usernames, passwords, image sizes and more is a big job. Listhub is a tool we use that handles this for us.

Developed by “The Threewide Corporation”, Listhub launched in 2006. This was during the developmental stage of the RETS standard.

Move, Inc, the owners of Realtor.com acquired Listhub in 2010. This made Listhub the syndication tool for one of the largest real estate portals in the world. This is a company that understands syndication.

Some MLS’s Step Away From Syndication

There is a growing trend among MLS organizations to end syndication feeds. They say this decision is about giving Brokers the freedom to choose where their listings go.

As I mentioned earlier, the choice to syndicate a listing is as simple as checking a box. So opting out of syndication is a simple task for a Broker, un-check box. So, the choice argument seems weak.

If the purpose is to target only certain portals of the Brokers choosing, ListHub does a great job at that. So, eliminating that option makes no sense either. In truth, there are a host of opinions and reasons about this move away from MLS syndication.

The popular opinion is that big brokerages are squeezing the smaller companies.

Zillow is the biggest portal and they allow direct listing data feeds from big companies. These XML data feeds are expensive to set up and the company needs a lot of listings to qualify.

Smaller brokerages can’t afford the setup and rarely have enough listings to qualify. Since most home sellers demand their listing appear on Zillow, this puts the small company in a jam.

Eliminating the MLS syndication option appears to create an advantage for bigger companies.

If you’re asking yourself how this happens, it’s pretty simple. MLS Boards have directors and these directors are often members of big companies. This is a function of size, bigger companies have more agents, thus more interest in MLS politics. The attitude towards syndication is, I get it through my company, so let’s pull the plug. This saves money and enhances the status of big companies.

This is unfortunate for smaller brokerages but not catastrophic. If MLS’s step away from portal syndication, opportunities open up for other entities. There are a growing number of paths into the real estate portals.

Ancillary service providers like Website and IDX vendors can generate the XML feed. These companies send their clients listings to the portals eliminating the issue.

This works because the vendors have a financial motivation to help their clients. Smaller brokerages can sign up for the service and syndication becomes a bonus.

 

Popular Real Estate Portals

This is important because home sellers want their listings on the “Good Portals”.

This brings up the question, “what makes a portal good? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Home sellers tend to look for the widest net possible and the most visible. Realtors generally prefer to focus on the most effective portals in the space.

These are the portals that present the property in the best possible light and get the best results.

Of course, there are a few portals that are without a doubt required. We’re talking about the “Top 5” Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin and Homes.com

These five sites receive the lion’s share of traffic in the real estate space. If your home is on the market you need to have it on these fives sites.

IDX BrokerInformation provided by SimilarWeb.com.

This chart illustrates why it is important to have your for sale property on these sites. These sites are step one for home buyers in the steps to buying a house.

Inclusion here gets your home noticed and if it looks good, on the shortlist. Once a buyer puts a home on the shortlist, they tend to start more in-depth research on other sites. It’s during this research they start to reach out to Realtors for help.

This is the point buyers start to schedule private showings. Showings lead to offers, contracts, and closings. This process wouldn’t exist without the wide net of Broker Reciprocity and Syndication.

If you’re selling your home choose a broker that understands syndication and IDX. You should look for someone that has a good understanding of where your listing will go and how it gets there. You don’t want to hear, “Oh my office handles that”.

IDX and Broker Reciprocity constitute a powerful network for listing agents. Make sure you are using this tool effectively.

hardwood floor header

What Types of Flooring Do Home Buyers Prefer?

Most people have a goal of one day, owning their own home. To achieve this goal, you have likely been saving your money and working to raise your credit score for quite some time. When you are financially ready to buy a home, it is time to start looking at real estate for sale. This is where the fun begins. Before you start touring homes for sale, you should create your “must have” list. This is a list of things that you want your new home to have. Your “must have” list can include the number of bedrooms you need, the number of bathrooms, the layout of the home, and the neighborhood you would like to live. If you are like most home buyers, you have a specific idea in mind of the type of home that you would want to buy.

One thing that you should consider when creating your “must have” list is the type of flooring that you would like in your home. Many home buyers are looking for homes that are move-in ready and require no additional work before moving in. One important factor to consider is the flooring. Years ago, many home buyers were looking for homes with wall-to-wall carpeting in the majority of the rooms because it was in style at the time. As with most “in things,” this has changed. Today, many home buyers are interested in homes with hardwood floors. Hardwood floors have many benefits that you cannot get from other flooring materials.

best flooring for house flip

Flooring with a Timeless Look

People have been installing hardwood floors in their homes for centuries. Unlike other flooring materials such as linoleum and wall-to-wall carpeting, hardwood floors have never gone out of style. In fact, many homeowners will pull up their carpet and be thrilled to find that there are hardwoods underneath. Hardwood flooring has a timeless look that will remain popular for many more years.

New Colors and Styles of Hardwood Floors

While shopping for a new home, you will likely find that the floors in each home will have a unique look. There are plenty of styles available that make each floor unique. The species and the stain on the floor can look unique. Also, the size of the boards vary. If you are worried about the floors in your new home looking like every other house on the block, you should be looking at homes with hardwood floors. With all of the types available today, the flooring in your new home will be both beautiful and unique.

Hardwood Floors Fit in with Any Style

One of the main benefits of hardwood floors is that they can fit in with any style home. If you are looking for an elegant look, you can find a type of hardwood floor to fit in with your particular style. The same is true if you are looking for a traditional look or a rustic look. Of all the flooring materials available today, you won’t have any problem finding a hardwood floor to tie into your decorating style. This becomes a distinct advantage later on when you become a home seller.

Hardwoods are Easy to Maintain

If you are like most home buyers, you lead a busy life. Between your career, your family, and social obligations, you may not have much time left for floor maintenance. Of all the flooring materials available, hardwood floors are the easiest to maintain. Carpeting, for example, can get dirty over time. Even if you remove your shoes before walking on the carpets and if you avoid eating and drinking on the carpet, accidents can happen. Also, normal wear and tear can make your carpets look worn and dirty. If you go with tile flooring, you would need to have the grout cleaned on a regular basis. Avoiding this task will have a negative effect on the appearance of your floor.

how to clean hardwood floors

Hardwood floors are very easy to clean. A weekly sweeping and washing with warm water are all that your floors need to remain clean and shiny. Also, they don’t stain. If someone spills juice on a carpet, it can be difficult to remove the stain. If the juice spills on tile flooring, it can stain the grout. If you spill something on a hardwood floor, a quick wipe is all that it would need.

Hardwood Floors Can Be Easily Repaired and Restored

If your new home has carpeting and it gets ripped or if there is a stain that you cannot get out, replacing the carpet might be your only option. It is possible to replace just a section of the carpeting, however, this can be expensive. If you have tile flooring and a tile gets cracked, you would need to replace the cracked tile. If the floor was installed years earlier, it could be hard to find a tile to match the rest of the flooring. Also, a professional would need to replace the tile and then regrout the floor. A job like this can be very costly.

If your hardwood floors get scratched, it can be easily buffed out. If the hardwood floor has lost its shine, it can be buffed out and refinished. Best of all, this is affordable. If you are handy, you could handle the job on your own. If not, it won’t cost too much to hire a professional to make your hardwood floors look new again.

Hardwood Floors Work Great in Every Room and Area of the House

Using the same type of flooring throughout the house is in style today. Thanks to recent flooring technology, this is possible with hardwood floors. There are floor coatings available that will help your hardwood floors stand up in high moisture areas such as in the kitchen and the bathroom. This is not possible with carpeting.
Hardwood floors are very durable, which make them a great choice in high-traffic areas. If you choose to carpet these areas, the carpeting will wear out quickly. If the tile is used in high-traffic areas and something is dropped on the floor, the tile can easily crack. Since hardwood floors are durable, damage and wear and tear are non-issues.

When it is time to start touring homes looking for the house of your dreams, you should pay particular attention to the flooring. The type of floors that most home buyers today are looking for is hardwood floors. Not only will they always be in style, but they are also durable, easy to maintain, simple to restore, and there are plenty of colors, species, and styles available. If you buy a home with hardwood floors, you can expect them to look gorgeous for the entire time that you live in the house. When searching for homes to tour, you should start by looking at homes whose ads read, “hardwoods throughout.”

Additional Resources:

AUTHOR BIO:

Bruce MacDonald leads the team at MacDonald Hardwoods, a hardwood flooring store in Denver, Colorado. He often shares flooring advice across the web. Let him teach you how to choose the best hardwood flooring for your home.

shouldisellorrentmyhouse

Should I Sell or Rent my House?: Weighing your Options

You are a homeowner and for whatever reason, it’s time to move on. Maybe you’ve outgrown your house, perhaps there’s a new job waiting in another location or you’re just ready to move to a more appealing home in a different neighborhood. No matter what the reason, you are no doubt struggling with the question, should I rent or sell my house?

This decision often comes down to where you are in life and what your long terms goals are. If you don’t have a lot of cash reserves or investments, you might need the proceeds from the sale of your existing home to go towards the down payment on a new home. If on the other hand, you’re looking for investments, managing a rental property might be a great option for you.

Deciding Whether to Sell or Rent

There are a lot of different factors to consider before jumping into the world of rental property investing. Some of them are financial, while others have to do with the demands this type of investment can make upon your time and lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at the major considerations that will affect your decision.

Start with the money

Cash flow should be the primary focus when considering the financial side of the rental business. Just like it sounds this term describes how cash flows in and out of your accounts.

Cash can flow positive or negative, but for most people, positive cash flow from your rental property will be the goal.

There are rare exceptions to this principle, these exceptions usually involve taking losses for tax purposes, certainly not something most people are looking for.

The other reason you might consider taking the negative cash flow would be if you were pretty far into a 15-year loan. You would do this in order to pay off the house and own it free and clear.

Establishing Cash Flow

In order to establish cash flow, you’re going to have to do some estimating of both income and expenses. It’s important to be realistic about these numbers. When I work with a new property owner in our property management company, I tend to lean on the pessimistic side of these numbers.

If the property leases for more money and the expenses end up being less, our clients are pleasantly surprised.Click To Tweet

If the property leases for more money and the expenses end up being less, our clients are pleasantly surprised. If there is some kind of negative trend in the market, having forecasted from the worst case scenario means they’re less likely to get hurt. I suggest you do the same when making your estimations.

Your Property’s Income

Rental property income can come from a number of different sources. Some landlords offer various services and options to tenants for a fee. Services like landscape maintenance, cleaning and various insurance policies for late rent. It’s a good idea for the new landlord to keep it simple, this means using only the rent payment when calculating income.

Establishing Rental Rate

The first thing you need to establish is how much you can realistically lease your property for. You want to be realistic because you want the property to lease quickly, no matter what the condition of the rental market. Keeping it leased goes hand in hand with keeping the cash flow positive.

You have several options when it comes to pricing.

  1. There are free valuation websites like Zillow where you can get a ballpark idea of what your home could lease for. This gives you a starting point, but ultimately you’re going to want to do detailed research to get a more accurate estimation.
  2. You could ask a Realtor to do a rental analysis. They will most likely use data from the MLS (Multiple Listing System), this is a good option because the data is generally accurate and verified.
  3. Another option would be to do your own research by combing through sites that feature rental properties in your neighborhood. You can talk to neighbors in order to see what they know about rental prices as well as calling any “For Rent” signs to see what people are asking.
  4. Finally, you might use a property management company to manage the property. One of the primary services they provide will be pricing. Since they manage multiple properties and will usually have MLS access, their price is usually the most realistic.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get the pricing right. Tenants tend to move in waves, this means they usually start looking 30 to 45 days prior to when they want to occupy. Additionally, they probably need to give notice to their current landlord. If you take the first couple of weeks testing your price, you may find your rental sitting vacant for a couple of months. This mistake will kill your cash flow.

It is important to be methodical about your pricing and please don’t use the ”This is how much I need to get method”. This method consists of the homeowner looking at their payment and adding a little profit in order to determine the rental rate. This doesn’t work because the market doesn’t care how much your payment is or how much profit you want.

Renters will be looking at everything available on the market. If your rental is overpriced they will more than likely politely pass leaving you clueless as to why they didn’t lease it. So, before you do anything else establish a fair market rental value for your property.

Your Property’s Expenses

Once you establish the fair market rental value for your property you can start to apply debits to that number in order to see if the cash flow will be positive. here is a list of expenses you’re going to want to use in order to figure out if this is going to work.

  • Mortgage: Add up your principal, interest, property taxes and insurance (landlord policy).
  • Taxes: You will need to pay federal income taxes on the net income (rent plus other money minus expenses) you receive from your rental property each year.
    • Each year when you file your tax return, you will add your net rental income to your income for the year, such as salary income from a job, interest on savings, and investment income.
    • Property Taxes were covered above in the Mortgage section. If you, not your lender make your own tax payments, you can add them here.
    • Owning a rental property allows you to make several tax deductions for things like interest and depreciation.
  • Operating expenses: This is a broad category
    • Advertising – Websites, Print, Social Media
    • Travel – Driving back and forth to the property
    • Cleaning and maintenance
    • Legal fees – Documents (leases, disclosures, etc.)
    • Credit and background checks
  • HOA Fees: If you live in a neighborhood that has an association you’re going to want to pay those fees yourself. Since late payments of HOA fees can bring serious consequences and fines, you don’t want to leave this one to the tenants. Having said this, you may want to roll the HOA cost into the rental rate.
  • Management fees: if you choose to use a property manager you will need to calculate their monthly fee along with any other additional fees into your expenses total. Using a property manager can eliminate other expenses along with a significant amount of time and hassle. if you are the least bit squeamish about dealing with tenants you owe it to yourself to talk to a property manager.
  • Commissions: if you or your property manager are putting the property into the MLS system for Realtors to show and help you lease, you’ll need to offer a commission which varies from area to area.

Once you’ve tallied all of your expenses and compared against the potential income you’ll receive from the property, you’ll have a better sense of whether or not renting versus selling is a good idea.

Your Time and Effort

In addition to the financial aspects, you should consider the effect managing rental properties will have on your personal life.

If you’re going to self-manage your rental property, you will need to handle the following:

  1. Advertising – The internet makes this a lot simpler than it used to be. You’ll still need to prepare ads, take photos, compile house details and post all of this information.
  2. Answering calls – No matter how automated you try to make the leasing process, tenants still want to talk to a human. They have questions and frankly, want to get a feel for what kind of person you are.
  3. Scheduling showings – Plan on showing the property at all times, even on evenings and weekends. People with 9 to 5 jobs are going to request this. In our experience, if someone is really looking for a house to rent they will carve out time during the day.
  4. Showing the property – This can actually be a lot of fun and it’s good to get to know your prospective tenants. One important word of warning don’t be wooed by their personality, you need to be objective and make your decision on the application and the data you get from that exercise. In other words, put a lot of weight on the tenant’s credit score, background check and references.
  5. Processing the application
    1. Pulling credit
    2. Checking background
    3. Calling References (previous landlords, employment & personal references)
  6. Preparing a lease – You can find a boilerplate lease online, but an even better idea is to contact a local real estate attorney and pay for a copy of their lease. Remember, every market is different and a local real estate attorney will most likely have a lease that takes into account aspects of your local market.
  7. Documenting the property condition – This is important because when your tenant moves out you need to be able to prove any damage claims you make against them prior to deducting any monies from their deposit. You want to avoid any opportunities for subjective opinions about property conditions and damages.
  8. Emergency Phone Calls – You should offer your tenants a way to reach you at anytime day or night in case of emergencies. To minimize these calls, it is a good idea to explain to the tenant who to call in case of certain types of emergencies. For example, in most cases, a gas leak should elicit a call directly to the gas company instead of the property manager.
  9. Ongoing maintenance- You’re going to want to make sure the property is regularly maintained. This means winterizing and de-winterizing sprinklers, cleaning and servicing the furnace and making sure smoke detectors and CO2 detectors are in proper working order. These items are important because carbon monoxide is so dangerous and landlords own much of a liability around it.
  10. Performing regular property inspections – Even the best tenants lose sight sometimes of the fact that this is your house. Regular inspections are necessary for a number of reasons:
    • Making sure all occupants are on the lease
    • Checking for unapproved pets
    • Verifying there are no illegal activities taking place
    • Checking for things like smokers in a non-smoking property
  11. Collecting Rent – This includes dealing with late and or unpaid rents.
  12. Evictions – The possibility of having to serve and process an eviction
  13. Preparing a property to release – At the end of the lease term, the property needs to be returned to a condition where it is ready to move into by another tenant. This can include:
    • Carpet cleaning
    • General cleaning throughout
    • Patch and paint of walls
    • Other maintenance items in the property
    • Rekeying of all locks
    • General landscape maintenance

Some homeowners have no problem with performing any of these items. But oftentimes, it is very time-consuming to find the right vendors and schedule all of the work to be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner. A property manager will handle all of this for the homeowner and this is one of the big benefits of using a property manager.

Other important reasons you might lease

You might consider renting your property if you have a desire to return to the area. Here in Colorado Springs, we often see military families that plan on returning to the area at retirement or when they’re through with their military service. For this reason, they will decide to put their home into a property management program or in some cases, manage themselves from a distance. The upside is that when they return they know exactly where they’re going to live. Additionally, pricing fluctuations don’t affect them as they don’t have to buy back into the market at a higher rate.

Another good reason to rent your home is the possibility of catching a rising equity tide. During the latest recession, we used a term referring to some of our homeowners as “accidental landlords”. These were people that were unable to sell their homes without writing a check and were not willing to walk away or go through the short sale process. These people put their homes up for rent and decided to weather the storm. Fast forward to the latest real estate boom, and many of these people have sold their homes at a tidy profit.

Some people have a genuine desire to own property and be a landlord. Every now and again you meet someone who just loves owning a lot of property and getting to know their tenants. They really don’t mind the hassles involved and always seem to be on the run and energized by what they do. Yes, these people exist but are rare.

The Upsides of Selling

You’re Done

Selling your home and walking away with a profit is a great feeling, especially in a seller’s market. Doing so can give you the flexibility to take advantage of other opportunities.

This money can potentially be a substantial amount of money which you might use this as a down payment on your next property. Many people love the prospect and the excitement of starting over in a new home.

Be aware that in an extremely hot seller’s market you will need to be able to find someplace to move to. Talk to anyone trying to buy in a hot market and you will soon learn about the stress and disappointment of navigating this type of market. This is a problem you don’t want to discover after your house is under contract.

Tax-free profit

If you’ve lived in your home for at least 2 out of the last 5 years prior to the sale, you may be eligible for an exclusion on any capital gains tax up to $250,000. If you are married and file jointly this amount doubles to $500,000 (2017). You’re not going to find a lot of other Investments that give you this kind of break.

Free Time

Handling a rental property as a homeowner takes a fair amount of time and effort. Re-read the section on Time and Effort and ask yourself if you are really ready to handle all of those responsibilities. Using a property management company alleviates most of these responsibilities, but selling your property alleviates all of the responsibilities once and for all.

Escaping Maintenance and Repairs

If your home is a maintenance nightmare, or in need of repairs, renting it out is probably a bad idea. The tenant will certainly expect the condition to be up to a livable standard. Repair requests will create a constant hassle and eat into your bottom line.

With a home in need of numerous repairs or remodeling, selling is most likely the best option. This allows you to deal with any repairs and deferred maintenance in one fell swoop, after the inspection and prior to closing. Once you negotiate those items, the maintenance and repair headaches are over.

Conclusion

This list will certainly get you thinking about the core issues that surround selling versus renting. Timing, lifestyle, income and a long list of other factors go into the decision to be a home seller or a landlord. This information should go a long way to get you pointed in the right direction.

As always, if you have any questions or help to get started selling or renting out your home, feel free to give me a call.

Additional Resources

Here are some helpful resources I used while putting this article together:

Converting Your Home To A Rental Property-Luke Skar

Should I Rent or Sell my House-Bill Gassett

Should I Sell or Rent My Home? Factors to Consider-Anita Clark

Pros and Cons to Selling a Tenant Occupied Property-Michelle Gibson

 

 

shopping

What You Should Know When Shopping for a Mortgage

Housing may be a necessity, but real estate is certainly an investment. In fact, it’s the investment of choice for many. In a recent survey, “Bankrate.com” discovered that 25% of the “Financial Security Index Survey” respondents answered “Real Estate” to the question: “Which would be the best way to invest money you wouldn’t need for more than 10 years?”

Investment choices

For most people, their home is the single largest investment that they’ll make –and it’s worth spending some time to make sure that investment is financed using the best loan possible.

Sadly, though, nearly half of all mortgage buyers don’t end up shopping for a mortgage first. This is unfortunate since shopping around can lead to a far better loan; savings that could add up significantly over time. For example, finding a lender that could give you even a 1% lower interest rate can easily represent a savings of thousands of dollars –per year.

Shopping for a mortgage

Sometimes, seemingly small things can make a big difference over the long haul. Here is a great article on just how interest rate can influence your buying power by Ellen Pitts

For homebuyers and investors alike, it’s important to obtain a favorable loan in order to get ahead. Much like buying a home below market value is something that savvy investors look for; the terms of the loan will also have a big impact on your investment.

To help make the process a bit easier, we’re going to walk you through the process, showing you how to shop for a mortgage.

What You Should Know: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

While shopping for a mortgage may sound confusing and overwhelming, the process itself is relatively straightforward.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB) has simplified the entire disclosure process in order protect consumers from predatory lenders. This means that rules are in place to help protect mortgage buyers. For example, mortgage brokers (but not lenders) must charge the same percentage on every deal, meaning they can’t just increase their margin “just because.” Other rules include the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) rule that requires lenders to make a reasonable, good-faith determination that prospective borrowers have the ability to repay their loans. These rules, and more help to provide strong protections for homeowners and are designed to help prevent risky lending practices which were common before the financial crash of 07/08.

With this in mind, there’s a lot that you can do, as a buyer, to find a loan that’s favorable. Let’s take a look at some steps that you’ll want to take when shopping for a loan.

Get Pre-Qualified

It’s an all-too-common scenario. A home buyer walks into a Realtor’s office to discuss buying a home. The buyer’s excited, and has been looking at properties online, and has a list of homes that they want to see. Unfortunately, though, the buyer hasn’t talked to a lender and hasn’t been prequalified. Sadly, it turns out that they can’t afford any of the homes that they were looking at. This is unfortunate and can be extremely disheartening.

To prevent this from happening, it’s a good idea to try to pre-qualify for a loan, before you start shopping. At Springs Homes, we do pre-qualification with home buyers as the first step in the home buying process. In order to pre-qualify, you’ll want to meet with a couple of lenders. You’ll give them some basic information about your current financial situation, including your credit score, wages, and the amount of money that you have for a down payment.

The goal at this stage is to see if you qualify for a loan, and if so, what terms you qualify for: how much can you borrow, and what type of loan you’ll be eligible for –such as a conventional loan, an FHA loan –a first-time homebuyer’s loan with a low-interest rate, or a VA loan.

Before you go, you’ll want to check your credit score. This will help lenders to see where you stand and will give you an idea about whether you should move forward with the mortgage lending process, or whether it may be better to wait a few months and work to improve your credit score. If you’re worried that asking for your credit score will hurt your credit, don’t be –you’re entitled to a free credit report every year. Generally, a score that’s lower than 760 can negatively impact the loan that you qualify for, and you may be required to pay a higher interest rate or pay a fee to keep the rate down.

Once you’ve taken a look at your credit score, you’ll know whether to move forward. If you proceed with the pre-qualification, you’ll want to ask your lender for a fee worksheet. This is a breakdown of the fees that they’ll be charging you, such as an origination fee and interest rate; as well as some costs that will be out of the lender’s control, including taxes and insurance. While the lender isn’t required to give you this, their refusal should certainly be a red flag and may indicate that you’ll want to shop elsewhere or go with a company that’s more transparent about their costs.

If your credit score is a bit lackluster, there are a few things you can do to bring your rating up.

Tips for Improving Your Credit:

  • Get a credit card –and make payments on time
  • Bring any past-due accounts current
  • Pay bills on time
  • Consider consolidating any credit card debt by moving it onto a card with a low-interest rate
  • Correct credit report errors
  • Become an authorized user on someone else’s card
  • Set up accounts with automatic payments
  • Try to maintain credit card balances that are lower than 30 percent of your credit limit

Start Home Shopping

Once you’re prequalified, you’ll have a much better idea about the type of properties that are within your price range. When shopping for a home, it’s generally a good idea to start out looking at properties that are on the low to mid-range of what you can afford, and then slowly raise the bar until you find a place that you’re happy with. You’ll also want to keep location in mind when searching. It’s one of the most important criteria for most people. Since it’s important to be near work, schools, and other places –it’ll be a key factor when making your decision. Plus, it’s one thing that can’t be changed unless you move again. You could always upgrade the kitchen at a later date, but location is something that’s a bit more difficult to change.

Full Loan Application

You’ve found a house, written an offer, and the offer has been accepted. Congratulations! This is an exciting stage of the home buying process.

Once you’ve reached this stage, you’ll want to send a copy of the contract to any lenders that you’re still considering after the pre-qualification process. You’ll also need to make a full loan application with any lender that you want to obtain a true estimate from.

What Is a Loan Estimate? Obtaining a Loan Estimate

The Loan Estimate form is a three-page document that lenders are required by law to give you after you apply for a loan. This form helps borrowers to understand the full cost of the mortgage, including fees and interest. It’s an easy way to compare mortgage options and can help you to discover which lender is offering the best loan.

Since October 3, 2015, the Loan Estimate has replaced the good faith estimate and the Truth in Lending Disclosure –except in the case of “Reverse Mortgages.”

The new form is set up to be simpler, and to eliminate any kind of closing table or last-minute bait and switch, thereby protecting uninitiated consumers. For an excellent detailed line by line description of the Loan Estimate Form, have a look at The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s website.

The Loan Estimate must be given to the borrower within three business days of loan application.

To submit an application all that is required is:

  • Your name
  • Your income
  • The property address
  • An estimate of the value of the property
  • The desired loan amount

Note: Your loan officer cannot require you to provide documents verifying this information before providing you with a Loan Estimate.

You’re not required to provide written documentation to obtain a Loan Estimate, and the only fee that can be charged is a small upfront fee for pulling your credit report, usually no more than $20.

Comparing Loan Estimates

It makes financial sense to shop around for the lowest interest rate that you qualify for –and the loan with the most favorable conditions. Fortunately, Loan Estimate forms make it easy to compare lenders.

Once you’ve obtained your Loan Estimates, you’ll want to take the time to look at what different lenders are offering. Comparing Loan Estimates is an important part of the home-buying process, and the best way to shop around for a mortgage.

The two areas that you’ll want to pay special attention to are origination fees and the interest rate. You can also look at things like prepayment penalties, what a late payment will cost you, and whether the lender intends to process your loan or sell it –if this matters to you. You’ll also want to check to see if there’s a balloon payment –a large one-time payment at the end of the loan term. Make sure you take the time to look at these different terms and conditions. The last thing you’d want is any surprises after closing.

You’ll also want to ensure that the monthly payments match your expectations and that you’ll have enough funds to pay your estimated cash to close.

If you find anything that you’re not sure about or if you have any questions, be sure to talk to the lender. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have.

Note: Make sure you compare the total dollar amounts if you’re looking at different-length terms. For example, a 15-year mortgage will have a higher interest rate, but will cost less in the long run because you’ll pay off the debt 15 years earlier.

Finally, keep in mind that while a loan is a commodity, the lender is not. An inexperienced or unprofessional lender can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. For instance, missed closing dates, or neglecting to lock in an interest rate could all cost you significantly. Before you go with a lender, take the time to ensure that they’re experienced and reputable. Talk with people that you know to see if they have anyone they recommend, and research potential lenders online to see what people are saying.

Remember: the right loan can have a significant impact on your investment –so it’s worth taking some time to get this right. By shopping around, you can increase your chances of securing a lower interest rate, so do your research and find a lender that’s right for you.

Additional Resources for Shopping for a Mortgage:

Popular Searches

Not sure where to search for a home?  Whether you are moving here because of a change in job or to take advantage of our beautiful scenery, our experience has taught us that there are some popular searches that people generally ask us about.  If these searches don’t work for you, feel free to contact us and we can customize a search especially for your needs.

Ft. Carson Homes for Sale

Many people come to the Colorado Springs area because of an association with Ft. Carson.  We have a search that focuses on homes for sale under $400,000 near the Ft. Carson area and a search for homes for sale over $400,000 near Ft. Carson.

Broadmoor Homes

Love the Broadmoor?  So do we.  This search will return homes in the homes in the Broadmoor Area.

District 20 Schools

District 20 is one of the top school districts in our area.  We have many people search for homes that are within the District 20 (D-20) boundaries.  You can search for homes near Northgate or search for homes near Briargate.

Trees & Large Lots in Black Forest

Love trees and acreage?  Then the Black Forest area might be for you.  Black Forest offers larger lots and plenty of trees and privacy.

Popular Powers Corridor

The Powers Corridor is the ultimate in convenience.  Shopping galore, quick access to the airport and family oriented neighborhoods make this an area that many people consider.

Close to Denver

Many times, people want the small town feel but with the proximity to a large city.  The TriLakes area offers this in a big way.  On the northernmost border of El Paso County, the TriLakes area offers people the shortest commute to Denver.

Land to Build

Can’t find the exact home you are looking for?  Then maybe building a home makes sense for you.  This search will show you several areas where land is available to build your dream home.

Archives

Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Real Estate

Phone Number:

719.388.4000

Address:

Springs Homes
703 N. Tejon St. Suite E
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Meet Springs Homes

There is nothing average about Springs Homes. Everything we do crackles with intention and intensity, because we believe that strategy always wins when employed by confident, knowledgeable and trustworthy agents.

We list and sell homes across the entire Pikes Peak region. Additionally, Springs Homes offers property management services. We work with a select few home builders in order to provide our clients with new construction options as well as resale opportunities.

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