Thursday, November 19, 2009

Have you tried Freak Up dot Com?

So, it's pretty clear that I'm a runner.  I love it, the sweat, the soreness, the athleticism, the (sometimes) comraderie.  This last part wasn't obvious to me until I started to run with my good friend Audge.  Problem is, she lives about 2,000 miles away, so we only get run together a few times a year.
For some reason, finding friends to run with has been... challenging.  My husband runs, and we do run together, but he prefers a slower pace.  Also, it's fun to run with a girlfriend.
Ahh.  Interesting choice of words.
Maybe you've heard of Meetup.  Theoretically, it's a place where you can find people with like interests to do things with, but it is NOT a dating site.  I do have other friends who run, but the one who lives closest is a nurse with odd working hours. (She works 9 to 5, who does that?  Sheesh!)  Ok, by that, I mean she goes out at 5 or 6am, which is akin to hell for me.
I had been told by well meaning folk that this would be a good place to find a running group, or any kind of group that might interest me.  I also love to knit and to read (which qualifies me as a dork, but I've accepted this).  So, I gave it a try.
I typed in Women's Running.  On page one, here is what I found:

In the words of Austin Powers "that's not my bag, Baby!"

Yep, that says Boulder's biggest LBGT- Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender- Party.  Huh?  Those silhouettes look like strippers.  How is this a running group?  This was the first listing.

Next came Not Just a Walk in the Park.  Ok, this could work.  I clicked on it.  Ooh- their next meeting is... September 9.  'Kay.  Seems this group may have given up, as it started in August and each event had about 1 attendee, aaaand it looks like she organized the "group".  Sorry, Mary.

As I went down the list, I found Bake for Hope (hosting bake sales to benefit breast cancer research, last met in May; wonder why it didn't work?); Denver Single Women's Group (next meeting is tonight- at the Denver Center for Cosmetic Surgery. What's the subtext here...?  Plus, the aforementioned husband might not dig this idea); and Denver Golf Gals (ok, there's still about 6 inches of snow on the ground.).  I might be missing something, but where is the running aspect of any of these groups?

A little further down, I noticed Bodies Built By God.  Not sure what to say about this one, but with 90+ religious wars raging around the world at any given time, I'm thinking God doesn't give a crap about the cellulite on my thighs...  This is apparently a private group, but here is, in part, their statement:
If you thirst for worship and could use a little exercise at the same time, or maybe you are curious about Jesus but have never been involved with church or community, then we would love to invite you to come join Bodies Built By God. All fitness levels are welcome so please give us a call or email to reserve your spot in one of our classes. We would love to have you be part of our community where God works your body and your soul at the same time.

Wow.  Does this mean God is leading the class?  I wonder what he looks like in a leotard?

I'm going to Hell, no doubt about it.

Next I tried Knitting.  1. Practice Chinese in Denver.  2. Tots at 5280- "focused on developing new friendships for toddlers between the ages of 1-3 ".  Do toddlers really have that much trouble finding friends?  Do toddlers even care about finding friends??

Ok, I am ON A ROLL!!  What if I wanted to to join a book club near me?  This is kind of fun... I typed in: "reading."


I think I'll run alone.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Open House Redux: A Few Tips for Open House Success

In my career, I've had mixed success with Open Houses.  I do believe that they can be a valuable tool for attracting attention to properties for sale.  Especially if the house is newly on the market.  Or, conversely, if it has been on the market far too long, but has not yet had an Open House.
Early in my Real Estate Lady profession, I do what many newbies do.  Having no listings of my own, I offered to help colleagues out by holding their properties open.  This idea was designed to gain exposure for both the new listing and the new agent (me).
These experiences taught me how NOT to conduct an Open House.  But in the spirit of being "glass half full", I will share the DOs:
  • DO clean your house!  And not just the weekly vacuum, dust, bathroom cleaning. You've got to do a great big spring cleaning.  In fact, you should do this before you even put your house on the active market. In one of those ill-fated early career open houses I hosted, the sellers decided to start cleaning the morning of the open house.  Potential buyers were greeted at the door with dirty mop water and the teenage son was "cleaning up" by stuffing dirty laundry into his closet.  Wipe fingerprints (and food stains) off the wall, put away the dog bed or litter box (hopefully in another state), take down junior's refrigerator collage.  Serious buyers will open closets, look in drawers, and explore anything behind a closed door.  They do not want to be greeted by a pile of laundry, or an open can of kitchen garbage (another war story for another time).
  • DO take any and all valuables with you.  This includes cash, jewelry, keys- and anything that looks shiny and pretty and you actually care about.  That same darling teenage son who was shoving his smelly sweatsocks into the closet was in fact doing in to cover up the real loot- a couple of shotguns and boxes of ammo.  Seems he was a hunter...
  • DON'T expect to have an open house every week.  It won't work- neighbors will wonder why your house isn't selling, and you'll get more and more frustrated.  Plus, it's just plain exhausting.  If you hold your house open every weekend and it doesn't sell for 30-45 days, everyone will start to wonder what's wrong with the house.  Your Realtor will know what the average time to sell a home like yours is in your market and will come up with a strategy that will bring the best positive exposure.
  • LEAVE. Go away.  Skedaddle!  Buyers do not want to be trailed by an anxious seller when they are looking through their possible new home.  Buyers agents, however, LOVE THIS.  Why?  Because most sellers cannot help but spill out their deepest, darkest reasons for selling: pending divorce, job loss, job transfer, or the fact that they'd be happy to take $10,000 under listing price AND leave all appliances and their antique grandfather clock just to be done with the whole thing.  Even if you don't have extenuating circumstances such as these, it's just less stressful for everyone if you aren't there.  Most open houses are only a few hours long.  Go see a movie, go shopping, go for a hike.  But do NOT stay there.

I hosted another open house where I "made sure" the sellers would not be home.  I spoke to the husband, as the wife didn't speak English, and tried to emphasize the fact that they should leave.  When I got there, the house was dark and quiet, so I set up shop and placed my signs.  Then I heard a strange noise.  Is that water?  Should I call a plumber?  Nope.  The wife was taking a shower.  Shortly after that the husband arrived with teenage daughter and her 3 girlfriends.  I reminded him that it would be best not to hang around, as we had discussed.  He understood.  He agreed.  He left.  Alone.  Teenagers opened up their Burger King bags and had lunch while mom watched TV and the open house visitors walked in and immediately left.  Can you imagine why?
Happy Selling!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do you trust your lender? Bank of the West Costs Buyer the Deal

Today on the Tom Martino radio show, a caller phoned in to share an unbelievable story.  Only it was all too true.
The buyer and his wife had found their dream home after going to Bank of the West and getting a prequal letter.  They negotiated a successful offer on the property and were under contract.  After completing all necessary steps- submitting an earnest money check, submitting a completed mortgage application, completing inspection, getting title insurance- they set their closing date.  Two days ahead of time they contacted the lender to be sure that everything would go through as planned.  "Absolutely," they were told.  "No problem at all, we will see you on Friday."
Friday morning they awoke with excitement and anticipation.  Today would be the day that they would close on their dream home.  In the state of Colorado, possession usually takes place at the time of closing, so they were set to enjoy a romantic dinner in their brand new home.
Two hours before closing, they got a call.  The lenders were trying to verify employment.  It seems that the banker never started the loan process.
They didn't close that day.  The seller refused to extend the closing date and kept their $2,000 earnest money. 
They sold their previous home and now no longer had their dream home to move into.  The sellers don't want to work with them at all.  Tom is getting the would-be buyers a lawyer.
And we wonder how banking got to be such a mess. 

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A short list of good reasons to make Denver home

Among the many good reasons to live in Colorado, housing ranks right up there.  Despite the report in the Denver Post today, we are healthy, wealthy and wise(Denver metro home resales drop in October - The Denver Post).  At least according to what the lists would tell us.  Even the article referred to does not paint a bleak picture.  Although the numbers for October were down year over year (a 7.6% drop), they are still up 2.9% month over month!
We've got it pretty good in Colorado.  Median home prices are also UP- 7.7% for single family homes, and 3.5% for condos.  Pent up demand coupled with a decline in inventory helps drive prices up a bit.  What's more, despite the nations dismal 10+% unemployment rate, Colorado sits at 7% unemployment.  In other words 93% of Coloradans have jobs. 
A few other good reasons to live here:
300 days of sunshine a year.
Denver is the highest educated city: of those above the age of 25, 78.9% of the population has graduated high school, and 34.5% hold at least a bachelor's degree.
We live within 2 hours' drive of the most fabulous skiing in the world.
63.4% of those working in the city also live there.
Starting next summer, 14th Street will be transformed into a more 'walkable' space, complete with bike lanes and racks.
What's your favorite reason for living in the Denver area?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Realtors: Home sales jump in West - Denver Business Journal:

Realtors: Home sales jump in West - Denver Business Journal:
This is great news. If the extension is approved, we could see even more gains in a traditionally slow time of year. That's good for buyers, sellers AND investors!

Monday, November 2, 2009

How's the Market in Your Neighborhood? Another Look at Belle Creek

Because I live in Belle Creek- and because I purchased my home in 2001 when the market was insane- I have a vested interest in what our micro-market is doing.  I regularly check out the solds, under contracts, new listings.  Being a runner, I usually notice when something new pops up in the neighborhood.

So, when I blogged last week about what has sold recently in the neighborhood, I admit, I wasn't showing you the whole story.  Being a mixed-use community, we have townhomes, cottages, series 1 homes and series 2 homes.  Being in close proximity to the development world has taught me about some of the builder-ese that is used in a master planned area.  Buyers may know their homes as a "Logan" or one of the "Wellshire Collection".  I just know my house is in the 2 series...

Enough blathering, let's get to the meat of the issue.

In the past year, 20 homes have sold in Belle Creek.  Prices were holding steady until just recently.  On average, Belle Creek homes were getting about $105 per square foot overall.  This was regardless of which model was sold. 
In the past 3 months, however, we have seen that number take a nose dive.  Price per square foot is now at a frightening $90 per square foot!  There would have to be some sort of reason why.  That reason may surprise you.  I know it did me.

As it just so happens, until a month or so ago, there was still builder inventory available.  There were a couple of homes that were built but never closed back when BC was just forming.  These 2 homes were on the market for quite awhile- over 650 days, as a matter of fact.  Quick math- nearly 2 years.

So, when you are a retailer (of sorts), and you have inventory that doesn't move, what do you do?

Slash prices!  Have a Clearance Sale! 

The good news about this is that they sold.  We now have 2 formerly vacant houses that will have nice neighbors living in them.  That brings our home values as a neighborhood up. 

The not-so-good news is that they were reduced so severely that they dragged the value of the neighborhood (in price per sqft) down.

The verdict:  if you don't have to sell now, maybe you'd be better off waiting for awhile.  But if you know of someone who has been wanting to live in Belle Creek, it is a great time for them to buy.

Next:  A breakdown by price point and home size.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Avoid Hitting The Wall

Avoid Hitting The Wall
I've heard of Hitting the Wall (now more commonly known as Bonking) so many times it has become cliche. You run until your body just gives out, anecdotally in mile 25 of a marathon, just when you are about to make the final push. Or sometimes right at mile 26 when you can see the finish line. We have seen the videos of just such a tragedy- Especially Julie Moss's tragic finish at IronMan 1982.

I couldn't believe that I hit it so hard when I did. Now I know why and how to avoid it next year.