So You Wanna Buy a House? Step 10: Negotiate Closing Costs

Closing costs can be a good place to negotiate with the home sellers. outlines what goes into your closing costs and how to potentially save money up front.

So You Wanna Buy a House? Step 10: Negotiate Closing Costs

Troels Graugaard/Getty Images

Jamie Wiebe

If you’re gearing up to buy a home, one bitter pill you’ve got to swallow is that you don’t just have to pay for the house itself. You’ll also need to open your swiftly slimming wallet for a myriad of costs, fees, and taxes—the infamous closing costs. It’s a wide variety of fees that average more than $2,500 on a $200,000 loan. Gulp!


After the stress of house hunting and the anxiety of the offer, you might feel like you can’t handle yet another hurdle. But closing costs are an inevitable part of the purchase process. Happily, there’s often wiggle room—at least on the costs that could be covered by the seller. We’ll give you the lowdown on all of the gritty details in this installment of the 2016 Home-Buying Guide. Learn about what goes into your closing costs—and, even more important,  how to whittle them down to size.

Inspection and appraisal fees

You won’t have much luck lowering appraisal fees—since the lender selects the appraiser, you’ll likely be stuck paying their costs without much room to negotiate. The home inspector offers more flexibility: Compare a variety of quotes to find the cheapest option. You even might be able to persuade the seller to cover some of these fees, depending on your market (this is less likely in a red-hot market). Granted, you won’t be saving a ton of money here, considering the average home inspection costs $300 to $500, but a couple of hundred extra never hurts.

Lender fees

Let’s hope you paid careful attention when shopping for your mortgage: Different lenders require different fees, and buyers should keep an eye out for “junk fees” like for the application, credit check, processing, and even the frustrating but all too common “miscellaneous” fee.

Also take a close look at the loan estimate you receive from your lender at the beginning of the process and compare it with the closing disclosure statement, which you’ll get three days before your scheduled closing. Make sure no unexpected charges snuck their way onto your bill.

Discount points

If you decided to pay for discount points at closing to lower your interest rate, well, the bill is due. However, with the current low interest rates, that might not make sense for many buyers anyhow.

Home insurance

No, you can’t negotiate the existence of home insurance (most lenders require it to proceed with the loan), but you can certainly shop around. With the average premium stretching to $1,034 in 2015, your insurance will be a large cost regardless—but researching companies and comparing quotes goes a long way toward decreasing your expenses.

Title insurance

In many states, title insurance is a lender mandate that protects your ownership of the property, heading off a number of unsavory situations such as fraudulent claims, courthouse errors, liens, and family disputes. If your lender requires you to purchase title insurance, you can shop around for a better quote. Unlike home insurance, title insurance is a one-time fee, which can make its high cost (the average buyer pays $3.50 per $1,000 of purchase price) easier to swallow.

Sometimes, the seller will pay for title insurance; however, this is uncommon and may not be the norm in your state. Consult with your real estate agent to determine if this is an option for you.

Seller’s costs

Sneaky, sneaky: One easy way to avoid paying a mountain of closing costs is by asking the seller to cover some or all of the fees. You might not have much luck in a red-hot market, but then again, a seller might agree to cover closing costs if she is able to get the selling price she wants. This works for buyers who might be short on cash but can handle adding a bit more to their loan balance. FHA loans allow sellers to contribute up to 6% toward closing costs; VA loans allow 4%, and conventional loans permit 3% to 6%.


Most experts recommend closing on a house at the end of the month. Closing costs also include any interest that accumulates before the end of the current month—so closing on the 29th rather than the 1st of the next month will save you money.

But before you sign on the dotted line, there is one more consideration that might affect your closing costs—or even the entire purchase. Next up on‘s 2016 Home-Buying Guide: the final walk-through!

10 Home Renovations That Offer the Best (and Worst) Return on Investment is at it again with a very useful list of which home improvement projects off the best (and worst) return on your investment. One of my favorite especially up here in Summit County is resealing entryways (Number 4). It helps with heat and energy efficiency.

10 Home Renovations That Offer the Best (and Worst) Return on Investment


Judy Dutton

Remodeling may be a labor of love, but it’s also an investment that can seriously boost the value of your home.  Only by how much? Well, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report, you’ll recoup an average of 64% of what you paid for a renovation if you sell your home this year.

To arrive at these figures, Remodeling asked consultants in various markets to estimate the average cost for 30 home improvement projects, from adding a bathroom to replacing a roof. Then, they asked real estate agents nationwide to estimate the expected resale value of these renovations so that readers could compare their out-of-pocket costs to how much money they’d get back when it came time to sell their home.

So, what projects gets you the most bang for your home renovation buck? It may not be nearly as sexy (or fun!) as adding a chef’s kitchen or glam bathroom, but attic insulation gets the top spot. That’s right: Stuff some fiberglass insulation into the walls of a 35-by-30-foot attic, and you’ll pay an average of $1,268. But when you sell, you will rake in $116.90 for every $100. For you math-challenged out there, that’s a recoup of 116.9% of your costs. It’s the only home reno on this year’s report that redeems more money than you spend!

The next best-paying renovation on the list: manufactured stone veneer, offering a respectable 92.9% return.

Meanwhile—sorry, luxury tub fans—the home improvement project that reaps the worst ROI is the addition of a bathroom, at 56.2% (although the “added value” of an extra bathroom for anyone who’s ever had to wait their turn for one is, of course, priceless).

Take-home lesson? If you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, it’s that less is more: Lower-cost projects  generally reap bigger returns, with four of the five projects that cost less than $5,000 ranking among the top five for money back when you sell.

Check out the best (and worst) returns for home renovations in the two charts below, including how much you’ll pay and get back if you sell your home this year.


Expect a Strong Spring Housing Market

RealtorMag explains why it looks like it is going to be a strong spring in the housing market. Summit County is no different. 

Expect a Strong Spring Housing Market

Recent housing and economic reports predict we’ll see solid spring home sales, according to Jonathan Smoke,®’s chief economist. Here are some signs:

On jobs: “Job creation — arguably the most important factor in housing demand — is moving apace,” Smoke notes. In January, 151,000 jobs were created and unemployment is near 10-year lows. Smoke predicts that the latest employment growth should translate into a 3 percent boost to home sales this year.

On home sales: Existing-home sales from January 2015 to January 2016 have grown 11 percent. Sales are taking longer close, due to new mortgage rules that took effect last fall, but the pace of sales is growing. New-home sales have also grown solidly year-over-year, and the median price of new homes is declining as more builders offer more affordable homes than catering to just the luxury.

On home prices: Prices are moving up and most of that has been attributed to the limited number of homes for-sale. At the current pace, there is a four-month supply of homes on the market — much lower than the norms of six to seven months. “This is driving prices higher and encouraging consumers who hope to buy this year to get started as soon as possible,” Smoke notes.

On mortgage rates: Low mortgage rates are improving home buyer affordability, for now. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged under 3.7 percent in the latest week, which offers buyers nearly 5 percent more buying power than they had at the end of 2015, Smoke notes.

But as Smoke notes: “not everything is rainbows and unicorns. The biggest negative trend impacting potential demand relates to the January and February declines in stock values, which have taken a toll on consumer confidence.” Also, the tight supply of homes for-sale could also limit sales in the spring season. That said, for buyers that are able, the low mortgage rates of the season may prove a strong motivator why buyers shouldn’t wait.

Source: “The Numbers Are In: Yup, 2016 Is Off to a Good Start in Home Sales,”® (Feb. 26, 2016)

Appraisal Volume Rises As Spring Homebuying Season Starts Early

With appraisal volumes rising be sure to get your high country escape while there is inventory in Summit County. Brena Swanson explains why the homebuying season has started early from HousingWire.

Appraisal Volume Rises As Spring Homebuying Season Starts Early

by Brena Swanson

Appraisal volume jumped 8.4% for the week of Feb. 21, marking the fifth consecutive week of increases, as the spring homebuying season draws closer, a la mode, an appraisal forms software company that tracks appraisal volume throughout the country.

While the increase the previous week was minimal, it still ticked up 1.9% for the week of Feb. 14.Kevin Golden, director of analytics with a la mode, added that except for the MLK holiday week, the index has moved upward in 2016. 

Appraisal volume is an indicator of market strength and has some advantages over mortgage applications. Fallout is less for appraisals since they are ordered later in the mortgage process after credit worthiness determined and there are few multiple-orders.

a la mode captures 50% of the appraiser market – more than 6 million appraisals per year since the fourth quarter of 2006.

However, Phil Huff, president and CEO of Platinum Data Solutions, added “We need to remember, though, that just because an appraisal is completed, doesn’t mean the mortgage transaction will close, particularly when it comes to refinances.”

“Spring buying season started earlier this year. That, and continued low rates are prompting homebuyers to get into the market,” Huff said.

Mountain Events: March 11th-13th

Friday, March 11th, 2016

Snowmobiling Tours: 8a, 10a, 12:30p, 2:30p, All Ages, Dillon.

Nostalgia/History Speaks: 11a, Arts Alive, Breckenridge.

The Swing Crew in Keystone: 3p The Last Lift Bar, Keystone.

Apres Ski Yoga: 4:00p Elevated Yoga & Holistic Health, Frisco.

Peligroso Tequila Party: 5p Dillon Dam Brewery, Dillon.

Murder Mystery Dinner Theater: 6:30p Father Dyer Church, Breckenridge.

Dancing Lessons: 7:30p The Lake Dillon Theatre Co., ** New (Temporary) Location: 246-X Rainbow Drive


Disco Ball Public Skate: 7:30p Stephen C. West Ice Arena, Breckenridge.

Meniskus: 9:30p Snake River Saloon, Keystone.

Saturday, March 12th, 2016

Snowpitch Softball Tournament: 9a Breckenridge Recreation Center, Breckenridge.

Historic Dredge Boat Snowshoe: 10a B&B Trailhead, Breckenridge.

Alpenglow Ascents Rando Challenge: 11a Arapahoe Basin, Arapahoe Basin.

Half Moon Snowshoe Party: 5p Gold Run Nordic Center, Breckenridge.

Canvas Painting Party: 7p Ready Paint Fire, Breckenridge.

Keller Williams: 8:30p Vilar Performing Center, Beaver Creek.

One Ton Pig: 8:30p Barkley Ballroom, Frisco.

Sunday, March 14th, 2016

All You Can Eat – Fundraiser for the Arts: 9a Elks Club, Silverthorne.

Summit Foundation Cup Series: 10a Breckenridge Ski Resort.

Free One Run Lesson: 1:30p Arapahoe Basin.

Summit Community Orchestra Spring Concert: 6p Dillon Community Church, Dillon.

Dancing Lessons: 6:30p The Lake Dillon Theatre Co., ** New (Temporary) Location: 246-X Rainbow Drive

Karaoke With Sandman: 9p The Mine Breck, Breckenridge.


5 Things Your Accountant Wishes You Knew About Owning a Home

My favorite is “5. Home improvements can lower your tax bill, too.” Jamie Wiebe of outlines 5 very helpful tips accountants wish you knew about owning a home.


5 Things Your Accountant Wishes You Knew About Owning a Home

Elizabeth Simpson/Getty Images

Jamie Wiebe

What’s not to love about tax season? The chill you get when you realize you owe the IRS thousands, the fear that you may be getting a bit too aggressive on your deductions, the fleeting hope you’re due for a big return … that’s dashed when you end up with $2…

OK, so maybe only accountants love tax season. And here’s another thing they love: wielding their vast knowledge of the tax code to help their clients save cash! Lots of it! If you own a home, there’s plenty they can do to ease the burden of what you owe.

Of course, if you haven’t hired an accountant to do your taxes already, you may not be able to talk to one until sometime after April 15, when they dig out from under their mountain of returns. Still, we know a few people, so we went ahead and nagged them for their prime pearls of wisdom. Check them out!

1. Having a home office does not automatically trigger an audit

Few things scare the pants off taxpayers (or accountants, for that matter) like the threat of an audit. Can you imagine pulling together all those receipts? As a result, many people avoid making claims on their taxes that they think will attract unwanted attention from the IRS. Among the most notorious of these supposed red flags is the home office deduction. Why tempt fate?

Yet accountants insist that having a home office does not automatically make you audit material. They also contend that avoiding this deduction, if you deserve it, is a huge mistake—particularly since it allows you to also deduct portions of your utilities, maintenance, and other expenses, dramatically lowering your tax burden. In short, you could save big.

“What drives me crazy is when people don’t take a home office deduction when it’s so easy to do and when they are entitled to it,” says Tom Wheelwright, a CPA and founder ofProVision Wealth Strategists.

To avoid missing out, know the rules. To determine if a home office is deductible, make sure it is an area of the home you exclusively use for business, and that it is your principal place of business (that means you don’t have a second office supplied by your company). Note: In the eyes of the IRS, everything in a home office area needs to be justified as serving a business need. Ditch the PS2 and the lava lamps.

2. Moving is an overlooked money saver

Another easy tax break that homeowners often toss out the window is the cost of a job-related move.

“People never save the receipt,” complains Craig McCullough, a Realtor® and accountant in Washington, DC. And that’s a missed opportunity, since moving fees can be hefty and are usually deductible.

A few caveats: You qualify only if you’ve moved more than 50 miles for your job (or to a new job) and work full-time for at least 39 weeks of the subsequent year. Plus, if your job pays for moving expenses, the reimbursed costs are not tax-deductible.

3. Selling a home too quickly comes at a price

Selling a house comes with its own set of pitfalls—especially if you’re doing so less than two years after purchase.

“You have to be really careful, because if you live in a house for less than two years that’s appreciated in value, the profit of the sale is subject to capital gains taxes,” McCullough says.

So, say you purchase a home in downtown Denver that appreciates nearly 20% over almost two years (totally possible, according to current home pricing trends). If you buy at $200,000 and sell at $240,000, you’ll be subject to capital gains taxes on that $40,000.

“It’s one of the biggest things sellers don’t know about,” he says. “Sellers end up calling their brokerage really mad when they get their capital gains bill.”

4. Deducting your mortgage interest is really worth it

Odds are you’ve heard that you can deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage from your taxes. And maybe you’ve thought, “Why bother? My interest is only 4%, which is a measly amount to deduct.” But here’s what you’re missing: For fixed-rate mortgages, the amount of money you pay per month may stay the same, but the proportion paid to interest changes a lot. In fact, in the early years of a mortgage, “the bulk of that check goes toward interest,” says Elmwood, WI, accountant Martha Hartung.

To find out how much of your mortgage payment is going toward interest, check your monthly statement for a breakdown. But whatever you do, don’t assume it’s too small to be worth mentioning on your taxes. And it’s not just mortgage interest that can help you out come April: If you refinanced your home or received a home equity loan or line of credit, you can deduct interest on up to $100,000 of that debt.

5. Home improvements can lower your tax bill, too

If you’ve made any significant renovations to your home in the past year—or plan to begin a new construction project—make sure to keep an eye on any energy-efficient upgrades you make. You can get a tax credit for improvements such as energy-efficient windows, reflective roofs, and extra insulation, so be sure to talk to your tax accountant about them. While there is a $500 cap on the credit, keep in mind a tax credit directly reduces the amount you owe, compared with a deduction, which simply reduces your taxable income. So this is not something you want to pass up. Trust us.

Selling Your Home? Better Make Sure It’s Clean Before Moving Out

Angela Colley of reminds sellers that it is important to leave your home clean and empty for your new buyers. My favorite piece of advice is “Take everything with you.”


Selling Your Home? Better Make Sure It’s Clean Before Moving Out

Angela Colley

sturti/Getty Images

Let’s face it: Now that you’ve found a buyer and scheduled the closing, you’re ready to be done with your old home. A clean break! The last thing you want to do is spend the weekend deep cleaning the place for someone else to enjoy. Besides, would it even matter?

Actually, yes, it does matter.

We feel for you—the temptation to skip out on those last few cleaning chores is strong. But don’t give in. How dirty you leave your home isn’t just about etiquette—it could also cause problems with the sale of your home.

While buyers may forgive you if you forget to sweep under the stove, more serious offenses can have serious consequences. Check your contract: Some sellers may stipulate that the place be spotless by the time they move in. If you agree to this (verbally or in writing) and don’t live up to your end of the bargain, you could be at risk for a lawsuit.

So if you leave a pile of filth, the new owner could delay closing—or even bail on the sale altogether.

“In a rare case I had someone walk away from the sale because of the condition of the home at the final walk-through,” says Darbi McGlone, a Realtor® in Baton Rouge, LA.

Odds are your buyer will be incredibly stressed out by closing day, and you don’t want to make matters any worse.

“It could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” McGlone says.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s bust out the yellow rubber gloves and get to work.

Work from the top down

When it comes to cleaning, starting early is easiest.

“I recommend doing a good scrubbing and decluttering before putting the house on the market—it can be very stressful to do at the last minute,” says Wendy Wrzos, certified interior redesign specialist and founder of The Blue Giraffe, a home staging and redesign company in New Jersey.

But if you didn’t start early, don’t panic. If you attack the job with a plan, it’ll get done faster. Try to clean room by room, working from the top down.

Dust the ceiling fans, wipe down the walls, and then sweep, vacuum, or mop. Clean the refrigerator (if it’s staying behind), and give a once-over to the oven and stove—including the drip pans. Check the air vents for filth or mold—and if you spot any, call in a professional. This won’t be a standard broom cleaning.

Once you’re done with one space, move on to the next. And don’t forget the details.

“Light fixtures are rarely cleaned,” McGlone says. “Wiping down cabinets and drawers inside and out would be nice also—not many sellers ever do it.​”

Take a deep breath

Cleanliness isn’t the only thing you have to worry about before the final walk-through.

“The first thing buyers always notice when they walk inside is if your home has any less-than-appealing smells, whether it is cat litter, a wet dog, garbage, or the fish you cooked two nights ago for dinner,” Wrzos says.

Reality check: Any strange odors—even if temporary—will make the buyers think the home is dirty. (And they may be right.)

Even if you’ve already moved out, go back into the home for a quick sniff before the walk-through. Bring a friend who might not be as nose-blind to your old home as you are, and ask for an honest opinion.

Air fresheners can minimize lingering odors, of course, but you can also try theseinnovative tips and tricks. When all else fails, call in a deodorization pro. Yes, they exist.

Take everything with you

Many sellers leave behind personal items, because either they think the new owner may get use out of them or they just don’t want to deal with them. But here’s the thing: “No one wants your old shower curtain and matching trash can,” McGlone says.

Unless the buyer specifically asked for something, take everything with you. Double-check attics, basements, storage closets, and the garage for anything you might have missed.

Land Title Guarantee Company January 2016 Market Analysis

Land Title Guarantee Company January 2016 Market Analysis

January 2016 Market Analysis

Please note that Land Title data comes from actual recorded transactions at the County Clerk and Recorder’s Office for that particular month. The information is not directly related to MLS data. The data is an unofficial tabulation of Summit County Records that are believed to be reasonably accurate. If you choose to utilize this marketing information in any publications or websites, please make sure you are quoting Land Title as your source. You are welcome to utilize this link within your own websites.

January 2016 Highlights:

  • Market Analysis by Area for January 2016: The start of 2016 kicked off with 124 transactions and $63,231,650 monetary volume. As many of us know, January is a slower month for real estate movement in the mountains. Average transaction price for all 18 reported areas: $514,210: Average residential price:$533,982: Average residential PPSF $355. New this year, you will see a line item for Deed Restricted Units on this report.
  • Market Snapshot for Years 2016 vs 2015: Prices look good compared to full year 2015 and are as follows: Average Indicators for $: Single Family +3%, Multi- Family +2% and Vacant Land -16%. Median Indicators for $: Single Family -3%, Multi- Family +9% and Vacant Land +6%.
  • Market Analysis % Change YTD 2016 Data ( 1 month): Monetary volume ($63,231,650) in January was down -5% compared to January 2015. Number of transactions (124) were down -2% in January compared to January 2015. Currently, inventory is extremely low in Summit County.
  • Residential Market Sales by Price Point: Residential volume in January had 104 transactions with $55,534,150 gross volume. There were 9 properties that sold for $1M and above in January.  The most active price points were between the $200K-$400K range this month. There were 28 Single family, 76 Multi-family and 7 Vacant land transactions in January.  
  • Full Year 2015 Average Price History: Average residential pricing is consistent starting off 2016- Single Family: $877,732, Multi- Family:$407,338 and Vacant Land was $311,943.
  • Comparative Historical Cost Analysis: There were again 104 residential transactions  and $55,534,150 volume with 9 properties selling for a $1M and over-compared to 2015, there were 98 transactions and $56,210,600 gross volume, 12 properties at $1M and over and in 2014, there were 83 transactions with $38,988,500 gross volume, 7 properties at $1M and over.
  • Top Lender Graph: There were 368 loans in January, 63% of the loans were related to sales, there were 123 REFI’s and 167 loans were timeshare related. 37% of the real estate closings were cash transactions.
  • Market Highlights: Please see page 10 of the Market Analysis-Higher priced sale in January (Gold Flake Terrace). There was one bank sale in January.
  • Foreclosures: There were 4 Foreclosure actions in January 2016 compared to 8 in January 2015.
  • Purchaser Profile Abstract (Page 14): There were 10 higher end sales in January – you can see the details on this report. Our buyers for real estate transactions were the Front Range demographic at 40% of our market, 31% are local ( side note: which in part are  “retires” coming to Summit County) and 29% are out of state buyers, with 0% International. 
  • Land Title New Development Summary: This (page 15) shows all the new construction each month with 10 in January,

New Construction in Summit County

New Construction in Summit County

Summit Sky Ranch Site Plan

A lot of people are interested in buying new construction in Summit County, however, there are only a few projects that are currently available.  Silverthorne has the most new developments at the moment including Angler Mountain Ranch, Summit Sky Ranch and Rivers Edge.

Each builder is different so it’s important to understand what is included in the building and what is an upgrade.  Many of these builders offer great standard packages, but when you are building your own home, you tend to want to make everything perfect so you can expect to come across things you will want to upgrade.

Many builders will not negotiate on price, however, sometimes you can negotiate upgrades into the purchase price. This is where having an experienced Realtor can help in setting up the contract.

In Keystone, the new construction developments include the Townhomes At The Alders and Dercum’s Dash.  In Breckenridge, you have The Shores, Water House on Main and Corkscew Flats.  All of these new construction developments will command a premium price, but the work will be done for you and you will have your dream retreat in the Mountains!

For information or showings of any of the above new construction please contact me!

Anne Skinner
Colorado Mountain Realty

Open House this afternoon 2/27


Come check out this beautiful home in Frisco.  Only a block from Main St.  Completely remodeled and ready for you to move right in

2 Bedrooms/2 Bathrooms, 850 sq ft, $415,000

Click HERE to view the full details about this home


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