Summit County, CO is a large vacation home market, and that means buyers and sellers aren’t always physically present in CO. Anne works hard for her out of state clients to make sure their transaction is as smooth as possible. Anne helped this wonderful couple find their retirement home with confidence.
Don’t just take our word for it, hear from the happy homeowner!
For more information on the Summit County market or to find your own mountain home please contact us!
Breckenridge is famous for its world class skiing, but it’s also a local favorite because of it’s growing arts culture and summer activities. Be sure to check out my neighborhood page on Breckenridge for an MSL search of the area and some quick facts on the town.
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
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.
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.
So after years of DIY/friend-assisted moves, you’ve finally decided to hire movers. As a fellow lazy convenience-minded person, I salute you. The heavy-lifting, traffic-negotiating, stair-climbing nightmare parts of moving day are out of your hands.
But before you kick back and start daydreaming of sleeping in on the big day, I also have some bad news: There are some things you always want to move yourself.
Even if you’ve hired pros, you’re still probably going to be renting a truck or tucking a few things away in your car. Yes, I know—that completely bursts your nothing-to-do bubble. But you’ll want these things for their safe arrival.
1. Your pets
Obviously, you’re not going to pack Rover in a box with some air holes, but you still need to do some prep work.
Moving is stressful for pets. Add the potential danger of their busting free in the chaos of moving, and it could be a bad situation. Save yourself a headache later and pack them a travel bag now.
If you’re moving across town, plan to take water and food bowls, food, treats, an extra leash, a favorite toy, and a crate with you in the car.
If you’re moving out of state, your movers probably won’t transport your pets, but you can hire a pet-moving service.
Houseplants are a bigger moving-day hassle than you might realize.
“Before doing anything with houseplants, it’s good to check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources or the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure there aren’t any restrictions for moving that particular type of plant,” says Jonathan Deesing, a community specialist with imove.
If the plants are allowed on the truck, you’ll still have to worry about everything arriving safely.
“Only pack up plants that are hardy and can survive a bumpy ride,” he says. Fragile plants (we’re looking at you, orchids) may not survive in the back of the truck. So put them in an open box in your car with some padding to keep the pots from tipping over.
If you’re packing, the movers probably aren’t.
Whether you’ve got an antique revolver just for display or a powerful hunting rifle, this one is a big no-no for obvious reasons.
“It’s best to move your guns on your own for safety reasons, and many moving services will not even consider moving guns for you anyway,” Deesing says.
If you’re moving your arsenal, don’t forget your safety lessons. Pack bullets and guns separately, and keep everything clearly marked and out of the reach of children.
And remember the rules and regulations.
“Make sure you have all the paperwork in order before moving guns across state lines,” Deesing says.
4. Your record collection and other valuables
Whether it’s the complete history of the blues on 350 vinyl records, or a collection of antique snow globes, “if you can’t stand the thought of losing it, don’t put it on a moving truck,” Deesing says.
Your moving company isn’t going to toss any of your stuff around (we hope), but accidents do happen. It’s one thing when it happens to that bookshelf you bought at Target, but another when it happens to your great-grandmother’s antique lamp set. If in doubt, bring it with you.
5. Personal paperwork
Pack your Social Security card, birth certificate, auto title, and any other important paperwork in a waterproof case, and haul that with you. Inevitably, something gets misplaced in a move. And it’s not helpful to find your passport six months after you had to scramble to get a last-minute replacement for your vacation to Spain.
“Of all your belongings, these can often be the most difficult to recover if lost or damaged in transit,” Deesing says.
6. Climate-sensitive artwork
If you’re moving across town or within the same state, your artwork can probably be safely packed and stowed away on the moving truck. If you’re moving several states away and the temperature might change drastically on the trip, you might want to bring those originals with you in your climate-controlled car.
“If you have artwork in a truck and move from the Northeast to the Deep South, it could irreversibly damage certain paints and materials,” Deesing says.
For everything else, follow this rule: When in doubt, overcompensate.
“Communication is key with any part of the move, and this is no exception,” Deesing says. “Don’t take risks, either—clearly label your fragile items and feel free to supervise movers as they load items onto the truck.”
“Before everybody started moving here, 686 square feet would only be like $700 or $720 a month,” said Brianna Maes Michel, a 27-year-old Denver native and hair stylist who now pays $1,200 a month for that much space. “Everything has gone up.”
The shift happened fast. Michel was paying $720 a month for an apartment in a better neighborhood just two years ago.
Denver has some of the hottest housing in the country, with home values up 14.5 percent to $326,300 over the past year, and expected to gain another 4.2 percent in the coming year. Home values have been growing faster than rents, which rose 9.7 percent in 2013 — and both far outpace gains in median household income, which rose a mere 2.6 percent that year.
That doesn’t mean rents are cheap. Even people migrating from more expensive cities are shocked.
Jorie Didier, a 27-year-old from Boston, bought her first house as soon as she moved to Denver rather than spend a penny on rent.
“I knew renting something the same size was going to cost twice as much, so I made the decision that it was in my best interest to buy a house and start building equity that way,” Didier said.
Like many millennials around the country, she moved to a suburb — Aurora — to save money. The arrival of these young adults on the outskirts of towns is turning some suburbs into dense, walkable areas with urban amenities.
The urban suburb
“They’re not the old suburbs,” said Zillow Chief Economist Svenja Gudell. “They’re not white picket fences and cul-de-sacs all around. [Millennials are] looking for suburbs that have redefined themselves.”
One such area is Stapleton, a neighborhood in Denver that’s far enough out of the city core to be considered a suburb by many locals. The former site of the city’s airport, it was built with urban values in mind. It has an abundance of parks, one of them spanning 80 acres, plus 46 miles of biking and walking trails, pools, community gardens and a growing number of restaurants, gyms and yoga studios.
“There are so many young families there that it’s easy for them to make friends,” said J. David Lampe, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Alliance in Denver.
Newcomers Luke and Cristine Bergman chose Stapleton to buy their first home — and with his business partner, to open his first restaurant, Concourse, a name that springs from the neighborhood’s history.
“It’s up-and-coming, and there’s even going to be a farmers’ market,” said Luke, who’s been a chef in South Beach and New York. “We’re going to be pioneers of cool restaurants out there.”
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).