Maintaining the Exterior of Your Home

When searching for a home, most people tend to focus on the interior of the home and all of the great memories that will soon be made after they purchase that home. If you ever plan to resale the house, it is very important that you maintain the home and keep it in great condition both inside and out.

The interior of a home may appear more comfortable than the exterior with central air- conditioning and heat and often times landscapers may be mowing your lawn. It is not uncommon for homeowners to spend less time assessing the exterior needs of their home. Below is a simple checklist for the exterior of your home:

  1. Clean any gutters or water spouts 2 or 3 times a year depending on the amount of trees you have around your yard.
  2. Invest in painting the exterior of your home every ten to fifteen years based upon the material of the exterior.
  3. Caulk around the exterior where needed every 3-5 years.

If you have the opportunity to build your own home or are considering replacing some of the exterior components of an existing, take the time to evaluate the costs and longevity of the materials. Skimping on the costs of exterior materials to add more expensive interior finishes, may not help long term. For instance, buying untreated wood for exterior trim may save a few thousand dollars initially but the recurring cost to paint will add up very quickly.

By performing simple maintenance on the exterior of your home, you will save yourself from costly repairs. Regular annual maintenance will keep you from spending large sums of money should you ever choose to list your home for sale. Maintaining your home may also result in selling the property for a higher price. 

For more information about maintaining your home for potential sale or to purchase a new home, contact your REALTOR® today.


The Price versus Time decision

Pick a price, any price for your home. Now start the clock and wait. Eventually, someday, someone will probably be willing to pay you that price. But, the question is – Do you have the time or the desire to wait for that to happen or would you rather sell your home now for a reduced amount of money? Welcome to the price versus time dilemma that faces all homeowners.

The price versus time dilemma is the challenge of determining which is more important to you as a homeowner – selling quickly or selling for top dollar. Of course, it’s easy to bang the kitchen table with both fists and say I want both, but that’s unrealistic. In the real world every homeowner falls into one of two different categories: the necessary seller or the optional seller. Let’s define these two vastly different types of sellers:

The Necessary Seller: Necessary sellers are homeowners who must sell their home and it’s not something they can avoid or put off further in time. Perhaps they have a job transfer or job loss, a pending divorce, health condition, or a financial crisis that is causing them to sell. Regardless of the reason, they need to sell, and the faster the better so that they can move on to their next step in life.

The Optional Seller: Optional sellers are homeowners who have made the choice to sell. They aren’t forced to move, they just prefer to make a housing change. Perhaps they want to upgrade to a newer home, a larger property, or they are looking to relocate entirely in order to travel or move closer to friends and family. The bottom line is it will be inconvenient if they don’t sell, but the world won’t end.

So which kind of seller are you – a necessary seller or an optional seller? The answer to this question is key to unlocking the decision with how you resolve the price versus time dilemma. Caution however, as it may not be as easy it might sound.

For instance there are tens of thousands of necessary sellers across the nation who desperately need to sell their homes quickly, yet they act as if they are optional sellers. These sellers list their homes for inflated prices and then are shocked, frustrated, or even angry that their homes fail to sell within their time frame. While in a typical real estate market an optional seller might hold out for top dollar, this strategy can easily backfire in some markets as their home may be worth significantly less the longer they hold out for their higher price.

If you are having a challenge determining just where you fall on the motivation scale ask yourself this follow up question. If I listed my home for 90 days and it did not sell, what would be my next step – adjust the price or give it a little more time? If your answer is to adjust the price, this would seem to indicate that selling quickly is more important for you. On the other hand if you feel more inclined to give it a little more time, top dollar is more than likely your primary motivator.

To unravel the price versus time mystery further sit down with your broker and give them an honest assessment of the reasons for why it is you are selling. By reviewing what homes similar to yours have sold for in recent months and the time frame it took those sellers to sell, it should help you to set a pricing strategy that meets everyone’s needs.

Questions you should ask when you are looking for a home inspector

Buying a home can seem like an endless series of critical decisions. Once you find a home that works for you, you will need to hire a home inspector to help communicate to you what the house has to say. Having a home inspection is great peace of mind and will offer invaluable information to you prior to your purchase.

1. What type of training does he or she have in the field?
Things can change very quickly in the home inspection business so be sure to get someone who is knowledgeable and up to date with current housing trends.

2. How long as the inspector been in business?
You will want someone with experience so be sure to ask how long they have been in the home inspection business. 

3. Do they have E&O Insurance?
Errors and Omissions Insurance is very important and you will be very surprised to know that a high percentage of inspectors don’t have it.  Ask yourself this question, “If the home inspector can’t afford E&O Insurance, how will they be able to fix a problem that they miss during the inspection”?

4. Is the inspector a member of ASHI?  (The American Society of Home Inspectors)
ASHI is a professional organization that requires its members to pass a stringent test before getting that designation.  There are many organizations that home inspectors can belong to, but a lot of them just require you to send in an annual fee to become a member. Being an ASHI member lets everyone know that you are qualified to do the job.

5. Does your inspector provide a detailed written report with pictures?
Not only do professional home inspectors provide a detailed report which can be 20 pages or more, they almost always provide pictures. Insist that your buyer get a qualified, professional home inspector.

6. Does the inspector belong to local home inspector professional organizations?
This tells you that they take their business seriously by investing in themselves and their education.

Learn to be a team

Today, home inspections are an integral part of most real estate transactions. As real estate investors, if we learn to look at the home inspector as just another part of our team, it will completely change the dynamics of the whole experience. And don’t forget about presale home inspections. I talked about these in a recent article. I still believe that they can save real estate

Renting Your Home versus Owning

A study conducted by the National Association of  REALTORS® has demonstrated that the United States will not become a nation of renters due to the many benefits both financial and otherwise of owning a home.

An analysis over a 31-year period across 23 metropolitan areas compared the ownership benefits in terms of appreciation and interest deductibility and the costs homeowners incur with down payment, taxes, insurance and maintenance. When it was assumed that renters reinvested any savings in rent (versus a higher monthly mortgage payment), maintenance and down payment, renters had a greater portfolio than buyers in 91 percent of the areas examined. However, when the model allowed renters to spend any savings rather than reinvest those savings, 84 percent of buyers came out ahead.

A study recently released from the Federal Reserve Board points out that a homeowner’s net worth is 45.9 times that of a renter’s net worth. These findings suggest that homeownership can potentially be seen as a savings plan. From a financial perspective, people who are committed to staying in a property for a long period of time will benefit from being a homeowner and would more than likely accumulate more wealth than that of a renter.

Owning a home is also at a 30-year record affordability level.  A recent study conducted showed that 23 states out of 50 are at an all time high for levels of affordability based on price-to-income ratios and also mortgage payment-to-income ratios. It is more affordable to own a home today than at any other time in the last 30 years.

There are more than 75 million homeowners in the United States and that number continues to grow. REALTORS® continue to work to help with public policies that promote responsible, sustainable homeownership. To find out more about how you can become a homeowner, contact your REALTOR® today.

Tips to Save Money on Winter Heating Bills

Invest in upgrades if possible

Heat is often lost in homes due to air leaks and bad insulation. A leaky foundation and an attic are often culprits where heat can escape from a home. Upgrading windows to Energy Star rated efficient products can be expensive but can be worth it in the savings of heat costs as well as qualifying for grants and or rebates on your taxes.

Repair Leaks 

If you do not want to spend money on an energy audit, do some simple tests yourself to check for common areas for air leaks near electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, mouldings, windows and door frames.  You can light a stick of incense and watch to see where the smoke flows horizontally to find leaks. A little caulking or installing good weather stripping can go a long way on a short budget as well.

Evaluate your appliances

If you are looking into purchasing new appliances, you will want to look into those that have Energy Star ratings. They are extremely efficient and some washing machines can use 50 percent less water than standard models. They also have water heaters that take up less space, last longer and use 50 percent less energy. Using these type of appliances can save you hundreds possibly thousands of dollars over a year on your billing costs.

Update your furnace
Energy Star rated gas furnaces can be very costly but you be able to receive reimbursements from making the conversion. Get some estimates from local appliance providers and do the math before you make the switch. A cheaper alternative may be to install programmable thermostats in your home. If you set the temperature on average 5 degrees lower while you sleep at night or while you are away from your home during the day, you can save on heating costs.

Choose cold

Hot water can be expensive so why not switch the temperature dial on the washing machine to cold no matter what you are washing? Many detergent brands are catching on to this trend offering cold water formulas and need less water to wash clothing.  Give your dryer a break when possible also and consider using drying racks. Monitor the time you spend in the shower and the temperature. Quicker, colder showers can help reduce heating bills as well.

Vail Valley Living

Whether you are living in the Vail Valley as a full-time resident, you spend just visit a few weekends out of the year or you are planning your first trip to our Valley, our resort area offers many great activities, opportunities and places to experience for all different types of people.

During the winter months, Vail Mountain has more skiable terrain than any other mountain in North America. But don’t let that stop you if you can conquer all of those acres. Nearby Beaver Creek, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch Mountains offer some wonderful terrain for snow enthusiasts. Area ski resorts normally open in late November and offer skiing into April for the winter season. If you are not quite ready for the vertical slopes, try your hand at cross-country skiing at the Nordic Center in the Cordillera area. After you have exercised and worked up an appetite, make reservations at one of the fabulous restaurants in Edwards. There is a wide array of restaurants to choose from have restaurants that will serve you wild game to fun pizza places for the kids.

Relax after big powder days at any one of the local spas in our area. Vail Valley spas have every treatment imaginable and often times come with the use of a relaxing hot tub. From salt caves at the Vail Marriott spa to the sparkling aqua sanitas water sanctuary at the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt spa within the hotel, to swimming under the snowflakes at the Four Seasons outdoor lap pool, opportunities abound for pampering yourself on every level.

There is a reason that locals always say they came for the winter but stayed because of the summer. Summer in the Vail Valley is a fantastic experience. The summer season brings Bravo orchestra concerts with performers like the New York Philharmonic and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to Vail. Choose a seat on the lawn and pack a picnic or sit underneath the awning at Ford Amphitheater. If you are missing your adrenaline activity rush from winter in the mountains, try one of the over 100 mountain bike trails in our Valley. There are trails from beginner to advanced where you can reach all sort of terrain throughout the Valley with some of the best riding located in the Eagle Ranch area. If mountain biking is not your strong suit, be sure to pack your golf clubs as there are over a dozen top golf courses in the area. Test your swing at either of the Red Sky Ranch courses in Wolcott or head to the Eagle-Vail golf course.

Whatever you choose today in the Vail Valley, you can do an entirely different and all new activity the day after and the day after that one. There are a myriad of things to do and Vail Valley living just continues to get better and better as time goes on.

How to Successfully Sell Your Home

Currently there are approximately 1,000 residential listings in the Vail Board of REALTORS® multiple-listing service.  Buyers have many options to choose from in the Valley and are currently taking advantage of what is often referred to as a “Buyers Market”. If your home is currently listed for sale, the following suggestions can help to provide a successful selling strategy for your home.

  1. Price the home to Sell: All too often sellers overprice their home because they believe “it only takes one buyer.” While this is true, in the current market, most buyers are expecting lower prices. Get your REALTOR® to present you with a realistic number for your home. They can look at other comparable properties to find an appropriate range of prices. Other properties sold near your home with similar attributes can help navigate you to the right listing price.
  2. Staging. Having your home staged with furniture and other design elements is important. Remove all clutter from your home and stage your furniture in the way that best shows off the space of your home. Consult your REALTOR® or a professional designer for helpful hints.
  3. Open Houses. Open houses are a great way to generate interest in your home. Having open houses every regularly can help to maximize the exposure of your home. 
  4. Use a REALTOR®. REALTORS® have access to many resources to help sell your home. To sell your home, you will often have to accommodate multiple showings a week and sometimes at times that are not convenient to your daily schedule. Your REALTOR® will work with these potential buyers. 
  5. Multiple Listing Service (MLS). The MLS is the most essential avenue to use to get your home advertised. You must be listed with REALTOR® to have your home in this database. REALTORS®  are able to see listings in the MLS and can send them to their clients. 
  6. Buyer Financing. Sellers can structure situations that offer money back to potential buyers to help strengthen a buyer’s purchasing power. Sellers sometimes offer to pay for the buyer’s closing costs to make the deal more attractive. You might want to consider some of these options when listing your home.
  7. Consider All Offers. If a buyer makes an offer on your property, take it seriously. You may want to counter the offer and try to work the deal to different terms or you may be willing to accept the offer given by the buyer. The important thing is to engage in the offer with the buyer the different motivations of a buyer. 
  8. Purchase over Pride. It is possible that you may have to accept less money than you expected on your property. If you need to move and renting out your home is not an option, you may have to accept a lower sales price. Be consoled by the fact that as a buyer, you may find a good deal as well.