Tag Archives: buying colorado real estate

Selling Points!*

23 Jun

Traditionally, one buys a home using the same tried & true criteria:  price, location, condition, square footage, bedrooms/baths, amenities. There are of course other items, but these are among the most important.  A choice is made on financial considerations as a function of the physical parameters of the property.  Is the home worth what you can buy it for, given its physical attributes?  If you decide that it is, you or your broker will draft an offer and negotiate the sale.  Once it’s accepted, your lender’s appraiser will evaluate and confirm its value by comparing it to similar properties that have sold.  Successful inspection, title work, mortgage commitment… then off you go to closing!  Unfortunately, too many new owners experience some degree of buyer’s remorse when they realize, perhaps months or even years later, that their home’s life is not what they expected.  The reasons for this are many.  Maybe a hidden defect becomes apparent as time goes by.  Maybe the owner’s sense of community and shared values is compromised as the true nature of the home’s setting unfolds.  There can be many other negative results, but prior to making an offer, employing a more holistic approach using the following Selling Points* criteria can assure better outcomes…

Character.  A home’s character can be defined as a unique set of attributes that provide depth and dimension to the experience of inhabiting it.  Yes, this is a subjective determination, but most of us know when a house either has it or lacks it.  The factors that determine character may be architectural touches, the layout of the floor plan, or the building materials used, but each contributes to a secure sense of place and comfort.

Aesthetics.  This is closely related to character.  Again a subjective call, but the fact is homes that are visually pleasing in terms of design, landscaping and setting have a positive curb appeal that enhances both current value and insures the appreciation of future value.  Financial aspects aside, a family will feel good in a house that looks good!

Privacy.  One of the most overlooked aspects of home buying, privacy is a function of both sight and sound. You want to be insulated from sight lines that allow your neighbors and passers-by to look into your life, and at the same time you don’t need to see unpleasantness around you, whether it’s transitory or permanent.  Sound becomes a factor if it constitutes noise pollution… detracting from your sense of privacy and often undetected on a first or even second showing, especially if it occurs randomly or in the wee hours.

Eco-Consciousness.  We can broadly define  eco-consciousness as an awareness of your home’s proper place in the ecosystem.  Some places contribute to it better than others, but as applied to a house, we think of how it does or does not integrate with you, it’s local environment, and our planet as a whole.  Eco-conscious variables include the positive benefits of solar gain and shade, natural light infusion, energy efficiency, and water purity and availability.  Negative forms include anything that diminishes integration with our environment or damages our health, from light, noise, odor, water and air pollution to toxic contamination.

Sustainability.  A close cousin to eco-consciousness, sustainability in housing refers to how they are built, maintained and improved.  Whether building new or remodeling the old, did you or the contractor use long lasting, energy efficient and whenever possible recycled materials and non-damaging construction techniques?  You want your home to be built with as little resource depletion as possible, and you want it to outlast your mortgage!

Energy Flow.  Every living space (and workspace) has a flow of energy in, around, and through it.  Asian philosophy calls this flow Qi (chi), and the study of it in living spaces is feng shui .  Whether you believe in this phenomenon or not, today more and more real estate practitioners are evaluating this characteristic for their clients.

While a prime determinant of positive energy flow is the arrangement of your home’s decor, it is also a function of your home’s setting, design and floor plan, which cannot easily be altered.  Better to select a property with optimum energy flow to start, and enhance it later with your own decorating and furniture designs.

Physical & Spiritual Health.  Eco-consciousness is to sustainability as energy flow is to both physical and spiritual health.  On the negative side, houses and the living spaces within them are energetic containers that absorb and hold not only germs and pollutants, but also the bad experiences of those within it.  These may linger after who or whatever introduced them are long gone.  On the positive side, most people would prefer that their home hold in sunshine, warmth, the smell of homemade cookies, and the sweet memories of those who had lived there before.   Physical things:  There are things in and about a home that can damage the structure, make you sick, or hurt your children!  Here is just a partial list:   bacteria & virusnatural cleanersradonmoldexpansive soil, lack of fresh air exchangersdustchemicals from carpetingChinese drywallPVC pipelead paint or pipeswindow blindsformaldehyde insulationgas appliances, etc.   Non-physical things:  Like energy flow, the spiritual health of a house can be felt by those sensitive to its influence, but it is important to know that it exists independently of your belief in it.  Those who live in negatively affected space may begin to feel that way themselves, as poor spiritual health in your home has a cumulative effect.  Living spaces can and should be screened for this condition before a purchase is made.

Topography.  The lay of the land… topography (and its inverse, subography) determines more than anything else how well your home is situated on the planet, and it’s degree of connectedness to surrounding areas.  Was the soil appropriate for building; is it fertile enough for planting and gardening?  On your lot are there elevations, pathways, natural barriers and openings, flat areas, rock outcroppings, and room for dogs and kids to roam?  

On the negative side, does your house lie above or near a geologic fault line; is it literally “undermined” by old mining tunnels (not uncommon in western Colorado), or is your lot’s underlying substructure ideal for gas or oil drilling?  Most owners in Colorado own only surface rights to their property, and seldom possess the mineral rights beneath (also learn about the 1951 Oil & Gas Conservation Act).

On the positive side, is your home on or near a desirable natural formation, like a south or southwest facing slope or hillside?  Are there views of landscapes or cityscapes that you need to augment your imagination and creativity?  To let your mind and body roam, is your property adjacent to a national forest, open space, or even a golf course or cemetery?    Does that empty land across the street promise to remain that way via conservation easement, or is it subject to development beyond your control?

Access to Resources.  Whether you as a homeowner are outgoing, community-oriented and gregarious, or self-sufficient, individualistic and to-yourself, your access to resources outside the home is important. Where your home is in relationship to other people, places, and things should be strongly considered. Things like gas prices and traffic will not only affect your commutability to work, but also your convenience to quality schools, adequate shopping, and availability of family and friends. More importantly, time and distance from providers can be critical when it comes to both emergency and routine health care.   Walkability measures how easy and convenient it is to walk (or bike) from your house to where you have to get to on a daily basis without using gasoline!

These are resources that just about everyone needs.  Cultural amenities like libraries, universities and museums also mean a lot to many people.  Natural resources outside your property, like parks, hiking trails, running rivers, etc. are equally as important to others.  Living in the country can be isolating or rewarding, whether for the purpose of quietude and privacy, or simply as a matter of perceived survival. Similarly, life in a suburban subdivision can be sterile and conforming, or it can be comfortable and secure. Know thyself; understand your fit into the rural, urban, and suburban cultures around you, and you will know the resources you require…

Safety & Security.  Often used interchangeably, safety can be defined as your immunity from danger, whether accidental or the result of deliberate behavior.  Security refers to the protection you establish to insure your safety. Feeling safe where you live involves many elements, including good police & fire departments, a low crime rate, gated communities, neighborhood watches, home security systems, etc.  Protecting you, your family and your property against the ever-present threat of criminal behaviour or the possibility of accident is not to be underestimated.

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Additional Helpful Links:

Sources of Indoor Air Pollution

*Selling Points is a proprietary system of evaluating and selling residential property.  Copyright 2014, Paul Hill, All Rights Reserved


Broker, I need you… broker, get lost!

24 Jan

The above sentence describes the biggest love-hate relationship in the residential real estate business. More and more I’m seeing FSBO’s (For Sale by Owners) trying to sell on their own while at the same time inviting a broker to bring a buyer if they can’t find one themselves. If the broker does and the sale closes, they’ll pay that broker a so-called “co-op”; i.e., about half of a typical commission for their trouble. But in addition to beating the seller at the who finds the buyer first game, the catch for the broker is that she has to show up at the seller’s door with that buyer in hand. No advertising, marketing, knowing the owner or even much about the property itself is required ahead of time! Just get that buyer to show up and make a good offer, and everything will be ok.  In theory.

There are a few more complications, like at what point does the seller sign something to promise to pay that commission at closing? Normally, that’s a listing agreement.

But while our seller embraces this marriage of convenience with a “buyer’s agent” for as long as he or she is needed, they’ll sic the dogs on anyone who shows up wanting to get a relationship in writing ahead of time. You may have seen the ads saying “will work w/ a buyer’s agent, but please no calls from listing agents!” Of course sellers do get hassled to death hearing from ambitious brokers who may want to list their property. But that annoyance does not mean the seller should completely trash the idea of working with a good listing agent.

It doesn’t have to be stay away you agents who want to know for whom you’ll work and what you’ll have to do to earn a commission. Yes, that’s called a “listing.” But some sellers think its easier to fly without one, feeling a buyer’s agent and a listing agent are two different kinds of people that work under two sets of rules. Its as if one had 3 legs and 2 arms, and the other 2 legs and 3 arms. While its true that any agent can specialize in working exclusively with buyers or sellers, by and large most good ones do work under one set of rules and can competently and fairly handle both sides of the same street. If I were a buyer, I wouldn’t want to work with a buyer’s broker who had no “on the street” experience with representing sellers. And I couldn’t see the reverse either. One broker has to know what that other broker is thinking since neither one can represent both parties at the same time for the same property. In Colorado, one broker can represent the buyer or the seller, or neither as a neutral third party (a transaction broker), if non-representation is what the customer really wants and just needs someone to shuffle the paper.

Listing agents look for buyers for properties their clients are selling; buyer’s agents search the MLS for homes for buyers they already have (though many buyers checkout properties they find themselves online).

But too many buyer’s agents don’t even look at FSBOs, as they’re not all organized into a single database and thus hard to find. Even if they found the right FSBO, they would have to work with both their buyer and the seller at the same time in some capacity. Some don’t want to do all that work for a half commission (they’d rather do half that work for half the commission). Easier for them to steer their buyer towards an MLS listing that comes complete with another broker ready to share the work.

ADVICE: Sellers, think about working with someone smart enough to market and understand your property from both points of view. Find someone who knows the subtleties and nuances of this complicated market, including the psychology and economics of selling solo. Define the relevant relationships and put it in writing.  Look for someone savvy enough to snag a prospective buyer to come out, take a look, and write an offer maybe. Or at the very least, work professionally with another broker who is already working with their buyer.

Two more Important Safety Tips: 1) with the proper agreement, a FSBO can continue to sell on their own for no commission while their broker seeks a buyer, and 2) all commission rates are negotiable!

A good broker tells his or her client about this stuff, and then does the job professionally for both buyers and sellers, spelling out who does what for whom and how they intend to do it ahead of time. Listing agent or Buyer’s Agent, they’re just two sides of the same coin.