Denver…Owning Makes More Sense

Denver has experienced yet another 12 month cycle where median prices have increased between 7 & 9% over the previous year. Some folks in Denver will tout their analysis yet most others could be missing as much as 17% of the actual closed data when they report. And it really does not matter as it is only an indication of the market, not what it is like in your neighborhood. That can only be determined with a deep dive into your local statistics including sales and under contracts. But think about this as you contemplate the value of your home…

When comparing the cost of owning a home to renting, there is more than the difference in house payment against the rent currently being paid. It very well could be lower than the rent but when you consider the other benefits, owning could be much lower than renting.denver

Each mortgage payment has an amount that is used to pay down the principal which is building equity for the owner. Similarly, the home appreciates over time which also benefits the owner by increasing their equity.

There are additional expenses for owning a home that renters don’t have like repairs and possibly, a homeowner’s association. To get a clear picture, look at the following example of a $300,000 home with a 3.5% down payment on a 4.5%, 30-year mortgage.

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The total payment is $2,264 including principal, interest, property taxes, property and mortgage insurance. However, when you consider the monthly principal reduction, appreciation, maintenance and HOA, the net cost of housing is $1,218. It costs $1,282 more to rent at $2,500 a month than to own. In a year’s time, it would cost $15,000 more to rent than to own which is more than the down payment and closing costs to buy the home.

With normal amortization and 3% annual appreciation, the $10,500 down payment in this example turns into $112,00 in equity in seven years. Check out your own numbers using the Rent vs. Own or call me at (303) 880-5585. Owning a home makes sense and can be one of the best investments a person will ever make.

Again, as you consider the chart above 7.6% appreciation would be more appropriate for last year in Denver. WOW! Contact me for more info.

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A Word Denver Homeowners Need to Understand

What is your mortgage balance? Well, that is one answer, but the new tax law has a very specific reference for the term Acquisition Debt as it relates to Denver home owners, and others around the country. So read on to learn more, then talk to you tax adviser as to the effects this will have on re-financing your current Denver mortgage, or buying a new home here, in Littleton or in another part of the country.

Acquisition Debt is the amount of money borrowed used to buy, build or improve a principal residence or second home. Under the new tax law, mortgages taken after 12/14/17 are limited to a combination of $750,000 on the first and second homes. The mortgage interest on this debt is tax deductible when itemizing deductions.denver

It is a dynamic number that is reduced with each payment as the unpaid balance goes down. The only way to increase acquisition debt is to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Prior to the new law, homeowners could additionally borrow up to $100,000 of home equity debt for any purpose and deduct the interest when itemizing deductions. Mortgage interest on home equity debt is no longer deductible unless it is for capital improvements.

Acquisition debt cannot be increased by refinancing. Some confusion occurs because mortgage lenders are concerned in making home loans that will be repaid according to the terms of the note and using the home as collateral. That does not include making a tax-deductible mortgage.

Another thing that adds confusion to the issue is that the lenders will annually report how much interest was paid in a year but only the amount that is attributable to acquisition debt is deductible.

Even if the interest on the cash-out refinance is not deductible, it may be advantageous to pay off higher interest debt such as credit card debt and replacing it with lower mortgage debt.

It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to know what part of their mortgage debt is deductible. The challenge becomes more difficult after a cash-out refinance. Homeowners should keep records of all financing and capital improvements and consult with their tax professional.

The key here is to consult with your Denver tax adviser BEFORE a re-finance to find out the effects on your tax return. Most good loan officers will be able to answer the question, but a tax adviser is best. To find either a tax adviser or a loan officer go to https://www.denverrelocation.com/vendors.shtml.

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Denver and Unexpected Expenses

Yesterday I had one of those…our AC went out over the weekend. Saturday was not bad. Sunday was a tad warm. Yesterday in Denver, it was nearly miserable, with what we consider HIGH HUMIDITY too. So wishing I had something like a plan they are speaking about could only be wishing. What happened I learned about AC units though. I heard it trying to start and it normally would on the 3rd or 4th try. But the tech tells me it is the capacitor and I was lucky it kept starting. Also wash out the “compressor aka condenser” so there is no cotton/dirt plugging it. Clean/vacuum the blower housing and CHANGE THE FILTER so you do not kill the unit. But read on to find out this good incentive…

It’s common for Sellers to consider offering a home warranty or protection plan to make their home more marketable. A growing number of homeowners are now purchasing this type of protection for themselves to limit the unexpected expenses of repairs and replacements.denver

A home protection plan is a renewable service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the components in a home. Some homeowners especially like the convenience that it organizes a qualified service provider as well as the cost of the repairs or replacements.

There are a variety of companies that offer home warranties and the coverage may differ but the majority of things will include heating, air conditioning, most built-in and some free-standing appliances, as well as other specific items. Additional specific coverage may be available for other items like pool and spa equipment.

Some investors are even placing this coverage on their rental properties to limit the amount of repairs during the year. It is a viable way to manage the financial risk and the stress dealing with unexpected expenses.

Call me at (303) 880-5585 if you’d like a recommendation of available programs. Or CONTACT ME

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Don’t Let a Killer In – Colorado

Colorado enacted a law many years ago that requires a carbon monoxide detector within 15 feet of every “sleeping area” before the home is sold. Denver is pretty good about this as they only cost $40-50 and are easy to install. Here is part of why the state legislature enacted this law…

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer you don’t want in your home but because it is colorless and odorless; you may not even be aware the deadly condition exists. The Center for Disease Control says more than 400 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning and over 10,000 require medical treatment each year.Denver, colorado

Unmaintained furnaces, water heaters and appliances can produce the deadly gas. In addition, other sources could be leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene or gas space heaters or exhaust from cars or trucks operating in an attached garage.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following to reduce exposure in the home:

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use
  • Do not idle car inside garage
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually

Headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feelings of weakness or fatigue are a few of the most common symptoms. Lower levels of exposure to carbon monoxide may be mistaken for the flu.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be on every level of a home and especially, in sleeping areas. The alarms can be purchased for as little as $25 and plugged into the wall like a night light.

Regardless of the government requirements, no one would want to put their family, guests or themselves at risk for something so deadly.

Contact me if you want more information on this state law and the requirements affecting Colorado & Denver.

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Denver…Waiting Will Cost More

As I sit here and edit the little addendum I can hardly believe how our prices in Denver have increased and interest rates have too! And then there is a couple I am working with to try and find a home who have been here for 6 months “waiting” and they have found that very thing…prices in the 300 to 400k range have increased by about 7% and interest rates have gone up too, making it harder to afford a home they “could learn to love”. It is a hard lesson when the right house disappears from under you because someone acted faster than you and that is a regular part of the orientation into the Denver market I do for buyers. And sellers start to wonder when their home is not sold in 5 days! What a crazy market here in Denver!

An economist responded when asked how interest rates would change: “They may fall some and then, rise and after that, they’ll fluctuate.”Denver

Just because interest rates have been low for ten years doesn’t mean they are supposed to be low. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and are expected to go up twice more plus three times next year. Mortgage rates have risen from 3.95% to 4.62% since the first of January.

Increased rates directly affect the payments on homes but so does the price. With inventory levels remaining low, the prices will continue to go up. When interest rates and prices rise at the same time, it costs buyers a lot more.

If the mortgage rates go up by one percent and prices increase by five percent in the next year, the payment on a $250,000 home could go up by $200 a month. In a seven-year period, the buyer would pay $18,000 more for the home.

People planning to buy a home, need to investigate the possibilities of accelerating their timetable to take advantage of lower rates and prices. Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to see how much more it could cost you to wait. Call (303) 880-5585 if you have questions about what can be done now. Or contact me.

Cost of Waiting in Denver

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The Tax Difference in Second Homes

Many folks who live in Highlands Ranch have 2nd homes in the mountains. Some are fishing cabins while others are condos for ski weekends, or you might find a true replacement residence. The truth is that some of the tax law changes form last year might affect those home owners in Highlands Ranch. So read on…

A principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, but they have some key tax differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used mainly for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.Highlands Ranch

Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is reduced from a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt to a maximum of $750,000 combined acquisition debt for both the first and second homes.

Property taxes on first and second homes are deductible but limited to a combined maximum of $10,000 together with other state and local taxes paid.

The gain on a principal residence retained the exclusion of $250,000/$500,000 for single/married taxpayers meeting the requirements. Unchanged by the new tax law, the gains on second homes must be recognized when sold or disposed.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for property used for personal purposes such as second homes. Gain on second homes owned for more than 12 months is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate.

This article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.

Should you need a good Highlands Ranch CPA or tax adviser, contact me. I can put you in touch. OR, if you want to buy that mountain getaway, let me know that too, as I know quite a few good mountain Realtors.

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When Neighbors Don’t Seem to Care

How many times I have addressed this issue when marketing a home for sale here in Denver I cannot say. In the old days neighbors would band together to water and mow the front yards of abandoned, or even properties that were in foreclosure. Some folks do run into financial issues, and my experience here in Denver has been 2 fold: a. they appreciate the help or b. they bury their heads even further hoping things will fix themselves. Either way, a neighborly offer of help may be the most appropriate way of approaching the folks involved. You might even find they could use help from someone like myself (introductions appreciated).

A home that isn’t being maintained like others in the neighborhood can negatively affect your visual sense of appeal and in some extreme cases, even affect property values. It might be an overgrown yard, a fence in need of repair, excessive noise, unruly pets, paint peeling on the home or even a car or boat parked in front of the home that hasn’t moved in weeks.

Denver

Most people want to be good neighbors and may be willing to correct an issue once it is brought to their attention. A practical but possibly, confrontational solution is to contact the responsible person and describe your perception of the issue. However, they may not always agree with the same urgency and it might be necessary to seek other remedies.

An owner-occupant may be more sympathetic to the neighbors and willing to correct the issue. If you think the home might be a rental property, check with the county tax records or me, to identify the owner. They may be unaware of the situation and welcome the notification to protect their investment.

Another alternative might be to notify the homeowner’s association, if there is one. One of the benefits of a HOA is to enforce community appearance standards as set in the covenants or bylaws that specify how properties must be maintained. This could be a less personal method of reaching a beneficial outcome.

If the source of the problem is a code or housing violation, the city may be the ultimate authority. Most cities have a separate code and neighborhood services division and some cities have 311 for non-emergency assistance.

Talk to your neighbor first! We had a barking dog out back and she barked well into the early morning hours in our quiet suburban neighborhood of Denver. The past 5 years there was nothing like this from the dog but my blood was boiling! When I called I had calmed down and the neighbor explained his son had fallen off a roof, broken his neck, and they had been spending their days and nights at the hospital, never thinking about the dog. They apologized and I almost ate my hat!a So before you turn them in to the authorities here in Denver, or any other part of the world, be neighborly and talk to them first.

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Flag Protocol

As we drive around Highlands Ranch, have you ever noticed American flags being disrespected? I know I am at fault sometimes as I leave mine out overnight without a light being directed towards it. How about you?

The American flag is obviously a symbol of our country but it has come to remind us of every man and woman who has fought for the freedom that we enjoy. The emotions that are stirred by images of our flag can run from happiness to sadness to trust and everything in between.flag2.png

Most of us learned American flag etiquette or the Flag Code when we were young but occasionally, it is a good idea to review the guidelines so that the flag is treated with the respect it deserves.

  • The U.S. flag should not be flown at night unless a light is shown on it.
  • The U.S. flag should not be flown upside down except as a distress signal.
  • The flag should never touch the ground.
  • A U.S. flag should be displayed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff in mourning.
  • When displaying multiple flags of a state, community or society on the same flagpole, the U.S. flag must always be on top.
  • When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. No flag should be higher or larger than the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
  • When the U.S. flag is flown with those of other countries, each flag should be the same size and must be on separate poles of the same height. Ideally, the flags should be raised and lowered simultaneously.

More information on flag etiquette can be found at the Veterans of Foreign Wars website.

As you drive around Highlands Ranch or other parts of Denver and you see a flag, think of those who gave all for us. Then think about how you display our American flag.

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Second Guessing Price

Sorry to say this happens all the time in Denver…”my place is worth more than that!” So we list it higher than market, get 50 showings and sell it for $5k less than the original recommendation. My job is to get you the highest price we can for that Denver area home, not to low-ball it to make it easy. But you need to trust that. And the only way you can truly trust someone is by looking into their eyes and seeing their commitment to you. A first place to go is my “standards” page. A bit old school, but I do my best to live it. Now read the story…

Imagine a homeowner consulting with their agent about the price to place on their home. The agent suggests that the market data indicates that $200,000 to 210,000 would produce a quick sale by pricing it properly. The owner puts a $210,000 price on the home.76605908-250.jpg

The first person who looks at the home offers $205,000. When the seller receives the offer, he comments that he thinks he priced the home too low and counters for full price. The counter-offer is rejected, the home stays on the market and at the end of the first month when based on market conditions, the home should be sold, no other offers have been made.

It may be human nature that when an offer is received so quickly, the first thought to come to mind is that it was priced too low. A more appropriate thought might be that it was priced correctly. In some cases, when a home comes on the market, there is increased competition (real or perceived) among the buyers waiting for the “right” home to come on the market. The home can sell for a higher price than if it sits on the market for several months.

There may be stories of sellers who turned down the first offer and ended up receiving a better offer that would net more money. However, real estate professionals say the first scenario occurs frequently.

The wisdom of experience advises owners to find a real estate professional that they trust and have confidence. Allow that professional to become familiar with your home and compare it to similar homes in the market that have sold recently and ones currently on the market. Determine the demand for homes in the area compared to the inventory. Decide on a price that will allow the home to sell within a relatively short period of time. And lastly, be satisfied if your home sells quickly near the price you put on it.

Of course you can free to contact me about your Denver home’s value.

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A Denver Home for Tomorrow

Most folks I talk to here in Denver seem to be afraid of a bubble bursting as it did in 2008. Statistically, that started in 2006, and some of us started to notice that early. I am asked about when prices will start to fall… that answer is when we see over 180 days on the market average for 2 straight months. Right now the average is 32 days on market while the median is only 6 days on market. So it does not look like things will change anytime soon. What is the difference between average and median? The average sale price in Denver in April was $484,795 while the median was $451,311.

Prices continue to move up at a quick pace indicating that if there is a move planned in the next 2-3 years, you should do it now to take advantage of the prices on the new place. It will not be cheaper in 2 years. Statistics and history show a traditional appreciation rate in Denver of 3 to 6%. At that rate a $400,000 home will be over $475,000 in 3 years in the 7 counties that make up metro Denver.

Now lets talk about retirement housing. For those who do not know I am a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) and can help most folks with the issues they are facing. But read on….

As people near or enter retirement, one of the decisions that typically comes up is whether to sell their “big” home and buy a smaller one. If you know anyone who has been faced with that situation, selling one home and buying a smaller one may not save enough money to make it worthwhile.79996505-250.jpg

There are sales expenses on the property being sold and acquisition costs on the replacement home. Generally speaking, homeowners may not mind a home with less square footage, but they usually don’t want to give up amenities or locations that they’ve become accustomed.

After a little number crunching, the move may not make enough difference in savings and they end up staying in their current home even if it doesn’t fit their needs anymore.

What if while this couple were still in their peak earning years, they acquired a home in an area where they would consider retiring and rent it during the interim. They could put it on a 15-year mortgage and possibly, even accelerate the principal payments to have it paid off by their anticipated move.

In the meantime, they could continue living in the “big” home until it is time to make the transition. Sell the “big” home that may be paid for by then and avoid up to $500,000 of capital gain. Take part of the proceeds and remodel the rental/transitional home and invest the proceeds for retirement income.

Ideally, the former rental would be mortgage free by this point, so the retirees would not have a house payment. Even if at this point, they changed their mind about retiring to this particular home, they still have a property that acted as a hedge against rising prices and have sufficient equity to purchase something else without using the proceeds from the “big” home.

It is difficult to know what the situation will be years from now when a person retires. It is clearly advantageous to have a plan that allows for options and choices. To find out more about purchasing your retirement home today, give me a call at (303) 880-5585. Or reach out and contact me via e-mail.

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