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5 Cool Things to Do with Your Attic Space

Whether you have a modest home or a massive one, there’s a good chance your attic space is either empty or used solely for storage. With all of today’s design ideas and technologies, though, you can turn your attic into just about anything you can imagine. Here are five cool things you can do with your attic space.

attic space 300x200 5 Cool Things to Do with Your Attic Space#1 – Make It a Family Room

Some families use their main living rooms as their gathering spaces; others reserve their living rooms for entertaining and rarely use them otherwise. If you fall into the latter category, you certainly aren’t alone. These days, more and more homeowners are converting their unused attic spaces into second living rooms to use as a central hub for their families. Some skylights, hardwood flooring, drywall, and a clever spiral staircase can do wonders, and it will allow you to keep your living room on the main floor in pristine condition.

#2 – Create a Game Room

Homeowners often wish they had space for a rec room – a place where families can gather to play video games, watch movies, shoot pool, or just sit down for a friendly game of cards. Your attic provides the perfect opportunity if you choose to utilize it. In this case, all you’d need is a rough finish and ample HVAC for comfort before you start moving in your dartboard, foosball table, and other sources of fun and games.

#3 – Build a Massive Walk-In Closet

Depending on the age and style of your home, you might find that your closet space isn’t sufficient for your clothes, shoes, and accessories. Fortunately, your attic can be converted into a wardrobe of massive proportions. In fact, with some planning, you can divide your attic into separate spaces to give each member of the family his or her own walk-in closet. The attic space should be enough to keep seasonal clothing on display while keeping out-of-season items safely tucked inside chests or tubs.

#4 – Build a Man Cave or She Shack

Man caves and their feminine counterparts, often dubbed “she shacks”, are essentially retreats from the rest of the home. Men often set up bars, video games, and mini movie theaters, while women may create crafting tables or even a spa-like atmosphere. The attic is a great place for this as it’s out of the way, and if you soundproof the floor, it’ll almost be like your home away from home, too.

#5 – Create an Office or Studio

If you work from home, or if you’re into arts and crafts, then you’re aware of just how much space these things require. Offices require space for files, computers, printers, comfortable seating, and more. Studios are often filled with equipment and supplies, and they require sufficient space for working, too. The attic space is a great place for offices and studios because they allow you to escape the hustle and bustle of the main floors to work in peace. They also provide more space for storage, which can go a long way toward reducing downstairs clutter.

Your attic space can become anything you want – a family room, rec room, closet, man cave, or even art studio isn’t out of reach. Finishing an attic can extend your living space, reduce downstairs clutter, and provide an escape from the daily goings-on all at the same time.

5 Home Renovations to Do This Summer

Whether you’re considering selling your Denver-area luxury home or you want to give your current home more appeal, summer is a great time to think about home improvements. Here are five home renovations you’ll want to consider this summer.

#1 – Remodeling Your Kitchen

A kitchen remodel is a big undertaking. Not only do you need to choose new appliances, fixtures, and even cabinetry, but you’ll also need to find ways to prepare food while construction is underway. Kitchen home renovations are for improving overall value, too. Summer is the absolute best time to start your kitchen remodel for one main reason – the weather. After all, you can’t entertain guests in a kitchen under construction, but you certainly can entertain them outdoors. It’s a great time to put some food on the grill and enjoy a meal al fresco.

#2 – Redoing Your Bathroom

When buyers look at homes, they pay the most attention to the kitchen, but the bathroom comes in a close second. If you have one or more bathrooms with outdated designs or fixtures, summer is a good time to get those renovations underway. Think about replacing fixtures, tiles, shower controls, vanities and sinks, and even wallpaper, if present. These things can completely change the way your bathroom looks and feels, which can add value to your home.

home addition 300x199 5 Home Renovations to Do This Summer#3 – Adding Rooms or Extensions

If you’ve thought about adding an extension to your home in the past, the summer months afford the perfect opportunity. These home renovations are costly – up to $45,000 for a single bedroom, in fact – but they will pay off in the long run. The most common home addition is a bedroom, though it’s possible to add a bathroom, extended kitchen, or even a full upper level. Again, these additions can add significant value to your home by increasing the available living space.

#4 – Replacing Your Windows

If your windows are decades old, there’s a good chance they need to be replaced. In the last 20 years, technology has improved to the point that the windows you can buy today are far more efficient than the ones you bought only 10 years ago. Window tint, triple-paned glass, and even special gases trapped between the panes of glass can improve your home’s energy efficiency. Of course, new windows also make your home look better, which makes it more appealing to you – and to potential buyers should you choose to sell. This is one of the most important home renovations of them all.

#5 – Finishing Your Basement

If your home has an unfinished basement, this area represents underutilized living space. Most unfinished basements are used for laundry and storage, and they usually house major appliances like HVAC systems, water heaters, and even water filtration systems. Finishing your basement won’t always net you a massive return on your investment, so it may not improve the value of your home by more than what you spend. However, in the long run, the extra living space will make your home feel larger, and it may improve the rate at which it sells.

Home renovations like these can make your home feel more like a home, both to you and to potential buyers. Kitchens and bathrooms are very important, and replacement windows can reduce energy bills by quite a bit, too. Room additions and basement renovations aren’t quite as profitable, but they can make your home more attractive to buyers or give you more living space.

Why Summer Home Sales are So Slow in Denver

While there’s certainly no magical day of the year that guarantees your home will sell, there are a few climate-based factors that come into play. According to recent statistics, summer home sales in Denver plummet, and homes spend far more time on the market in July, August, and September than any other time of the year.

summer home sales 300x197 Why Summer Home Sales are So Slow in DenverWhat the Statistics Say

There’s plenty of data available to show sales rates throughout the year based on individual time zones. When it comes to Mountain time, summer home sales take a nosedive in August and don’t really pick up again until December. Some statistics taken from 2015 MLS data prove this. In the months of July and August, homes are 50% and 55% less likely to sell when compared to average, respectively. Hundreds of real estate agents in the Mountain time zone agreed that these months are the worst months to put a home on the market.

Why Do Summer Home Sales Drop?

Per the research, there are a few different factors that lead to plummeting summer home sales. These include the following:

  • High temperatures. In July and August, it’s not uncommon for temperatures to soar past 100 degrees. What’s more, the heat lingers throughout September, and sometimes even into early October. When it’s this hot outside, people are less interested in attending showings and open houses, and they aren’t interested in moving.
  • Prices are higher. If you really take the time to study the numbers, homes tend to sell for significantly less during the winter months. This is true for not only Denver, but also for the rest of the country. People tend to avoid summer home sales because holding out until winter can save them tens of thousands of dollars and lessen their monthly mortgage rates.
  • There are more homes on the market. Summer home sales also plummet in Denver because there are simply more homes from which buyers can choose. Most sellers will perform some exterior renovations before listing, and this requires warm temperatures and nice weather. These sellers will wait until the work is complete to list, and that’s why you’ll find very few homes on the market in the winter when compared to summer. Because buyers have a larger selection, homes tend to stay on the market far longer.

The Perfect Time to List Your Home

According to statistics gathered over several years by the MLS, the best time to list a home in the Denver, Colorado area is early May. This will allow you to get your home listed early – before many other sellers – and at the precise time when shoppers start looking for their new homes. It’ll ensure you receive plenty of offers before July and August to avoid the summer home sales drop, and it’ll also help you get more out of your home since homes tend to sell for far less in December through late March.

Summer home sales in Denver are certainly slow. The temperature, the number of listings, and even the average prices all play a role in this. By listing your Denver-area home in early May, you’ll find the perfect balance – you can sell your home more quickly, and for a better price.

Why You Need to Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy a Home

You’ve been searching for your perfect dream home, and you’ve found one that fits all your criteria. It has the right number of bedrooms in just the right sizes, the full bath you’ve always dreamed of, and even a finished basement. However, location really is important, and if you don’t know the neighborhood, you may end up regretting your decision. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you make an offer.

What’s the Crime Rate?

Just because a neighborhood might seem nice on the outside, this doesn’t mean that crime isn’t growing. After all, many once upscale neighborhoods across the country are now riddled with crime. Make use of online crime maps, contact the city’s police department, and ask some of the people in the area. Store clerks can even be very helpful in this regard as they spend several hours per day interacting with the locals.

know the neighborhood 300x211 Why You Need to Know the Neighborhood Before You Buy a HomeHow Are the Schools?

Once you’ve determined the crime rate, the next big question comes down to the school systems. Some areas will allow you to choose from a number of different schools within a particular zone; other areas may require you to send your child to a particular elementary, middle, or high school based solely on your address. Learn more about the school system in your district, and if you aren’t pleased, find out about tuition for sending your child to another public school, or perhaps even a private school, instead.

Is There Public Transportation?

While public transportation may not be all that important to you right now, there may come a time when you depend on it to help you get around, even for a few days at a time. Find out whether you will have access to a bus, shuttle, train, or other public transportation system that can get you to your most important destinations. Work, shopping, and even doctors’ appointments should all be important considerations.

Are There Kids in the Area?

If you have kids, then you’ll likely want to live in an area where there are other families with kids, too. This makes it easier for friends to spend time with one another without having to depend on mom, dad, or another caregiver to drive them to and from. With a little research, you can find out if there are other families in the area who have kids the same ages as yours. It’s just part of getting to know the neighborhood.

What’s the Demographic?

Finally, while it’s not important to everyone, you can’t really get to know the neighborhood unless you understand the overall demographic. Will you be the wealthy family on the block, or will you feel like you’re struggling to keep up with those around you? Are most of the other families elderly couples, couples with young children, or even young singles? These things can help you better understand your area.
Getting to know the neighborhood is an important step in your homebuying journey. A home may seem perfect inside and out, but things like crime, schools, and even the demographic are also very influential. Do your research before you buy, and your new house will truly feel like a home.

Selling Homes Quickly: What to Do When Your Home Just Won’t Sell

You’ve finally put your home up on the market, and you’re excited for the offers to start rolling in. You’ve done a great job remodeling and staging, your home looks amazing, and your real estate agent is confident. However, weeks go by, and you’ve only gotten a handful of offers that aren’t really what you expected. What went wrong? Here are some tips for selling homes quickly, especially if they’ve been on the market a while.

Consider More Improvements

Selling homes quickly is simpler in some markets than in others. In fact, homes in one Denver neighborhood may sell in just a couple weeks while those in other neighborhoods sit on the market for months. If you find that your home just isn’t selling – or maybe you’re just getting lowball offers – consider making a few more simple improvements here and there. For example, a different color paint in the kitchen, different fixtures in the bathroom, and perhaps even more modern window treatments can make a world of difference. You may not need an all-out remodel, but a few slight improvements may go a very long way.

selling homes quickly 300x225 Selling Homes Quickly: What to Do When Your Home Just Wont Sell

Cut the Price

If it’s been a few months since you put your home on the market and you continue to get low offers, you may need to cut your price. This is especially true if you have interested buyers who just can’t seem to get financed by a variety of different lenders. Consider your appraisal, tax assessment, and other factors, then look at the offers you’ve received. Try to come up with a lower price that’s fair to the buyer, but one that isn’t going to cause you to practically give your home away. A good real estate agent can help you adjust your asking price.

Consider Renting Temporarily

There are times when, no matter how nice your home might be, and no matter where it’s located, it might just take some time to sell. For this reason, many Denver-area homeowners have rented their homes temporarily while waiting for a buyer. This can be tough, especially if you’ll be showing the home while a renter is present. Market your rental to individuals or families who will only be in the area a short time, or to those who may be in a situation opposite yours – they’ve sold their own homes, but haven’t found the right one to purchase.

Focus on the Best Parts of “Defective” Homes

If your home is located in a difficult area – near an airport runway, downstream from a farm, etc. – it’s going to be a difficult home to sell. When it comes to selling homes quickly, it’s best to target people who may not mind these “defects”. For example, you may choose to bring a potential buyer’s attention to the soundproof windows, which can help dull the sound of passing aircraft. You might mention that your home has been sealed by professionals to block odors from nearby farms during the warmer months, as well.

Selling homes quickly isn’t about drastically cutting the price and limping away from the deal. Rather, it’s about focusing on the home’s best features, making improvements where necessary, and ensuring that you’re asking a fair price. If all else fails, you may consider renting while you wait for the perfect buyer to come along, too.

Credit Unions vs. Banks: Things to Know When Getting a Loan

When it comes to taking out a mortgage, you probably already know that it’s best to explore all your options. Banks are great places to start, especially if you have a long-term relationship with the bank where you keep your checking and savings accounts. Credit unions aren’t banks, even though the offer many of the same services and benefits. Here’s what you need to know about credit unions vs. banks when it comes to getting a mortgage.

What Makes a Credit Union Different?

The number one biggest difference when it comes to credit unions vs. banks is the money they make. Banks are for-profit institutions that exist to make money on fees and interest. Bank executives, such as CEOs, make millions of dollars each year in this manner. Credit unions, on the other hand, are not-for-profit institutions. Another key difference comes in the way your funds are insured. While the FDIC ensures your funds up to $250,000, funds in credit unions are insured up to the same amount by a group called the NCUA, or the National Credit Union Administration.

Where Does the Money Go?

Since credit unions aren’t for-profit institutions, you may find yourself wondering where all the money from interest and fees goes. With banks, dividends are divided between a relatively small group of executives, shareholders, and others. With credit unions, things are a bit different. Each member of the credit union is also a member, per se, so dividends are divided among each member. While this doesn’t usually equal a large amount of money, it certainly does help members feel as if their contributions matter – and they’re being rewarded for their memberships.

2017 HVAC prices 300x200 Credit Unions vs. Banks: Things to Know When Getting a LoanFees and Interest in Credit Unions vs. Banks

Of course, if you’re interested in getting a major home loan, interest rates are likely one of your biggest considerations. Here’s where a credit union may fall a little short. Because credit unions tend to focus on personal interactions and building relationships with their customers over time, many of these institutions have less stringent credit requirements for mortgages. Unfortunately, this also means you’ll pay higher interest rates – even if they aren’t much higher than those offered by your bank. If you have less-than-perfect credit, though, you might find that your credit union offers better rates than your bank.

Who Should Consider a Credit Union?

If you’re deciding whether you should choose credit unions vs. banks for your home loan, there are a few things to think about. First, if you have a good working relationship with your current bank, it only makes sense to apply for your mortgage there. This is especially true if you’ve had a checking and savings account there for many years, or if you’ve had auto and personal loans from that bank in the past. If you haven’t been with your bank long, or if you have less-than-perfect credit, you might want to consider becoming a member of a local credit union.

The differences in credit unions vs. banks are many, and in some cases, it may be better to apply for a mortgage through a credit union. Remember, though, that interest rates are typically higher – even if you have excellent credit – but you can recoup some of that in terms of dividends and lower fees.

Consider These Bathroom Remodel Ideas Before Selling Your Home

If you’re preparing to put your home on the market, there are two things that you should focus on above all else – your kitchen and your bathroom. These are the two rooms that potential buyers will scrutinize more than the others, so it’s important that they are modern, up-to-date, and attractive. Here are some bathroom remodel ideas to consider before selling.

Colors

The color of your bathroom will make the very first impression on a potential buyer, so it’s important to pay close attention to this. While neutrals are always best when it comes to bathroom remodel ideas before selling your home, these days, bolder colors are becoming quite popular. Black bathroom tiles aren’t uncommon, especially in larger spaces. You can also consider reds, browns, and perhaps even some blues, though it’s important to ensure that these aren’t too bold. The important thing is to leave room for the new buyer’s sense of style, so if your choice of color takes over the entire room, it’ll likely put that buyer off.

Tiles

Bathroom tiles can make a major statement in any size space, so make sure you choose high-quality tiles that are easy to clean, but still aesthetically pleasing. You can mix and match your tiles in different areas of the bathroom as long as they complement each other; for example, you may choose a sand color for your sink and toilet area, but a marbled tile that contains streaks of that sand for your shower and tub area. Be sure to consider texture and grout color, as well, because both of these can have a tremendous impact on the tile’s visual appeal.

bathroom remodel ideas 300x200 Consider These Bathroom Remodel Ideas Before Selling Your HomeFixtures

Next, fixtures are a vital part of all the most popular bathroom remodel ideas today. When potential buyers see modern, high-end fixtures – such as faucets, toilet levers, showerheads, and spouts – they’re more likely to find the space interesting. In fact, many buyers claim that the fixtures in bathrooms alone have inspired some of their best design ideas. For this reason, make sure you splurge on the fixtures. Choose items that complement the architectural style of the room. For example, if the room has an older, classic feel, go for bronzed fixtures. On the other hand, if you’re going for a sleek and modern look, choose squared-off chrome or even brushed nickel.

Style

Finally, all bathroom remodel ideas are about creating a sense of style. If you prefer the traditional vanity, toilet, and shower/tub combo, this is actually preferred among many buyers. However, you might also consider a claw-foot tub and pedestal sink, which are still quite desirable and bring a more “antique” feel to the room. Remember to always stick to whites and off-whites for these appliances since a brightly-colored toilet or tub can confuse potential buyers and make it more difficult for them to imagine themselves in those spaces.

When it comes to bathroom remodel ideas prior to selling your home, you have thousands of options available to you. The best advice is to choose neutral colors, clean tiles, and fixtures that are all cohesive. The goal, after all, is to impress the potential buyers while still leaving room for them to impart their own senses of style.

Things to Consider When Buying a Second Home

Whether you live in Denver and you’re thinking of buying a second home elsewhere, or you want to buy a second home in the Denver area, there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure the entire process goes as smoothly as possible. Here’s what you need to know when buying a second home.

Do You Know Your Long-Term Wants and Needs?

Buying a second home should never be an impulse decision. While it may seem like a great investment, there’s a lot that comes along with being the owner of two separate homes. You’ll need to think about several things, including how you plan to use the home, whether you want your second home to be your retirement home, and even whether you can rent it out when it’s not being used. These things will all factor into your decision, so be sure to carefully consider them before you buy.

get rich with denver real estate 300x169 Things to Consider When Buying a Second HomeDo You Like the Location?

While you may find a gorgeous house that you absolutely love, chances are good that you won’t love it for long if you can’t stand the area. Before you sign the paperwork, take the time to explore the location, including the immediate neighborhood and the “downtown” area, if applicable. Consider everything from the crime rate to the local restaurants, and this will help you make a better decision about your second home.

Is Your Real Estate Agent Local?

If you live in California but you want to buy a second home in Denver, it doesn’t really make sense to have your California real estate agent help you find a home. After all, he or she won’t know the area and the housing market as well as a Denver real estate agent will, which can put you at a disadvantage. When buying a second home, make sure you hire a reputable real estate agent who is from that local area. This way, you have someone on your side who knows the best locations and the best prices.

Do You Understand the Extra Expenses?

When buying a second home, you’ll need to worry about much more than an extra mortgage payment. You’ll have higher homeowner’s insurance rates (especially if your second home is in an area prone to flooding or hurricanes), more taxes to pay, and even increased responsibility for upkeep and maintenance. Now you’ll have two roofs to inspect, two fireplaces to clean, and more. Make sure you consider this carefully before making your purchase.

Can You Rent the Property When It Isn’t in Use?

If your second home will serve as a vacation home, either permanently or up until you retire, you may want to consider renting it out for the extra income. This can help you cover your mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance expenses along the way, but for some homeowners, renting isn’t worth the headaches. You’ll have to be very careful about who you rent to, and you’ll also need to take a trip to inspect your home now and then.

Buying a second home is certainly exciting, but unless you’ve thought things through completely, you might find yourself in over your head. The considerations listed above will help you make a better choice about your purchase, both now and in the future.

Watch Out for These 4 Real Estate Scams

With the growth of the internet and technology, real estate scams have become prevalent in many parts of the country – including right here in Denver. Understanding what’s real and what’s attempted fraud can keep you and your bank account safe. Here are the top four real estate scams in the country today and some tips for avoiding them.

#1 – Title Fraud

Title fraud occurs when a scammer uses falsified documents to pose as the owner of a home. He or she will forge documents to transfer a property into his or her name, and then take out a mortgage on that property. Once the criminal receives the money, he or she simply leaves the owner of the home with the debt. The best way to prevent this type of fraud – or at least minimize it – is to make sure you have title insurance on your property. This way, you’re covered should the worst happen.

impact of crime on real estate values 300x200 Watch Out for These 4 Real Estate Scams#2 – Foreclosure Fraud

While it’s not as common now as it was a decade ago, foreclosure fraud does still occur. In these real estate scams, fraudsters target people who own homes, but who are behind on their payments and facing foreclosure. In most cases, the criminal will offer the homeowner what seems like a legitimate consolidation loan designed to help them avoid foreclosure in exchange for an upfront fee and exchange of the title to the property. However, the criminal keeps all the payments, remortgages the property, and pockets the upfront fee, leaving the homeowner high and dry. To avoid this, be wary of any type of loan that requires upfront payments or a title exchange.

#3 – Online Home Sales

The internet is a valuable tool for buying a home, but it’s important that you take the time to thoroughly evaluate every single situation. One of the biggest real estate scams today involves online home sales. Scammers find homes that are listed for sale and then impersonate real estate agents from the company that has the home listed. They’ll pretend to take paperwork and get loan approvals, and then they’ll take the buyer’s money. Unfortunately, when the buyers go to move in, they find the home already occupied by the real buyer. Avoiding this scam is easy enough; make sure you contact the real estate company yourself regularly.

#4 – Seminars, Courses, and Webinars

Many homeowners (and would-be homeowners) can benefit from legitimate courses, seminars, and webinars that educate them on buying and investing in real estate. While there are certainly several very good speakers and teachers out there, there are others who have only one true intention – getting you to “invest” in a surefire thing that will make you money. In the end, you may find yourself out hundreds of dollars in seminar fees, and if you actually purchase one of these so-called “investment” homes, you may find yourself the owner of a money pit, too. Always do your research on the speaker before purchasing anything.

Real estate scams aren’t as prevalent as they were during the housing market collapse, but they do still exist. The best way to protect yourself is to stay educated and understand the different ways in which fraudsters will attempt to con you out of your money.

Getting the Most out of Mortgage Quote Comparison Websites

Whether you’re buying your first home or your third, the processes involved in choosing the right mortgage can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Numerous mortgage quote comparison websites exist to help you weigh your options, but it’s important that you use them wisely to get the most out of them.

Interest Rates Aren’t the Only Consideration

When it comes to finding the right mortgage, most homeowners will look primarily at interest rates. In fact, this is the number one filter when it comes to mortgage quote comparison websites. It’s true that lower interest will save you plenty of money over time, but you should never agree to a loan just because it comes with a great interest rate. There’s fine print to read, penalties to understand, and even the lender’s overall reputation and financial stability. These things can all affect you in the future, so be sure to research each lender thoroughly.

credit score 300x199 Getting the Most out of Mortgage Quote Comparison WebsitesKnow Your Credit Score and Debt-to-Income Ratio

While your credit score is a huge deciding factor when it comes to getting an accurate mortgage quote comparison, it isn’t the only thing you need to know. Your debt-to-income ratio will also play a major role in what you can qualify for, including not only the maximum mortgage amount, but also the interest rate. To qualify for a jumbo loan with a fantastic rate, you’ll need more than just good credit – you’ll need an excellent credit rating and several open credit accounts. You’ll also need a solid debt-to-income ratio. Ideally, your debt should not total more than 40% of your income.

Be Truthful

While a mortgage quote comparison website should only be used as a guideline, it’s important that you answer any questions you’re asked truthfully. While you may think that fudging a little on your annual income or your credit card debt won’t hurt anything, it may present a significant issue when it comes to applying for a loan. For example, while the website may tell you that a specific bank will loan you up to $750,000, if your income is less than what you provided, or if you have more credit card debt than you let on, you might find that number has shrunk significantly by the time your loan makes it through underwriting.

Try More than One Website

Mortgage quote comparison websites work with networks of lenders. You fill out a single application, and that information is fed to as many as 20 or 30 different lenders to help give you an idea of what you might qualify for. However, different websites have different networks, so you may want to try a few for a broader reach. You may see the same big-name lenders on every site, but the smaller lenders may be different.

All in all, getting the most out of a mortgage quote comparison website is about knowing your credit score and your debt-to-income ratio, being honest when you fill out the quote form, using more than one website to get results, and paying attention to more than just the interest rate you’re offered. When you follow these tips, you’ll have plenty of lending options available to suit your needs.