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Colorado market faring better than others

Despite a nationwide housing crisis, homes in Falcon are selling. Three Realtors talked about the Falcon housing market.”At the end of October, 490 single-family houses were for sale in Falcon, now there are 293,” said Mitchell Baldwin of Martinelli Realty in Falcon. Many homeowners have taken their properties off the market, waiting for a better time, but 29 have been sold.Baldwin said buyers are “looking for the well-maintained, clean house that they can get a smokin’ deal on.””You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. When buyers walk into a house that’s for sale, they should say ‘wow! I don’t have to do anything.'”Sellers should fix things and make sure to clean things that are usually overlooked, such as light bulbs. “If it drips, fix it,” Baldwin said. “A buyer will notice anything that needs to be repaired. You need to make it look like you have been maintaining the house. The buyer isn’t going to know that you repaired something just last week.”But don’t go overboard, he added. “I am not a proponent of telling sellers to spend a lot of money. To a great extent, nothing anybody does to a house is going to result in a 100 percent return, but some improvements may help a house sell faster.”A worn carpet is one – it won’t make a good first impression. Baldwin said replace it and don’t offer a carpet allowance. “To me, that’s a red flag telling buyers to offer less,” he said.”I think there are buyers out there. They’re just sitting on the fence waiting for someone to tell them it’s OK.”The Federal Reserve lowered the short-term interest rate on the money it loans to member banks by .75 percent Jan. 22, which Baldwin regards as a good sign. “Mortgage rates are based on the bond market, not the Federal Reserve’s short-term rate, but the two rates tend to parallel each other. Mortgage rates are very good now. You can get 5.5 and 5.75 percent mortgages,” he said.Baldwin also said he thinks the housing market will turn upward when the psychology changes. “People hear that it’s bad and they start to believe it and they pull back and decide not to spend,” he said. “Eventually, people decide it’s not so bad. Interest rates are good and people will realize it’s time to buy, and then you’ll have your upturn.”Falcon Realtor Jody Heffner said sellers should work with a full-time good agent who will properly market a property. “These days, a lot of agents are working part-time jobs and doing this and doing that. Go with people that are in the business and do everything they possibly can to market the house. These days, there’s a lot of Internet-based marketing going on,” Heffner said.Sellers also have to price their homes aggressively. “We’re not in the marketplace we had two to five years ago, where you could throw a house on the market at a certain price and see if somebody bites on it,” Heffner said. “It’s more competitive. It’s taking a little bit longer to sell a house. Buyers are a little leery about what’s going on because of the fear that’s instilled in them by the media.”For those who want to sell this year, Heffner said the best time to sell is between now and June. “Everybody thinks ‘wait until summertime, wait until May.’ The advantage of putting your house on the market now is getting a sale in a more timely manner because there is less supply of homes on the market now, and the buyers are serious buyers, not just looking,” Heffner said.”We’re in a much stronger position than many places across the country. People were buying at top dollar on the coasts, in Arizona and in Nevada, and now they can’t even sell their houses for even close to what they bought them for. But in our marketplace, we’ve leveled off and our prices have been real good because prices never went too high or too low. Our market is not bad in comparison to what everybody else is experiencing.”We’re only going to have this marketplace for a short period of time, meaning six to nine months, and then – and I am sticking my neck our here – we’re going to have a change in prices.The advantage to the local market is that people want to live in Colorado. Heffner also said this is a good time to invest in real estate.”A lot of people are looking right now,” he said. “I put three or four under contract in the last two weeks. It’s a good market. I am optimistic.”Wanda Pridgen is with Rawhide Realty in Calhan and has been selling real estate in the area for 10 years.Pridgen noticed a slowdown in the market in August, but since September she said closings have picked up. “There’s a lot more buyers calling. I just received two full-price offers on two different properties. One is a military family and one a local family,” Pridgen said.Pridgen said sellers make 10 mistakes:

  1. Setting a price that’s too high: “Buyers who look at an overpriced home know they can get more home for their money elsewhere, so you have got to price your house right. Pricing a house 5 per cent over the market value discourages buyers.”
  2. Trying to sell a house in “as is” condition: “In today’s competitive market, most buyers will not even consider a home that needs to be fixed up. Do the least expensive fix-ups you can. Paint. Repair windows. Replace the carpet. Install newer appliances if possible.”
  3. No curb appeal: “Buyers are apt to fall in love at first sight or not at all. Sellers need to spruce up the view of the home from the street, including lawns, shrubs, the front door, shutters, windows, exterior lighting and the mailbox. Put a wreath on the front door. Do whatever you can do to make your home say ‘buy me.'”
  4. Clutter: “Start by ruthlessly getting rid of the junk you’ve accumulated. Clean off counters and clean out cupboards. Get pictures off the refrigerator. The ideal garage stores only cars and perhaps some garden tools. Throw out the junk so the garage looks like there’s room for the buyers’ junk. Storing packed boxes in the garage can make it look cluttered but at least it shows the seller is ready to move. If the house is empty, stage the home and keep it at a comfortable temperature.”
  5. Dreary, dirty interiors: “Buyers want a clean, bright dÈcor. The best dollar-for-dollar investment is a fresh coat of paint. Neutral colors are best. Next to fresh paint is new carpeting. Elbow grease can be as effective as spending cash. Clean each room from top to bottom. Focus on the kitchen, master bedroom and garage. Make sure the oven and refrigerator are clean. In the master bedroom, remove or move furniture to create a spacious look.”
  6. Being inflexible about financing: “Federal Housing Authority financing is a wonderful way to go these days. A lot of buyers and a lot of Realtors don’t understand FHA financing. With FHA financing you are more likely to get closer to your asking price. You can also offer seller financing or pay closing costs or offer other irresistible buyer incentives.”
  7. Going it alone: “Without using a professional advisor, like a Realtor, you probably won’t sell at the price you want. Some agents do more than others and they do a lot more than most people know. They will bring qualified buyers. Your Realtor makes it their business to get the best deal.”
  8. Always being underfoot: “The presence of your family can make prospective buyers feel like they are intruders. It’s harder for them to place themselves in the home. Keep your family and your pets out of the way when buyers come to see your house.”
  9. Putting up your dukes: “Nobody wins when you enter into a negotiation with boxing gloves on. Instead, approach all negotiations in a positive frame of mind, not as an adversary of the buyer. After all, you both want the same thing: a sale.”
  10. Letting a buyer’s contract languish: “Reply immediately to an offer. When a buyer makes an offer they are in a mood to buy. Nobody wants a buyer to get remorse.”
In the near future, Pridgen expects to see short sales, where the lender and seller agree on a price that is lower than the amount the seller owes. The seller can be held liable for the difference in price. She also recommended the following resources:The Colorado Foreclosure Prevention Hotline, operated in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Housing: 877-601-4673The Housing and Urban Development Housing Counseling and Referral Line: 800-569-4287

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