Buying is Now 37.7% Cheaper Than Renting in the US


The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States. The updated numbers actually show that the range is an average of 17.4% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 53.2% less expensive in Miami & West Palm Beach (FL), and 37.7% nationwide!

Other interesting findings in the report include:

  • Interest rates have remained low, and even though home prices have appreciated around the country, they haven’t greatly outpaced rental appreciation.
  • Home prices would have to appreciate by a range of over 23% in Honolulu (HI), up to over 45% in Ventura County (CA), to reach the tipping point of renting being less expensive than buying.
  • Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 145% increase over today’s average of 3.7%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together to help you find your dream home.


The Past, Present & Future of Home Prices


CoreLogic released their most current Home Price Index last week. In the report, they revealed home appreciation in three categories: percentage appreciation over the last year, over the last month and projected over the next twelve months. Here are state maps for each category:

The Past – home appreciation over the last 12 months


The Present – home appreciation over the last month


The Future – home appreciation projected over the next 12 months


Bottom Line

Homes across the country are appreciating at different rates. If you plan on relocating to another state and are waiting for your home to appreciate more, you need to know that the home you will buy in another state may be appreciating even faster. Meet with a local real estate professional who can help you determine your next steps.

Tuesday Tips (Sellers): 5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale [Video]

Nearly every client we meet with that is looking to sell their homes ask the same quest, “What do I need to do to my house to prepare it for sale?”.  We found this great article and video on HouseLogic that explains it best.


5 Tips to Prepare Your Home for Sale

Working to get your home ship-shape for showings will increase its value and shorten your sales time.

Many buyers today want move-in-ready homes and will quickly eliminate an otherwise great home by focusing on a few visible flaws. Unless your home shines, you may endure showing after showing and open house after open house—and end up with a lower sales price. Before the first prospect walks through your door, consider some smart options for casting your home in its best light.

1. Have a home inspection

Be proactive by arranging for a pre-sale home inspection. For $250 to $400, an inspector will warn you about troubles that could make potential buyers balk. Make repairs before putting your home on the market. In some states, you may have to disclose what the inspection turns up.

2. Get replacement estimates

If your home inspection uncovers necessary repairs you can’t fund, get estimates for the work. The figures will help buyers determine if they can afford the home and the repairs. Also hunt down warranties, guarantees, and user manuals for your furnace, washer and dryer, dishwasher, and any other items you expect to remain with the house.

3. Make minor repairs

Not every repair costs a bundle. Fix as many small problems—sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, dripping faucets—as you can. These may seem trivial, but they’ll give buyers the impression your house isn’t well maintained.

4. Clear the clutter

Clear your kitchen counters of just about everything. Clean your closets by packing up little-used items like out-of-season clothes and old toys. Install closet organizers to maximize space. Put at least one-third of your furniture in storage, especially large pieces, such as entertainment centers and big televisions. Pack up family photos, knickknacks, and wall hangings to depersonalize your home. Store the items you’ve packed offsite or in boxes neatly arranged in your garage or basement.

5. Do a thorough cleaning

A clean house makes a strong first impression that your home has been well cared for. If you can afford it, consider hiring a cleaning service.

If not, wash windows and leave them open to air out your rooms. Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Wash light fixtures and baseboards, mop and wax floors, and give your stove and refrigerator a thorough once-over.

Pay attention to details, too. Wash fingerprints from light switch plates, clean inside the cabinets, and polish doorknobs. Don’t forget to clean your garage, too.

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has found happiness in a Chicago brownstone with the best curb appeal on the block. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Call us at 303-225-3378 to discuss your selling needs and for more tips to prepare your home for sale

Tuesday Tips (Buyers): Do You Have What It Takes to Win a Home Seller’s Heart?

It’s no myth, the market is hot and sellers are hold most the power.  Currently, there are roughly 5,000 homes on the market in the Denver Metro Area and an estimated 5 times that in buyers.  One piece of advice we give our clients when making an offer is to write a heartfelt letter to the sellers.  This article from best explains how and why.

letterIn romantic movies, the girl goes for the pompous jerk with millions of dollars while the sweet, caring guy does all the little things right. Winning over a seller can be like that common rom-com trope. But in this case, you don’t necessarily have to have the most money. And you don’t have to send roses or plan a meet-cute to get to closing day.

So how do you woo the seller of your dream home? We consulted several Realtors® and industry professionals to figure out the best ways to win a seller’s heart without throwing in more cash.

Write a (sincere) letter

Writing a letter can be effective, but you can’t crank out a generic form letter. As more and more buyers use letters to ingratiate themselves with sellers, you don’t want to sound exactly like everyone else.

“The use of these letters has become so widespread that it is hard to tell if they come from the heart or are just a manipulative ploy,” says Ron Rovtar, an associate broker at Cherry Creek Properties in Boulder, CO.

Instead, point out specific things you like about the home in the letter and add details about yourself and your family. If you plan to keep the house the same, that could be a clincher for some nostalgic sellers.

“I recently had a case where buyers won in a multiple-bid situation because they were going to restore the home opposed to modernize it,” says Craig McCullough, a Realtor at Evers & Co. in Washington, DC.

If you do plan to modernize, you probably don’t want to go into detail about how many walls you want to destroy for a new, chic master bathroom.

Get personal

Your letter could also use a personal touch. Try adding a photo or video.

“I recommend my clients be fully expressed in a ‘buyer letter,’ because a seller who is going to choose based on the total package is making an emotional decision,” says Collin Bray, vice president of sales and co-owner of Century 21 Cityside in Boston, MA. “If you have a family, show a photo of your family. If you have a lovable puppy, share a photo of you and your dog. Be yourself, not what you think a seller will want.”

Get pre-approved

If you haven’t been pre-approved yet, you should consider it. Since getting pre-approved isn’t something every prospective buyer does, having that pre-approval letter can make you look like a more attractive, serious candidate.

“It’s a way to show sellers that you’re not just window-shopping,” says Dave Fry, a Realtor and co-owner of the Fry Group in Minnesota.

Be cordial

Just because you aren’t dealing with the seller directly doesn’t mean you should forget about manners. When you’re looking to get a seller’s attention, you should be on your best behavior and communicating your interest and sincerity through your Realtor.

“Saying ‘Thank you’ or ‘We appreciate what you did’ goes a long way,” says Jane Terrell, a broker and Realtor at Century 21 Four Seasons Realty in Gatlinburg, TN.

If a seller isn’t available one day because she or he has a previous engagement, Terrell advises communicating your understanding and appreciation of the situation.

“Set the stage for a cooperative negotiation and closing,” says Terrell.

Find a solid Realtor

One of the best ways to make sure buyer-seller communication flows well is to find the right Realtor.

“Realtors know each other, and working with someone who has a solid track record and good reputation can make all the difference. If the seller’s Realtor knows that your Realtor is reliable, honest, and professional, the sale will go a lot more smoothly for you both,” says Fry.

Talk to neighbors, family, and friends for recommendations for a good Realtor. You may need to interview multiple Realtors and go on a few home-search excursions to find one who feels right for the job.

It can take some extra time, but it may mean the difference between an unhappy missed connection or a pleasing long-term relationship with the home you love.



To learn more, call us at 303-225-3378


Tuesday Tips (Buyers): 14 Things to Consider Before Buying a Home

When you’re buying a home, it’s easy to let emotions get in the way of reality. “Sometimes we want something so badly, we’re not willing to ask all the questions we should,” says Leslie Levine, author of “Will This Place Ever Feel Like Home?” To make sure your dream home isn’t a mirage, follow these 14 tips:


1. Visit at various times of day.
The windows that let in so much light during the day may be a peeping Tom’s dream at night. That seemingly quiet residential street may be a noisy, highway-feeder street during morning or evening rush hour. The adjacent school may seem like a nice perk if you’re buying in the summer, but during the school year, daily playground noise and extra traffic may be more than you bargained for.

2. Research recent local news.
You need to look at more than the house: Examine the factors you can’t see. For example, perhaps the municipal water well has high levels of contaminants, or a perhaps a high-voltage power line may soon be coming through your back yard. You can also check with the city or county to see if there are any proposed projects.

3. Talk to neighbors.
How many people in the neighborhood own their homes? What do neighbors say are the pros and cons of the area?

4. Ask if the neighborhood has an association.
“Is there a newsletter for it? How often does the neighborhood get together? Do they have a block party every year?” Levine asks. “The fact that they’re having a gathering says they care about their community, that they want to get to know each other, that they’re willing to socialize that way. People who behave that way are building a community. They’re going to look out for your kids; they’re going to look out for your house.”

5. Quiz the sellers about house problems.
What past problems are the sellers aware of? Even if the issues have been fixed, it’s good to know that the house may be prone to, say, ice dams or water leaks so that you can take preventive measures rather than find out the hard way. If you know that the basement flooding was solved by building up the landscaping in a particular area, you won’t level the ground there.

6. Get a home inspection.
Virtually all houses have defects. Some are obvious, and most are curable. But knowing what needs repair can help you negotiate a lower price — or at least prepare you for costs you’ll soon incur. Strongly consider getting inspections for lead paint, radon and wood-eating pests, too.

7. Get detailed records on past improvements.
This isn’t always possible. But if you’re told the house’s exterior was painted two years ago — and then see a receipt noting the whole project cost just $1,000 — then you’re forewarned that cheaper materials were used and that you may be looking at repainting sooner than you thought.

8. Don’t assume remodeling will be easy.
If you voice your ideas to the sellers, you may glean valuable insights. For instance, perhaps that shower is in an odd location because, when the previous owners remodeled 10 years ago, they discovered a costly structural impediment to putting a shower where it would seem more appropriate.

9. Consider the view.
“So many neighborhoods now have teardowns,” Levine notes. “So look at the two houses on either side of you.” Do the adjacent houses look like they might be candidates for a teardown? Is the next lot empty? Does the neighborhood or town have restrictions about what your prospective neighbors can build there? “They may build some behemoth structure that affects your light or the way your house looks or your view,” Levine says.

10. Ask for utility bills.
You may adore the Cape Cod architectural style or the high ceilings and glass walls in a modern home, but those winter heating and summer cooling bills may not fit your monthly budget. Ditto for the water bills that come with maintaining a pristine landscape.

11. Pay close attention to taxes.
Don’t just ask about the seller’s most recent tax bill; ask the amounts for several recent tax bills. In some areas, houses are re-appraised — and taxed at higher rates — frequently. That great deal and good investment may not seem quite so grand if the property taxes skyrocket year after year. Look at local news and talk to your Realtor about how taxes are used in this area. In some cities, schools are substantially funded through property taxes, which means you can count on yours increasing regularly.

12. Check with city hall.
Look into the property’s and the neighborhood’s zoning, as well as any potential easements, liens or other restrictions relating to your property. The seller should disclose these facts, but it’s better to be proactive. If you’re using a buyer’s agent, they should be able to help.

13. Reconsider the bells and whistles.
Are you sure you can live with a one-car garage, or a detached garage, or on-street parking? The pool may be a nice bonus, but can you afford the upkeep?

14. Explore the surrounding area.
If you’re new to the area, you may not know that only three blocks away, this pretty neighborhood backs up to a dumpy commercial zone or a less-than-savory part of town. If the home is near an airport, fire station, police station, hospital or railroad track, expect to hear trains, planes or ambulances throughout the day and night. Make sure you’re not too close to an agricultural area that may generate odors or kick up dust or other airborne problems.

Contact us at 303-225-3378 to learn more about things to consider when looking at buying a home. 

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Diane Benson Harrington wrote this article.