Denver Real Estate Market 2019 Q3

Inventory’s Up — Finally!

The number of active listings has been rising since early 2017. Currently in the region we’re up to 13,000 listings…. that’s well up from around 9000-10,000 we’d gotten used to from 2014-’17. Active listings are up 11% year over year, and up 30% over the same time in 2017.

The increase has started to ease some of the inventory strain we’ve been experiencing over the past several years. Homebuyers have had it tough, with short supply creating lots of competitive bidding situations.

Demand is still healthy though, and there’s room to absorb even more inventory — especially in the first-time homebuyer and move-up spaces.

The Denver real estate market for fall 2019 shows the typical slump that occurs every year with pricing and inventory.

Denver area median prices are currently down 3% from this May’s high of $421K. We might expect prices to bottom out at about $400K by December/January, as seasonal shifts fluctuate about 5% up and down throughout the year.

If normal trends continue, which I expect they will, prices will start heading back up as soon as spring rolls around — in February.

Last year’s seasonal inventory dip was not as drastic as it was in previous years, down 25% versus earlier years’ 40%. So it looks like inventory is stabilizing at a higher level.

What does today’s Denver real estate market mean for sellers?

Sellers don’t hold all the cards, but the market is still in their favor. Prices are still appreciating year over year, but more slowly, and will probably stabilize around 3-5% rather than the double digits we saw mid-decade.

With more inventory, sellers will have to reign in their pricing and make sure their house is prepped to look “right” to attract that buyer.

Bottom line: Sellers aren’t sitting on a golden real estate egg anymore. If your personal circumstances are calling for a real estate shift, then it’s a good time to sell.

Water in the Basement? What to Do — And What Not to Do

A cautionary tale about a basement “flood” in Denver

As a Realtor, I’ve seen firsthand the damage and expense that mold can cause, so when I discovered MY basement flooded late last summer – I went into a full-on panic.   

Day One: Discovering the Flood

On a stormy night, I walked down to the basement to do some laundry, only to find the basement carpet SATURATED with water. Fortunately, the affected areas were fairly empty, but I at least wanted to protect the few items we did store in the basement. By the time I was done it was pretty late, so I decided to deal with the rest in the morning.  

Day Two: Call in the Flood Remediation “Experts”

The next day, I searched NextDoor and found an emergency flood remediation company. Their team arrived within a few hours. Yay! The Team Lead assured me that he had seen this a million times – my flood insurance would “definitely” cover this. Not only could he start ASAP, but he would even take care of the photos and paperwork required by my insurance company. Double yay! 

A few hours later, his team returned, set up dehumidifiers and carpet fans, and removed the carpet padding to get the basement drier faster. They left the dehumidifiers and carpet fans running overnight, and promised to return tomorrow.  

Day Three: Things Get Weird

First thing the next morning, I checked out the basement. Turns out several of the machines stopped running overnight due to a flipped breaker, and the basement was still pretty wet. I could have sworn I discussed where to plug the machines in so this WOULDN’T happen? 

Second thing, I just couldn’t shake this feeling that there was something off about this team of experts. After having done some research on how to best dry carpet, it felt like this team wasn’t following basic best practices. 

I’m fully aware that I’m not an expert myself, and my research was limited to just one night of Googling. However, most of my research suggested carpet should be tented to increase air circulation — but this team left the carpet flat on the floor. And why hadn’t the team lead discussed next steps? Was my best choice to keep this carpet? Or was it too dirty at this point to be viable? Things were just starting to feel weird. 

Day Three Part Deux: What Flood Policies Really Cover 

Kudos to my flood insurance agent – he was there in a snap. He’s a former general contractor, super nice guy, but brought bad news. This was no flood. Um – what? 

Turns out – most flood policies cover ONLY damage from rising bodies of lakes, rivers, or streams. It appeared that my “flood” was due to the aftermath of a freak Colorado storm. Policy coverage for basements is also very limited in the event of an actual claim. It doesn’t cover carpet or flooring — just furnace, water heater, and the like. He explained that, especially for basements, flood insurance policies are pretty bare-boned. 

Day Four: Wait, Who’s Paying for All of This? 

By day four my mind was reeling. The flood expert said insurance would cover this. My flood insurance rep said, “Nope!”  

At this point – I had a bunch of flood equipment set up in my basement. The basement was not getting dryer. The carpet seemed to be laid out so it dried as slowly as possible. Was the flood remediation company trying to scam my insurance company? Were they trying to scam me? Was theinsurance company scamming me? Was I just paranoid? Was all of this coming out of my pocket???? 

The Moral of the Story: Just Call Your Regular Insurance Person 

I finally gave our regular homeowner’s insurance rep a call. She tells me something terrifying. They wouldn’t cover damage if the water seeped in from the ground. I guess it’s a quirk of insurance policies, and I’m still not sure exactly why. If the water comes in from the window wells, or a water heater bursts or a bathtub overflows, then it’s covered. 

I wasn’t sure how the water came in, but I’m starting to think we might be out of pocket for this entire cleanup and repair. That’s when I finally tell Mr. Flood Guy that he has to take his machines and get out. He was disappointed and sulky, but he left without too much fuss.  

The basement was still wet, but this project is now on me, and I was ready to get to work. The regular claims adjuster rep couldn’t come for a few days, but in the meantime, I went and rented my own carpet fans and dehumidifiers to continue drying out. 

And then I decided to rip out the carpet, because why keep it? And that’s when I had another realization — carpet is really heavy! The padding, which the flood guys had been so quick to rip out, is super light and easy to carry. But carpet, especially if it’s wet, is heavy and awkward and hard to maneuver. I was seething mad at this point, but happy that I had kicked them out! And ripping carpet helped with some of the stress.   

Fortunately, when the insurance rep made it out, she determined that the water had come in from the window wells, so our claim will be covered! It was such a great relief to know we wouldn’t have to pay the several thousand dollars it was going to cost to get our basement back in order. 

Tips for Dealing with a Basement Flood: 

Get to know your insurance agent! 

If you’ve never had a chat with them, just set up a call to review your policy and make sure your coverage is adequate. If you’re not satisfied with their explanations or don’t have good chemistry, then consider switching your plan. There are plenty of outstanding agents out there, and they want you to have the right coverage (and many of them are not trying to rip you off). If you would like a recommendation, I have a few good ones to share. 

Now that you’re friends with your agent, call them before making a claim of any kind. 

If your situation doesn’t qualify for a payout, sometimes they’ll be able to tell you over the phone, and you can avoid an attempt at a claim, which will count against you (even if you don’t get paid out) and may cause an increase in premium. 

Research your service people — even if you are panicked. 

After this experience, I’d venture to say the flood recovery service business is a bit shady. They find a job, and they’re on the ready – swooping in with machines. When they get the job, they extend the project to drive up the cost. This particular company had been recommended on Nextdoor, which is usually a pretty good resource — but in my rush, I didn’t thoroughly check them out. 

Your insurance agent should be able to recommend a reputable service person to call. 

Of course, my agent knew a good guy, and he came out to give us a “clean bill of health” once we were dried out. He didn’t even charge for it. 

Be familiar with your policy coverage! 

I know it’s not exciting material, but it’s helpful to know what’s covered, and where you might have gaps. Had I been better prepared, I would have saved myself a lot of time, frustration and money. We can’t know all the intricacies of homeowners’ insurance, but it’s helpful to be familiar with your policy — and ask your agent any questions. The good ones are on your side and will help immeasurably to ensure you’ve got the right coverage. 

In the end, we got a pretty good settlement check! I’m not sure how much our premium will go up, but I’m happy we didn’t have to pay for the remediation and floor repair. 

And guess what? No more carpet for us! We’re doing polished concrete, and I’m excited! 

Basement Flooring Trends in 2020

Basement Flooring Options Pros & Cons  

A basement flooring upgrade can be a game changer for house. It will increase the value of your home and also your enjoyment of this sometimes overlooked and underutilized space.

Basements are by definition below grade, so the space is more susceptible to water infiltration and higher levels of moisture and humidity. You must make sure it’s dry — and will stay dry — before upgrading the floors. Make sure to protect your investment!  

Here’s a roundup of the latest basement flooring options.   

Here’s a writeup of pros and cons of each.

Aging into Your Best Life in Colorado

Where and how you spend your later years has a huge impact on your quality of life. And Colorado offers some great options. Because it’s the third-fastest-aging state in the country, more and more developers and service providers are working to meet the demands of today’s seniors.

Age in Place
Moving is never easy, and for many folks there’s no place like home. With increased availability of home care and home-outfitting services, aging in place has become a good option for many people.
Additionally, today’s high home values offer a great advantage to Denver’s senior homeowners, especially those who have built up equity. Of course, equity doesn’t really pay the bills, but a reverse mortgage can. This tool is designed to help those age 62 and up who want access to some of their home equity in the form of cash, without having to sell or move. These payments come from the bank and can be used for any purpose, usually home maintenance, projects, property taxes, health care, and travel.

Downsize
If you want to simplify your lifestyle and/or reduce your expenses, downsizing can be a great option. Making the choice to sell your Denver home and move to a smaller, more affordable property can reduce your expenses and situate you in an easier space and location—one geared for today’s lifestyle with self-care in mind. Curious about Denver real estate for seniors in the Denver metro area? Have a look at the latest real estate listings savvy seniors might consider.

Consider Lifestyle, Neighborhood, and Community
Maybe you want to spend all your time gardening. Or perhaps you prefer the downtown lifestyle. You might have a dream of living in an RV for a few years, enjoying life on the road. Or if you have health issues, you might want to have more support and care. 

Today’s seniors have varied and unique needs and situations, so it’s important to have access to resources when considering these important housing decisions.

Jessica Wilkie has longtime experience in real estate and a wide network of specialized service providers in the senior services business community. Schedule a phone chat or sign up for Jessica’s newsletter to learn about your housing options and discuss housing planning and strategies.  

Downsizing for Seniors

Your House and Retirement — The Downsizing Option

Equity, or the value of your house after the mortgage is paid off, is a source of wealth that can be used as a reserve to help fund expenses in retirement. Downsizing, by moving from your larger home to a smaller and less expensive place, helps to “right-size” both the physical space of the house and reduce financial burdens of owning a larger home.  

Why Move?

If you’re in the right house, it may make the most sense to stay. Aging in place has its advantages — and of course it costs money to move — so if expenses are manageable and the house is comfortable “for the duration,” as my mom likes to say, this can be a great option. And one can still access equity with a reverse mortgage or home equity loan. (LINK) 

The Cost of Owning

However, while home owning is often the greatest store of wealth, it’s also one of the largest expenses. Taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance and repairs add up.

Downsizing can be a crucial move to free up capital, increase savings and allow you to live a more comfortable (and even more fun!) lifestyle as you grow older.

from the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College

Fact: Only 17% of Americans over 55 say they’re confident they’ll have enough to live on in retirement

Downsizing Can Offer

One-level living, better flow and features 

Fewer rooms to clean and take care of

Neighborhood suited to your lifestyle, access to your preferred amenities such as shops, restaurants, medical facilities, and/or closer to family

Home equity funds to reduce debt and/or reinvest for retirement

Free up funds for education, grandchildren, travel, charity — et cetera!

Reserve funds for health care costs

Option to delay Social Security payout, up to age 70

New lifestyle, new chapter!

In a Seller’s market, a great price on your house!

The Sooner You Move, the More You Save

Moving is never easy, especially if you’ve lived in the same house for a long time.

It will likely get more difficult with age, both physically and socially.

The sooner you downsize, the greater positive long-term effect it will have on your savings and expenses.

But I’ve Been in this House Forever. What About All My Stuff?

Moving is a big job, but you don’t have to take it on alone! With the help of a good Realtor, with a network of experienced and qualified professionals, you can get through this process.

Decluttering for Retirement: Consider the possibility — you could probably do without a lot of the stuff you own, and you may be surprised at how freeing it feels when you start letting it go.

Need Another Reason to Consider Selling? 

With high demand and low inventory, it’s a Seller’s market. Real estate prices in Denver are at an all-time high.

Interest rates are going up this year, and prices are expected to slow appreciation and/or stabilize this year.

Find out how much you could save with downsizing. Here’s a calculator.

What’s your home worth? Contact Jess for a complimentary valuation of your home.

If you’re considering downsizing, it’s time to start planning. Let’s get started!  

8 Simple Tips To Brighten Up Your Home This Spring

Spring is the perfect time of the year to freshen your home and give it a seasonal upgrade that will not only boost your mood, but create a more welcoming environment for others.

A spring spruce-up doesn’t need to be a daunting task. To help with the transition, I have included eight simple home decor ideas and strategies below to get your home ‘spring-ified’ in no time – Enjoy!

1. Declutter & Purge

It sounds cliche, but ‘spring cleaning’ is a must. I’m a big fan of decluttering — and think this should be a year-round task done frequently around the home (though my husband doesn’t always agree). Spring is an especially great time to do a big clean of your home, get rid of unwanted items, and organize odds and ends. Decluttering “clears the chi” and allows for improved communication and less stress at home and in your life as a whole.

Not sure where to start with your decluttering project? This article via Becoming Minimalist has some out of the box tips for easily decluttering your home: 10 Creative Ways to Declutter Your Home.

2. Clean Your Rugs

I’m always amazed by how much dirt and dander rugs hold, even if they are vacuumed regularly. Not only can dirty rugs provoke allergies and respiratory issues, but they add unwanted odors to the home and make the environment feel messy.

For the simplest approach, I like to beat and hang the smaller rugs outdoors for an instant dose of freshness. For a deeper clean, you can shampoo or steam clean your carpets. Of course you can always call a professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean, treat stains and make repairs.

3. Give Your Windows A Good Clean

Windows collect dust and grime over time, and while you may not notice, your visitors will. Let the light shine in and make your place more inviting by cleaning the windows.

The simplest way to allow more light into your home is to clean all of the windows. Here’s a handy how-to video using inexpensive materials. What else are you going to do this weekend?

4. Fresh Flowers

Whether you have a yard, a front porch, or a balcony, flowers brighten up any space instantly. A vase of flowers to your dining table or a cheery potted plant provide color and visual point of interest.

5. Incorporate Splashes Of Color

If your home has predominantly neutral and solid colors, it’s easy to give the overall ambiance a splash of color. The aforementioned flowers will do the trick, or you can play with colorful throw pillows, blankets, decorative ceramics, even a wild door mat to your entryway.

For inspiration, here are 11 Spring Color Palettes You Can Use Year Round.

6. Change Up The Wreath On Your Front Door

Wreaths can be used year-round, not just during the holidays. A fresh wreath mirrors the seasons and makes for a welcoming accessory that instantly invites people into your home.

 This Pinterest board has an incredible lineup of lively and beautiful wreaths for any season and occasion.

7. Placemats And Table Runners

Adding color with accessories like placemats and table runners is a quick and easy way to make a seasonal upgrade. In the winter months, I like to use metallic or silver colorings for my tables, but come spring/summer I switch to florals and colors. It brightens the mood and makes my home more inviting for brunch or dinner party guests.

8. Switch Out Your Bed Linens

Warmer weather will mean you might have to switch out your heavier bed linens to lighter ones to stay comfortable and cool at night. While you’re at it, why not opt for lighter and brighter colors to match the mood of the season?

In our home, we have beautiful bed linens from India that are so light and wonderful. It is always such a pleasure in the springtime to get these out and put them to use! I recently found an Indian vendor on Amazon – they don’t have the quilts but they have nice table cloths and sheets at reasonable prices.

So there you have it! I hope you gained some inspiration on ways to brighten up your home this season.