Tag Archives: Mountain Real Estate

RENTING YOUR VACATION HOME YOURSELF? AVOID THESE FIRST-TIMER PITFALLS

Summit Mountain Rentals (a property management company in Summit County) has some great advice for first-time second homeowners who are looking to rent their property. 


RENTING YOUR VACATION HOME YOURSELF? AVOID THESE FIRST-TIMER PITFALLS

By

Mark Waldman

If you’re renting your vacation home for the first time, it’s easy to fall victim to what we call “first-timer pitfalls.” Renting your vacation home is a business. Unfortunately, many forget this and treat renting their home too casually or forget to consider the consequences. Running a business, even a small one like renting your property, takes time, effort and thoughtfulness.

Here are the top things to never forget:

Pay your taxes
In the beginning of the vacation rental market, governments were not too worried about a single homeowner paying sales tax. But with the advent of VRBO, AirBnB and other online channels of sale, vacation rentals by owners is big business — with big revenue. Local tax entities no longer look kindly upon a “casual” attitude toward paying taxes. The last couple of years, city, county and state governments have offered amnesty to homeowners for back taxes as long as they start paying current taxes. However, these types of programs are going away.

If you are renting your property, you owe sales tax — and not paying sales tax is a crime. If you have not been paying sales tax, start now. Remember, it does not affect your rental’s price. Everyone expects to pay sales tax on top of the price you list; you just need to tell your guests and charge them for it. There is no reason to risk criminal action, so pay your taxes.

Need help? Check out this great article on vacation rental taxes.

Get professional pictures of your rental
Yes, this costs money. But the difference in revenue, guest satisfaction and just plain pride in your home calls for professional pictures. And, unless you sell photography for money, you are not a professional photographer. The number one way to distinguish yourself from other properties in the sales process is to have great pictures. Homeaway/VRBO is now building algorithms to determine if you have good pictures; if so, you get a higher spot in their listings. This will become standard in the market. Not only do good pictures generate better income; it makes for happier guests. The number one way to make a guest happy is to meet or exceed their expectations. So take lots of great pictures and let your guest know exactly what they are getting. You will make them happier, generate better income and reviews, and just make your life easier.

Upgrade your vacation home
If you walk into your vacation home and say “Wow, I really like being here,” so will your guests. Think of it this way: going cheap gets cheap — and going nicer gets nicer. If you furnish and treat your home like a “rental,” then your guest will do the same. If you furnish and treat your home like a beautiful home, then your guests will do the same. Nicer homes have much less wear and tear because guests love them and come back. I always advise my owners to make their home something they love to come to. It always works — guests know the second they come into a home whether the owner cares about their property. And, it will generate more money for you. The number one way to increase price and sell more nights is creating repeat guests. People come back to places they like. Making your home spectacular not only makes you feel good when you visit, it makes your guests feel good and makes you more money through higher rates and higher occupancy.

Need help? Check out these great articles on updating vacation-home kitchens and bathrooms.

A bad bed is just a bad bed
Have you slept or at least tried to take a nap on all the beds in your vacation home? If you haven’t, do it. One bad review about mattresses can make you lose a lot of guests. People don’t call and ask if you replaced a bad mattress they read about in a review; they just don’t come. If you get a complaint, go try to sleep on the bed. If your mattresses are 10 years old … they are 10 years old! Replace them. The primary function of a vacation home is to sleep. Often your guests will not even eat in the home, but they all sleep in the home. If you don’t give them a good night’s sleep, nothing else matters.

Need help? Check out this great articles on updating vacation-home bedding.

Have local resources ready
Now that you have found your renters, collected their money and checked them in — what happens next? Why, Murphy’s Law, of course: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” The TV won’t work, the heat goes out, the air conditioning goes out, the fire alarm goes off, the water doesn’t come out of the master shower … and so on. Almost no one realizes how often things go wrong in their own home … we just take care of it. But in your vacation rental — for which someone is paying good money — you now have to take care of the same issues for someone else. And, you’re a 1000 miles away.

It is imperative that you not only have names and numbers of good local vendors (plumbers, electricians, etc.) but that you have interviewed them. You need to know if the plumber will come out on a Sunday night at 10 p.m. (You do know that toilets only overflow on a weekend night, right?) You need to know that your audio video resource will be able to fix the TV on Super Bowl weekend (again, this always happens!). You need to know that electrician will go out and fix the power at 1 a.m. so the house does not freeze. There is nothing worse than having a guest yelling at you over the phone because their 2-year-old child has been sleeping in a freezing cold or overheated room for four hours. Be prepared … and know your resources.

Pricing is important
Don’t be fooled: Having every date sold in July 2016 by the end of August 2015 the previous year is not “great.” It means your pricing is WAY TOO LOW. Not only have you lost out lots of revenue, you have probably rented to the cheapest and least respectful people. The same is true for not having July 4 booked by June 15. In this case, your pricing is probably WAY TOO HIGH.

So … pricing is very important. You need to sell your property, but you don’t want to give it away. The trick is research and paying attention. Do a quick search of the vacation homes that are similar to yours. How are they priced? Now do you want sell your home before them (price yours slightly lower) or after them (price yours slightly higher). Then pay attention. if your home is selling too fast, raise the price. If it is selling slowly, lower the price.

Renting a vacation home is a job
It takes time. Don’t fool yourself. If you want to do it yourself, make sure you have the time to do things right. What I’ve discussed here is just a small part of what it takes to rent your vacation home yourself. If you take the time and do it right, you can make good money. But if you don’t have the time or don’t like doing it, no amount of money made will be worth the aggravation.

So, try it! You’ll know quickly if you like it. If you don’t like doing it, get a good property management company do it for you. Either way, USE YOUR HOME AND ENJOY IT. I have found that owners who visit their vacation home often have the happiest guests. If you are happy with your vacation home, then others will be happy too.

If you have any questions about renting your vacation property yourself, call me! I’m happy to talk with you and help you get started. Here’s my number:

Mark Waldman, Owner, Summit Mountain Rentals, 970-423-7382

Or, shoot me an email. You can also post any questions (or tips) on vacation rentals in the “Comments” section below.

Mountain Events: June 10th – 12th

Friday, June 10th

Dillon’s Farmer Market * Opens for the 2016 Summer Season: Fridays 9a-2p

GoPro Mountain Games: All Day Events happening June 9th – June 12th! (Vail, CO)

Women’s Tennis: 10a Dillon Town Park, Dillon.

Science Adventure Fun!: 11a Arts Alive, Breckenridge.

Live Music by Rewind: 6:30p Vail Brewing Company, Vail.

The Doyle & Debbie Show: 7:30p Lake Dillon Theatre Company, 246-X Rainbow Drive Silverthorne.

Saturday, June 11th

Frisco Rowing Center Open House: 8a Frisco Marina, Frisco.

THE HIGHEST AIR SHOW ON EARTH!: 10a Dillon Reservoir, Dillon Town Park best viewing area. (I’ll be there, come say hi if you see me!)

GoPro Mountain Games: All Day Events happening June 9th – June 12th! (Vail, CO)

Paint Your Own Art! Pottery/Canvas/Mosaics: 11a Ready Paint Fire, Breckenridge.

Tumble Bubbles: 11a Maggie Pond, Village of Breck, Breckenridge.

National Repertory Orchestra Opening Night ” Rhapsody in Blue”: 7:30p Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge.

The Doyle & Debbie Show: 7:30p Lake Dillon Theatre Company, 246-X Rainbow Drive Silverthorne.

Frisco Funk Collective: 9p The Historic Brown Hotel, Breckenridge.

Sunday, June 12th

Frisco Bike Park Fling: 10a events start, Frisco Bike Park, Frisco Adventure Park. 

Public Skate Session: 1:15p Stephen C. West Ice Arena, Breckenridge.

Tony Award Celebration: 5p The Lake Dillon Theatre Company, 246-X Ran

 

5 Home-Buying Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Retirement

5 Home-Buying Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Retirement

By
Daniel Bortz

William Howell/iStock

Buying a home is a major step toward building a solid, secure financial future—so whether you’ve made the plunge into ownership or are aiming to soon, you should pat yourself on the back! (This, of course, is not as easy as it seems.) And yet, in the race to settle into a place of your own, it can be easy to overextend yourself and cut corners on yet another important financial goal: saving for retirement.

Even if retirement is decades away for you, this subject nonetheless repeatedly tops the list of Americans’ economic fears in Gallup’s annual Financial Worry metric. But just because you buy a home doesn’t mean you can’t save for retirement, too. It’s a high-stakes balancing act, one where the right home-buying decisions will keep your retirement on track, and the wrong ones may throw you seriously off-kilter.

Here are some common retirement saboteurs to avoid.

Saboteur 1: Buying a house outside your price range

When you purchase a home, your retirement savings are on the line—even if it may not seem that way at the time.

“Housing is the biggest expense most people have,” points out Mary Erl, a certified financial planner and owner of Nest Builder Financial Advisors in Gurnee, IL. Hence, if you purchase a property that’s way outside your budget—and you’re forced to forfeit saving for retirement in order to make your mortgage payments—you’ve put yourself in a bind. A pickle, even.

And don’t just consider your current income, but your future income, too.

“People almost never take future earnings into consideration,” laments Joe Pitzl, a certified financial planner and partner at Pitzl Financial in Arden Hills, MN. “Younger couples get married, buy their first home based on their combined household income. But then when they start a family, one of the spouses leaves the workforce to raise the children and all of a sudden they’re bringing in a lot less money each month. That reduces how much money you can save for retirement.”

Saboteur 2: Draining retirement accounts for a down payment

While it’s tempting to borrow from your IRA or 401(k) to amass a down payment on a home, many financial experts say home buyers should do so sparingly, only as a last resort. IRAs and 401(k) plans are called retirement accounts for a reason—you’re not meant to touch the money until you’ve entered your golden years. If you borrow from either plan before age 59½, you’ll get slapped with a 10% excise tax on the amount you withdraw, on top of the regular income tax you pay on withdrawals from traditional defined contribution plans. Ouch.

Making early withdrawals also obviously prevents the money from accruing interest in these accounts. Put simply: Raiding the piggy bank before the money has matured can put a serious dent in your retirement savings, and many underestimate the repercussions.

“Withdrawing $5,000 from your IRA or 401(k) to pay for home repairs may not seem like a big deal,” Pitzl says. “But if you do so at age 30, that money would have grown exponentially over time if you left it in the account.”

Saboteur 3: Paying off your mortgage too quickly

While it sure sounds impressive to pay off your mortgage in three years, it’s not necessarily the best for your retirement. The reason: There’s good debt and bad debt. You want to pay off your credit card bill (bad debt) in full each cycle or you’re going to pay interest. Mortgage payments, though, work differently.

From a psychological standpoint, you probably don’t like owing a hefty sum to your lender. (We don’t blame you.) However, if you’re a younger homeowner with a new mortgage (good debt), it’s beneficial from a retirement savings perspective to make only the minimum monthly payments on the loan and invest the money where you can get a higher return.

For example, on a 30-year mortgage, at today’s interest rates, it makes more sense to put the money into an IRA or 401(k) than increase your mortgage payments, Pitzl says. “Don’t throw every penny you can at your mortgage debt,” he says. Granted, if you’re approaching retirement and are close to paying off your mortgage, it may make sense to up your payments if you want to retire debt-free.

Saboteur 4: Not saving for a rainy day

When asked about their emergency savings, an alarming 29% of Americans said they had none, according to a report last year by Bankrate.com. Nada. But without a sufficient emergency fund, you may be tempted to run up credit cards or tap your home’s equity or retirement accounts to pay for major repairs (new roofs don’t come cheap). And “if you get laid off, your mortgage payments don’t stop,” Erl says.

Therefore, make sure you have enough cash tucked away to cover six months of living expenses in the event you lose your job and budget 2% of your home’s value for annual maintenance (1% for newer homes), says Pitzl.

Saboteur 5: Waiting too long to downsize

Your $1 million McMansion may have made sense when your family of five was living under one roof, but if you’re heading into retirement, it’s probably time to downsize.

A common mistake, says Austin Chinn, a certified financial planner at Fountain Strategies in San Jose, CA: “People destroy their retirement savings by staying in their home so that they can have their kids move back in after they graduate college.”

Unless you’ve budgeted for a boomerang child, you need to do what makes sense for you financially.

“If you can move from a larger home to a smaller home and wipe out your mortgage, that’s a huge boost to your retirement,” says Erl.

Because crunching the numbers can be complicated, it can be helpful (and a huge relief) to meet with a financial planner to determine if a reverse mortgage makes sense for you (find one at Napfa.org).

7 Bathroom Renovations That Really Pay Off

7 Bathroom Renovations That Really Pay Off

kohler.com

Let’s get real: The first room you stumble into in the morning—bleary-eyed, dazed, and yawning—should be a soothing oasis. A bathroom that achieves those lofty heights? That’s a bathroom you can love. That’s why these most special of rooms are second only to kitchens as the areas homeowners eagerly spend time and money renovating—and that catch a buyer’s eye when you’re trying to sell.

But exactly which upgrades are the best, in terms of both usefulness and return on investment? Before you go nuts installing saunas and rain shower heads, check out this second installment in our series Renovations That Really Pay Off, for some smarter tweaks you’ll be very glad you made.

Reglaze, don’t replace, the tub

“No, no, no—do not put in a new tub,” says Rebecca Knaster, associate broker with Manhattan’s William Raveis. “It’ll cost thousands between the tub and the installation.” Instead, have the tub reglazed for “around $1,500,” which will make it look brand new.

Matt Plaskoff, founder of One Week Bath, agrees that if the shower area “is in decent shape,” it’s best to concentrate on the front part of the bathroom, which “sets the tone for the space.” 

Invest in a new sink

Face washing, teeth brushing, gerbil bathing—your sink sees a lot of use. It’s also the very first thing a buyer notices in a bathroom, says Knaster.

“Step 1 for getting the most bang for your buck is a new contemporary sink,” she says. “It will set you back a few hundred dollars and make all the difference.”

Just note whether the sink you already have is an undermount (where the edge is below the countertop to create an uninterrupted surface) or overmount (where the sink lip comes up over the countertop), says interior designer Randal Weeks, founder of Aidan Gray Home.

An undermount can be difficult to remove unless it’s under a formica top. If the sink is adhered to the surface, the top will also have to go, which quickly drives up the cost. One easy and dramatic sink upgrade Weeks recommends is replacing separate hot and cold faucets with a sleek single-handle faucet that starts at $70.

Go for timeless tile

While natural stone is hot, Weeks prefers neutral styles that will appeal to a broader range of people and provide better return on investment. Pricey stones are taste-specific, he notes, and can give a busy look that’s a turnoff regardless of expense.

In fact, Weeks says one of the biggest issues buyers consider when making offers is the cost of redoing other people’s “bad choices.” So go for crowd-pleasing features such as bright white subway tiles, which run a mere 21 cents each. The payoff?

“You can add $10,000 of value to your home by selecting timeless elements that won’t date it.” 

Upgrade your lighting

It’s not just Snow White’s evil stepmother and the Kardashians who spend lots of time staring into the mirror on the bathroom wall. For most of us, lighting and lighting fixtures are critical elements.

“Dated light fixtures are a turnoff,” says Knaster. “For no more than $100 you can buy a basic but nice bathroom light fixture.”

Install a double vanity

The last thing you need in the morning is a battle with your partner over who gets the sink. It’s no wonder “I’m looking for a double vanity” is one of the most common things heard by Will Johnson, a Hendersonville, TN, real estate agent and founder of the Sell and Stage Team.

A double vanity typically costs between $200 and $800, with installation falling around $220, Johnson says—and it’s a wise investment. Johnson has clients who “won’t buy a house simply because there’s only one sink in the master bathroom!”

Swap in new fixtures

“Old materials such as bronze can instantly date your bathroom,” says Johnson. To knock out this easy DIY update, simply purchase new door handles, drawer pulls, and towel bars. A nice chrome drawer pull can cost as little as $3, while a towel bar canaverage $30

Get a water-saving toilet

Old toilets use 6 gallons of water per flush, gobbling up about 30% of all residential water in U.S. homes. Go green when you swap out your throne. New WaterSense models using only 1.28 gallons per flush (e.g., TOTO’s Carlyle II 1G toilet) conserve up to 18,000 gallons of water annually. The initial cost of $974 will shave more than $110 per year off a water bill and add up to almost $2,200 over the lifetime of the toilet. Bonus: The latest water-saving thrones actually work.

But skip the bidet 

Bidets may be considered the Rolls-Royce of toilet upgrades, but most bathrooms simply don’t have room for them. What’s worse: Most Americans have no idea what on Earth these things are and may even be weirded out  by them.

“My personal opinion is that our society is not accustomed to this practice and doesn’t see the extra value in them,” says Tracy Kay Griffin, an expert designer at Express Homebuyers in Springfield, VA. “We haven’t renovated a home yet where we thought it would be a good investment to add a bidet.” Just say nay to the bidet.

Non-Bank Servicers Creating Bigger Mortgage Problems

Non-Bank Servicers Creating Bigger Mortgage Problems

By
Catherine Curan

elenaleonova/iStock

It’s hard to find a more sympathetic foreclosure story than Kathleen Conrad’s.

The disabled widow of a Marine who served in Vietnam, Conrad, 66, lives in a rundown Westchester house the couple bought in 1999, realizing their modest version of the America dream.

But after her husband died in 2004, Conrad faced larger-than-expected cuts to her widow’s benefits. During the 2007 housing market boom, she took out a second mortgage from GMAC. In 2013, Conrad fell behind on payments and was contacted by her loan’s new owner, Infinite Customer Systems and the strong-arm tactics began to get Conrad out of the home.

Unlike big banks, non-bank servicers like Infinite are not bound by even the modest consumer protections built into the National Mortgage Settlement (NMS) of 2012.

Non-bank servicers are taking a page from their predecessors’ playbooks. Sources say that many of the same old problems the NMS partially sought to address are back with the nonbank servicers, including long delays in reviewing loan modifications and wrongful denials of loan modification requests.

While Federal Housing Finance Agency director Mel Watt is still dithering about whether to finally allow principal write downs to help troubled borrowers keep their homes, private investors who’ve already gotten a steep discount on distressed debt sold by government-sponsored entities are using hard-knuckle tactics with homeowners.

“The investors buying these loans are not interested in offering home-saving solutions to struggling homeowners,” said Jacob Inwald, director of foreclosure prevention at Legal Services NYC.

As government-sponsored enterprises including Fannie Mae sell delinquent mortgage loans to shore up their balance sheets and banks pull back on this market, private investors are muscling in. They range from small fry like Virginia-based Infinite Customer Systems to $60 billion Texas-based private equity titan Loan Star Funds. Loan Star is the backer of mortgage servicer and originator Caliber Home Loans, a major new player in New York.

After a flood of complaints about Caliber’s practices, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation last year. Loan Star declined to comment. A spokesman for the AG said the investigation is ongoing.

ICS’ Patrick Desjardins said he tried to reach a deal with Conrad before filing foreclosure. She halted the case by filing for bankruptcy protection, aided by foreclosure defense attorney Linda Tirelli. Earlier this month, a judge voided ICS’ lien, leaving the investor with worthless paper, and Conrad in her home.

“I don’t know where I would have [gone]” Conrad said. “That’s why I was fighting so hard to keep the house.”

Experts fear the new wave of investors will steamroll other vulnerable New Yorkers.

“We’re really concerned about the outlook,” said a spokesman for the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. “This is an unprecedented transfer of property ownership, accelerated by the distressed sales to non-bank servicers.”

Non-banks serviced 25 percent of the $9.9 trillion in outstanding US residential mortgages last year, against just 7 percent in 2012.

That’s according to a new Government Accountability Office report released last week by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who called for more oversight. This shift could lead to “harm to consumers, such as problems or errors with account transfers, payment processing, and loss mitigation processing,” the report said.

These new risks come as thousands of New Yorkers are mired in foreclosure. A new report from New Yorkers for Responsible Lending notes that as of last October, the state had nearly 90,000 pending foreclosure cases, half of which were filed in the previous 12 months. The crisis has bypassed wealthy enclaves of the city while ravaging low-income minority neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens.

Colorado ski-town homes more attractive as Front Range housing prices keep climbing

Denver-area buyers increasingly eyeing mountain real estate for investments, second homes

By

Ski homes like this one are becoming increasingly attractive to Front Range buyers, according to Ann Thompson at Bank of America.

With ski season winding down in Colorado’s high country and the Denver-Boulder housing market so strong, real estate experts say Front Range buyers appear to be turning their attention to second-home and investment opportunities in the state’s major ski-town markets.

“We’re definitely seeing a spike among the Front Range residents and their desire to buy a second home, and in many areas there’s no shortage of inventory, so they have their choice,” said Bank of America Regional Sales Director Ann Thompson, who added that soaring Denver home prices may be driving some of that trend.

“Denver metro has seen about 16 percent gains in home prices, and now that they’ve got that equity going, they look at that and say, ‘I can improve my home, or I can also use that equity to make a down-payment on a second home,” Thompson said.

The different mountain-town markets vary in terms of Front Range second-home ownership. In Eagle County (Vail and Beaver Creek), for instance, an analysis by Land Title Guarantee Company found that 17 percent of the 2015 fourth-quarter homebuyers were from the Front Range. That compares to 57 percent in Grand County (Winter Park), 38 percent in Summit County (Breck, Copper, Keystone and A-Basin) and just 2 percent in Pitkin County (Aspen).

“There are no opportunities for them to invest down on the Front Range, so they’re coming up here and looking,” said Andrew Forstl of The Davos Group real estate and property management company in Vail. “There are no deals down there. Denver is unattainable for investments, so people are looking up here, and it’s just kind of started. Our market isn’t nearly as booming as the Front Range — things are not flying off the shelf — but it’s healthy.”

Forstl says one of his clients, a Front Range family that had been skiing and looking at properties all winter in the Vail Valley, was finally ready to pull the trigger in the closing weeks of ski season and just went under contract.

“They were waiting for the end of the season for deals to come out – places that have been on the market all season and they’re looking to get a deal on one of them,” Forstl said, adding that in general, sales to Front Range second-home buyers will drop off some after the lifts stop running and then pick up again in June.

“Things that haven’t sold over the winter are going to go down in price, so people are looking at that, but it’s hard getting them up here to look at stuff the next couple of months,” Forstl said. “What’s changed is a lot of people are coming up here for the summer. Ten years ago summer was nothing up here, but a lot of people are liking the summer as much as the winter.”

Bank of America’s Thompson agrees with that trend, urging prospective Front Range homebuyers to do their homework and consult various experts, including an experienced mortgage loan officer, a realtor and even a CPA on whether to buy as a second home or an investment rental property to be listed on VRBO or other services.

“A realtor can help with projecting realistic rents not only in the winter, but also in the summer,” Thompson said. “That’s very, very popular for Front Range people – the music festivals, the mountain biking, hiking. That’s really important when you’re looking at year-round potential for rental and also to be attractive for Front Range resale.”

Thompson also added that it’s key to look at amenities such as conference space, either in a dedicated facility such as Keystone or in the hotels in Vail, with a good mix of retail, entertainment and other options that will attract renters. Plus, access is always a concern, she says, and a good regional airport that avoids potential Interstate 70 gridlock can be a plus.

The Eagle County Regional Airport in Gypsum, 40 miles west of Vail, welcomed its 8 millionth commercial passenger on March 29 after first launching commercial air service in 1989. Still, drive-to markets will be always continue to be the most popular for Front Range buyers, especially when they’re home values have increased so much and they’re feeling priced out in their own primary metro-area market.

“Equity in your home builds a lot of confidence about financial comfort,” Thompson said. “When you have equity in your home, there is that ability to borrow on that equity, but even if you’re using stock options or a bonus or what have you, it’s just all about that confidence to make that investment [in a mountain second home or rental property].”

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the metro Denver area led the nation for the highest rate of home price appreciation for half of 2015. Denver was second in the nation among major cities four months out of the year, and wound up third in December, behind only Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco. Overall, home prices in Denver rose 10.2 percent in 2015, compared to 5.4 percent nationally. But that kind of increase has some investors there wary.

A recent Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Investor Pulse Poll of more than 1,000 high net-worth investors revealed they feel the Denver housing market is overpriced and unaffordable for first-time homebuyers. The poll of Denver-area investors between the ages of 25 and 75 with $100,000 or more in household liquid investable assets found that 89 percent feel the metro-area market is overpriced. Nearly as many (86 percent) said the market is pricing out first-time homebuyers, and there is concern a bubble is forming.

“I think the financial crisis of 2008 is still very fresh in a lot of people’s minds, particularly high net-worth investors, so they’re looking at what happened to real estate prices here,” Denver-based Morgan Stanley financial advisor Todd Hauer said. “We were down probably 30 to 40 percent from the 2007 highs to the 2009 lows.”

Bank of America’s Thompson says it’s tougher to flip properties in the mountain markets the way some Front Range buyers have been able to do the last few years. That’s why she says mountain-town investments may make more sense as a longer-term play that’s based on a lifestyle choice.

“With VRBO, there’s just so much more exposure to the lifestyle, and then they want to turn it into a permanent lifestyle,” Thompson said, adding a season full of powder days can certainly influence a second-home decision. “This is the time of year where they’ve had that wonderful experience, and they’re like, huh, I want my own place.”

5 Spine-Tingling Stories From Exterminators and What They Learned

5 Spine-Tingling Stories From Exterminators and What They Learned

By
Craig Donofrio

spxChrome/iStock

Exterminators have seen it all. They’ve seen stuff that no one, including them, ever wants to see. And as long as you’re at a safe distance, it’s oddly fascinating to delve into what some of their worst days actually were like. Check out these war stories—and learn professional secrets for keeping your own home critter-free.

The case of the black kitchen floor

One day in the summer of 2009, John Kane, a technical services manager for the pest control company Orkin, went to a home in a Philadelphia suburb to get rid of a reported mice problem. It turned out to be a very big problem.

“There were frayed wires hanging from the ceiling and holes in the walls,” Kane recalls of the two-bedroom home occupied by an older couple. “The kitchen floor was black—only it wasn’t. We scraped … and it was white—but covered in pressed mouse droppings.”

In total, Kane and his crew caught more than 3,000 mice. And yes, this kind of extreme rodent invasion happens more often than you might think. According to Kane’s calculations, one pregnant mouse can lead to 28,000 mice over the course of five to six generations if every mouse survived. Luckily, their population is usually kept in check by predators, or exterminators like Kane.

“The lady of the house thanked us and said, ‘Last night was the first night we didn’t have a mouse in bed with us,’” he says. Gross.


 

Raining roaches

When California exterminator Milton Cardoza was called to a San Jose restaurant to get rid of cockroaches in 2004, he was warned by colleagues to make sure his pant legs were tucked into his socks, and to “start stomping” his feet once they started fogging. He wasn’t sure why. Then he found out.

“Thousands of roaches started climbing out from everywhere you can think of—I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cardoza recalls. “They were climbing toward me from the ceiling; they fell down and started coming at me.”

Roaches can be serious business. They can get into your appliances and short out your circuitry. Or they could just infest a place so badly, you need to burn it to the ground.

In the video below, the fire department of Pana, IL, did a controlled burn on a residential house because it was infested with the six-legged scuttlers. To prevent the roaches from fleeing into the neighborhood, it dug a trench, filled it with straw, poured gasoline on it, and made a ring of fire.


 

Nose nibblers

Jeff McChesney, an exterminator with the pest control company Truly Nolen, says one of the worst cases he experienced involved a woman with a rat problem in Palm Harbor, FL, in September 2015. Over the course of a year, she had spent over $8,000 on another company to clean up her rat problem, McChesney says. That turned out to be money wasted, when she woke up “in the middle of the night with a rat on her face,” McChesney says. The rat had been chewing on her nose.

OK, we’ll repeat that. The rat had been chewing on her nose.

After a follow-up of eight more daily visits, with a total of nine rodents collected, the home was proclaimed to be rat-free. There’s no word on the current condition of the owner’s schnoz, but history confirms she may have gotten off easy—rats have been known to eat live humans if provoked. Witness England’s “Rats’ Dungeon” during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, where “the flesh has been torn from the arms and legs of prisoners during sleep by the well-known voracity of these animals.” So, compared to that, a chomped honker seems like NBD.


 

Bed of fire

While the thought of rats performing rhinoplasty is horrifying, McChesney says the worst infestation he ever had to combat happened in March 2013 to an elderly, nearly blind woman in Gulfport, FL, who had a red, bumpy rash covering her body. For a month, a doctor treated her for allergies but made no headway.

Thinking it might be bedbugs, she called for pest control to inspect her three-story condo. The good news? It wasn’t bedbugs. The bad news?

“I discovered a fire ant nest in her bed was a satellite colony traveling back and forth to the main supercolony nesting on the roof,” McChesney recalls. The fire ants were chomping on her skin while she slept, but the agony had been blocked because she was on pain medication. That, combined with her poor sight, meant she had been sleeping in the belly of a fire ant swarm for weeks.

Fortunately, McChesney’s team was able to quickly clean up the situation, and her rash disappeared. The memories, however, will live on forever.


 

A movable feast

Jorge Sandoval, a manager with the pest control company Truly Nolen, says his biggest bug nightmare involved bedbugs at a senior living community in San Diego in August 2012. Starting from the front door, he spotted blood spots—the modus operandi of bedbugs—spattered on the wall and near a bed. But it wasn’t just bedbugs. He also spotted some German cockroaches, and the two insect populations were not living in harmony.

“The cockroaches were actually feeding on the bedbugs,” Sandoval recalls.

It took Sandoval and his crew two weeks to stop this creepy cycle of seniors feeding bedbugs and bedbugs feeding cockroaches. Call it repellent, but some insect aficionados point out the positives of using cockroaches as a natural and effective form of pest control.

“Cockroaches are disgusting, frightening pests, but they may be able to help get rid of other disgusting, frightening pests,” according to one comment on roachforum.com. “Bedbugs are the cockroach’s midnight snack, and cockroaches will eat and kill a bedbug infestation.” Which is true—but then you’re left with cockroaches. What then?


 

Keep the creepy crawlies at bay

Our experts have these tips to prevent pests from infiltrating your home.

  • Trim branches away from your home. “Trees form bridges, especially for ants,” Kane says.
  • Check all leaks for signs of pest activity. “Where there’s water, there’s life,” Kane says. Warm, humid areas such as dishwashers are particularly inviting to bugs.
  • “Don’t let any hole bigger than a dime go unsealed. Mice can enter a home through a hole the size of a dime, and rats can enter the home through any opening the size of a quarter,” Sandoval says.
  • Cleanliness is critically important. Dishes in the sink overnight are “an insect’s buffet,” Sandoval says.
  • Understand over-the-counter pesticides and know their limits. Kane says to use only the amount recommended on the directions, and keep in mind they lose their effectiveness eventually. And if things get out of hand, hire a professional already!

Income Properties in Summit County

Income Properties in Summit County

Summit county is a wonderful place to buy a vacation home, but is it a good place to buy an income producing property? The answer to that question can be very tricky.  With prices on the rise, it is becoming more and more difficult to purchase a property that will actually make money.  When I speak with clients, I often advise that it is possible to cover your costs by renting your home but you have to be able to prioritize that over your desires sometimes.
When looking at a home to purchase it’s very important to balance your monthly carrying costs with the rental potential.  HOA’s can be one of the biggest factors that prevent you from being able to cover your costs.  If you compare a home that has a monthly HOA fee of $400 to another that has a monthly fee of $800, that means that you have to be able to generate $4800 more in rentals per year to be able to cover your costs.
Another factor to consider is what is included in your HOAs.  Heat tends to be the highest utility in our cold mountain climate.  Heat can be upwards of $200-$400 per month depending on your heating system.  When you have renters using your home, they are not as conscious about the cost of heating as you would be so expect them to leave the temperature higher than you may personally.  If your HOA does not include heat, your carrying costs will be much higher.  Renters also expect cable and internet so those can be around an additional $100 per month if your HOA does not include them.
Location is one of the biggest factors that determine the amount of rent you achieve.  A ski-in/ski-out home will always achieve more in annual rent than somewhere that requires you to drive to the ski resort.  Of course this will come with a premium price so you will have to factor that in.  Also, the number of people that your home will sleep is a big factor.  Don’t confuse the number of people with the number of bedrooms.  Often a 2 bedroom with good sleeping solutions will rent just as well as a 3 bedroom that sleeps the same number of people.  Surprisingly 1 bedrooms and studios do extremely well in our market here in Summit County.
When you rent your home also makes a huge difference.  Of course you are buying a vacation home because you want to be able to use it too.  However, if you think you want to use your home on major holidays, you can expect to loose out on a huge amount of revenue.  Christmas is one of the biggest revenue generating times of the year so if you are tempted to use it during that time just be aware of the income you may be loosing out on.
Last but not least, the way that you handle your rentals will make a huge difference.  If you want to hand the keys over to a professional management company and have them do all of the work, expect them to take 30%-40% of your gross rentals.  That will severely cut into your ability to cover your costs.  If you want to cover your costs or even make a little money, it is going to take work.
Keep in mind that if you were just going on vacation frequently that you would be spending money on hotels every time. (That could be spending upwards of $5,000 a year if you are coming up monthly.)  If you are buying a vacation home, you may not be able to cover 100% of your costs, but even if you are putting $5,000 of your own money into your home each year, you are still in a better position than just spending that money on hotels.  You are building equity into your home every year you own it.  No one can predict exactly what the real estate market will do, but chances are when you go to sell your home in the future, you will make a profit.  Not to mention that when you are on vacation, you always have a place that feels like home!
By
Anne Skinner

Can Cash Offers Get You A Better Deal?

You’ve heard the old adage that seller’s love cash offers.  Why does a cash offer matter and can you get a better deal purchasing with cash?  
Cash offers allow the buyer to waive a lot of the financing contingencies.  What does this mean?  It means that you don’t have to have a bank approve the purchase of your new home. This is important in a competitive market because you can often close the deal much faster.  It also means that the home does not have to undergo an appraisal.  The buyer can choose to waive the appraisal when buying with cash whereas this is not usually an option if you choose traditional financing. From a seller’s perspective, these are advantages.
However, if you are trying to buy a home with cash in a competitive market, a seller will often ignore a low ball offer even if it is a cash offer.  In a market where there are not multiple offers on a home, you may be able to negotiate a better of a deal, but don’t expect it be much better than if you were using traditional financing.
When it all boils down, cash makes a home purchase easier.  It can move along more quickly and have less hiccups from the bank.  However, many people don’t have the option of purchasing a home with cash.  There are many wonderful lenders out there who want to work for you and help you in every way possible.  Don’t hesitate to investigate all of your options and know what is available to you.  You never know if you will qualify for a purchase until you speak with a lender.  You may also surprise yourself and qualify for more than you thought you would.
By:
Anne Skinner

The 6 Worst Homes for First-Time Buyers

Angela Colley at Realtor.com has outlines which type of first-time homebuyers you shouldn’t be. If you’re ever unsure about any step in the home buying process never hesitate to ask your realtor.


The 6 Worst Homes for First-Time Buyers

By
Angela Colley

Deciding to buy your first home is a little scary. Looking for a home is anxiety-inducing. But actually making an offer? That’s a whole different level of panic. Are you choosing the right one? What if you buy this home and the perfect place comes on the market a week later? What if you end up hating the place in a year?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for first homes. (If there were, we’d tell you.) And no, we can’t totally destress the process (buying a house is a big deal, after all). But we can help you avoid the biggest mistakes. And, as it turns out, some homes just aren’t right for the average first-time buyer. Go ahead and take a look.

1. The one that’s a little too ‘cosy’

You may not have children when you buy your first house. You may not even be planning on children. But those plans could change in the next five to 10 years, and that tiny two-bedroom historic bungalow you’ve been eyeing may go from just right to clown-car small.

“If you are recently married and plan to start a family, do not buy a two-bedroom home. Unless you bunk the kids together, you will be moving once the second child comes along,” says Seth Lejeune, a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Collegeville, PA. “Three is generally a good average. If you end up staying there longer than expected, you can start a family and still be comfortable.”

2. The bloater

On the flip side, you shouldn’t just get the biggest house you can qualify for, either. Five bedrooms might make sense for you in the future, but if it’s just you and your partner now, you probably won’t need those other four bedrooms for years. In the meantime, you’ll be carrying a much larger mortgage than you need—or possibly can handle.

“There’s almost nothing worse than buying more house than you need and having a reminder come in the mail every month as you scrounge to make payments,” Lejeune says.

3. The money pit

You might be tempted to buy an older fixer-upper—after all, you’ve watched so much HGTV you could give Bob Vila a run for his money—but be careful how much rehab you take on.

If the home needs one or two biggish projects and a handful of small weekend jobs to get into perfect condition, you might come out ahead. But if you can spot a dozen problem areas now, you may end up going broke trying to repair that place.

Instead, opt for a fixer-upper with an end in sight.

“I generally advise people to keep it simple—like kitchens and bath upgrades,” Lejeune says.

4. The weekend stealer

Is the front lawn a tropical garden? Does the house have a swimming pool out back? Is there a huge vegetable garden that needs tending? Those features might look great now, but do you really want to spend every weekend maintaining your home?

“Pools, hot tubs, elaborate landscaping, etc. are great in theory, but all require maintenance,” Lejeune says.

If you’re not up for the challenge, move along.

5. The dream crusher

In an ideal world, you’ll live in your first home for a while, maybe make a few improvements, and sell it for a profit later so you can upgrade to an even more awesome pad.

But that doesn’t mean you should look at every home for its investment potential.

Sometimes your tireless home improvements won’t mean much to the next buyer. And sometimes that home simply isn’t going to go up in price, no matter what improvements you make.

“If you make a row home in the worst part of the city into the Taj Mahal, you’re never gonna get that money back,” Lejeune says.

If your only reason for making an offer is what you might get out of it after you sell it, consider the market very, very carefully before you make the plunge.

6. The doorbuster

If you’ve found a really good deal on a home, go ahead and pat yourself on the back for being a regular real estate pro. But then stop and ask yourself why the deal’s so great. Is the location a bit gritty? You might save big bucks in the beginning, but there also might be big problems if and when you try to sell the home later on.

“I would advise that you pick [a locale] with a strong school district and a fiscally sound municipality,” Lejeune says.

Even if you don’t plan on having children, or you don’t care if a neighborhood is a little rough around the edges, future buyers might—and that means you may be forced to offer the same discount you got when you bought the house. And nobody wants their decisions as a first-time buyer to come back and haunt them as a first-time seller.