Are trendy, contemporary kitchens a good investment?

kitchen style

Dear Dave,

We’re in the market for buying a home. We have seen a lot of different houses and my wife and I are a bit divided when it comes to what we like in a kitchen. She really wants to buy a home with a more modern kitchen—you know granite counters, fancy glass backsplashes, etc. I on the other hand, want something that doesn’t seem so trendy.

What do you think of these new modern looking kitchens? Are they a good investment in a home or do you think it is a trend that will not be popular in a few years?

We would like to hear your take on this.

Thank you,

Luke and Jen - Fruita, CO


modern-kitchen

Luke and Jen,

Luke, don’t fight trendy! Give Jen what she wants and don’t look back! My bet is you will grow to love it and it will make your life better on many fronts! All kidding aside, trendy can be a problem when looking for a new home and proceeding with some caution is warranted. You ultimately want something that is somewhat timeless, if you can get it but don’t let the concern over the unknown future over ride what you love now!

Granite counter tops and glass backsplashes don’t necessarily constitute “trendy” or “modern”, however I think I know where you are going with this. A more “contemporary” look and feel is probably what is giving you some level of concern. There is no doubt the harder lines and colors that are typical of today’s contemporary kitchens are now what buyers are wanting. I believe you have to find some common or middle ground between the modern and timeless looks you each like so it will make it easier for a transition down the road. If you look closely, you can generally make about any kitchen or room less or more contemporary by changing paint colors, cabinet hardware, lighting and plumbing fixtures. Just as you can create a complete makeover on yourself, by changing your hairstyle and adding a stylish new jacket, you can do the same by making some of these small changes.

When the time comes you can make the changes needed to lessen the contemporary feel, if needed. Who knows, maybe this trend will be around for a long time and be more of a new normal, not a trend.

Some concern is warranted, however I would not be overly cautious, unless modern feel and style is over the top. When the time comes you can make the changes needed to lessen the contemporary feel, if needed. Who knows, maybe this trend will be around for a long time and be more of a new normal, not a trend. One of the things to remember is that contemporary works well in small spaces, as it feels less “heavy” and cluttered. If the size of homes continue to shrink, the contemporary style and function may stick around longer than anticipated.

One thing is for sure, regardless of what style you buy now, it will change over time. Purchase the home and style you love, or Jen loves, and don’t worry! My bet is your concern will not be worth the energy spent on it. As my wife often reminds me of the quote by Mark Twain, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” I wish I had said that, as my natural disposition is to worry about things I can’t control. I am working on this constantly and it is soooo hard! Hope this helps.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Will Solar Panels Increase My Home Value?

Dave,

A salesman knocked on my door last week selling solar panels. He said if I did a lease to own on the panels, I would cut my energy bill and be able to use some of the savings each month to pay for the panels. Cut my energy bill, pay for the panels with what I save, and still have some savings left—it sounds like a great deal. I’m considering giving him a call back to discuss how to move forward, but wanted to get some outside advice first.

On top of the savings he mentioned that when I went to sell my house, the value would increase dramatically…up to $50,000 possible on my house. It all sounds almost too good to be true! I am sure you have run across all this before.

Thanks for all the advice!

Doug, Grand Junction


Doug,

solar-panel

Like I discuss with my kids all the time, if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is! We could probably stop this answer here and cover the bases for 90% of home owners, but that would not be doing Paul Harvey any justice. We need to provide “the rest of the story”. I will preface this answer with full disclosure that I am not a solar expert. My answer is based on the stories I have been exposed to and the first hand experiences of our clients. There are MANY angles that need to be examined to determine if going solar is right for you.

I also realize that my answer does not take into account the sales person’s pitch about a meteoric rise in electricity costs that is coming. Listen, if the cost of electricity sky rockets, then my answer here is wrong! If you believe the cost of electricity will skyrocket and you are going to live in your home for MANY years to come, then purchasing solar panels makes all the sense in the world and you should stop reading now! If you’re still reading then you better think long and hard before taking the solar plunge. For most solar panel owners, it is more about the statement made by having them than the fiscal savings they actually provide. YES, solar energy is good for the environment and I don’t think there are many who would debate that. I don’t think there is any doubt that there is the need to focus and continue to develop renewable energy sources that reduce our carbon footprint, but specifically with solar, the real monetary benefits are likely to be years down the road.  

If you purchase a solar system for your home, there is no doubt you will reduce or eliminate your electricity bills, but at what cost? Obviously you will still have a natural gas or propane bill, thus seeing bigger savings in the summer and less in the winter. Let’s just hypothesize that you spend $25,000 (after any rebate or incentives) to put in your solar system. Let’s also say that your electricity bill is $150 per month or $1800 per year (remember you still will have a gas bill). It will take you 14 years to break even with the cost of the system. Not bad, but 14 years is a long time! According to Zillow the average family moves every 7 years! Uh oh, that math does not work. Looks like the true benefactor will be the home owner that’s two home owners down the line! Oh yeah, what about your property value increase? From my experience, to date, there is not a significant increase in home value of a home in our market with solar panels vs. one without. Maybe that changes in the future, but right now it is a selling feature, not a significant value add.

Not so fast my friend! Back to the first line of this article, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is.

Ok, so let’s not purchase the panels, let’s lease them…same great savings, but you don’t have to pay for them up front! Right? Not so fast my friend! Back to the first line of this article, if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. I have yet to encounter a solar leaser that left me saying, “now that’s a good deal” and I have seen many. Each and every lease has its angle, but ultimately, if you look into them you will encounter red tape and potentially unattractive answers. How easy will it transfer to a new owner? What happens if you want to remove them? What is the early prepayment penalty? What happens to them at the end of the lease? The list goes on and on and the answers are not always easy or cut and dry. Not to mention that when you go to sell you have to find a buyer who not only loves your home, but also loves your solar lease! Harder to do than you think…trust me.

Lastly, if your home was not built to energy star rating standards there are MANY things you can and should do to increase your home’s energy efficiency before you take the solar plunge. There are a lot of things to consider and it is a very personal choice. Best of luck and hope this helps…

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Will unattractive concrete on my driveway hinder the sale of my home?

Dear Dave,

My company is transferring me to a new location and I am going to be selling my home in the coming months. I own a fairly new home, about 6 years old, in a nice north area subdivision. My driveway and front walkway don’t melt off well when we get snow and ice, so I’ve resorted to having to put some salt down. Now, I’m noticing the concrete is looking chewed up, flaking off and is no longer smooth in a number of spots. Is this something that I should have fixed prior to listing my house? I don’t want to invest too much if it’s not going to be worth it or isn’t going to make that big of a deal on the sale of my house. I would appreciate your advice.

Michael, Grand Junction


Michael,

What you have is called concrete spalling. It is generally quite common in colder climates where you get repeated freeze and thaw cycles and it is exacerbated by deicing chemicals used to help overcome ice buildup on driveways and sidewalks. Even though you are guilty of using salt, I hear this quite often from people who have never used salt or other chemicals to melt ice that has built up on their driveway.  Even if you don’t use them directly, your car will pick them up from the roads and especially the highways and when it melts off your car or truck on your driveway….well you get the picture. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to avoid this issue you still inadvertently fall victim of chemicals on public roads and highways.

This is primarily a cosmetic issue and it would be rare for the structural integrity of your driveway to be compromised. Although the structural integrity has, most likely, not been compromised, it is unsightly and does not help make a good first impression. Depending on the severity, I would probably not recommend re-pouring your entire driveway and would just make sure to sweep it clean and as presentable as possible. If you repeatedly hear feedback on the driveway and it appears that the unsightly finish is costing you the sale, then you may have to rethink this position, however the cost will be significant. I have heard of people having a skim coat of concrete applied to the surface of a spalling driveway, however the results have been temporarily satisfactory, but has not proven to be a good long term solution.

If you repeatedly hear feedback on the driveway and it appears that the unsightly finish is costing you the sale, then you may have to rethink this position, however the cost will be significant.

Get a quote from a local concrete company, before a sign goes in your yard, so you have a baseline cost in case it does become an issue for a prospective buyer. This way you will have the cost already figured out. If needed you can make a concession should your prospective buyer make an issue of it. My advice would be to not replace it now and see how the process of selling goes. With a quote in hand you will be properly armed to negotiate the new driveway, should it become an issue.

When trying to sell, it is easy to get hung up on a less than appealing aspect of your home, like a spalling driveway. Try to focus on all the great characteristics of your home and make sure to play up those positive features and many times those unique characteristics will overshadow one less than savory feature. Selling a house is a lot like life. Try to keep your focus on the positives and many times those positive features will help overcome obstacles. Hope this helps. Good luck and I am sure it will work out fine.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Should we use an agent even if he didn't show us the house we plan to purchase?

using-a-realtor

Dave,

We’ve been on the hunt for a new house! We’ve used an agent to look at four houses so far, but last night we were driving through a neighborhood that we love and saw a great house that is currently for sale by owner. We called the phone number on the sign and they happened to be home. We took a tour of the house and had a great time talking with the owner about all of the house’s character and history. To make a long story short, my husband and I went home and after a lot of discussion we think this house is the one! Do we need to use the agent that showed us houses before to make an offer on the house? We don’t really feel attached to him, he did not find us the house and we think we can navigate the process from here on our own. Any advice?

Thank you!
Becky, Fruita


Small House.jpg

Becky,

Ugh…Why this question? You are cruel and must love the thought of seeing people squirm! I can think of few questions I would rather avoid than this one.  The reason I would choose to avoid this question is that the answer may not sit well with my peers, potentially even those on my own team! First, if you signed an agency agreement, you are likely bound to this agreement and kicking him to the curb may prove difficult. However, if you did not sign an agreement, then the decision is fully in your court. This answer boils down to has your agent earned the right to work with you? Regardless of who found the home or if it is in the MLS or FSBO (For Sale by Owner), has he earned the right to work with you?

By earning the right, I am not just referencing the act of showing you homes.   Showing homes is truly one of the easier and more enjoyable parts of a Realtor’s job. I will start by pointing out that showing a buyer houses is generally the product of many hours invested in trying to find you the perfect house. It often means taking calls on the weekends, during family picnics, in the evening or during baseball or soccer practices. Good Realtors, or even bad ones for that matter, are never truly “off” work and typically behind every showing there are countless unseen and often underappreciated hours of work trying to locate you the perfect property. I would be willing to bet, if you took a minute of honest reflection, you know if your agent has earned the privilege to work with you. If he has, stick with him and have him help you find a solution to your dilemma. Be honest with him and give him the opportunity to “earn” his keep. Our agents welcome the chance to earn their commission…we do not want, or expect, to be paid unless we have earned it and I believe most agents would agree with that position. 

Give him the chance to negotiate a better price, or build his commission into the price of the home to help assist you and the FSBO in making the process go smoothly and avoid some of the legal pitfalls that can be encountered if everyone does not dot their I’s and cross their T’s.

Give him the chance to negotiate a better price, or build his commission into the price of the home to help assist you and the FSBO in making the process go smoothly and avoid some of the legal pitfalls that can be encountered if everyone does not dot their I’s and cross their T’s. More often than not, we have found that FSBO’s welcome the help and guidance and are willing to work with a real estate agent who can provide value! Providing value is key in this discussion, because cost is an issue when there is an absence of value. If he has provided value thus far, give him the opportunity to continue doing so!

Listen, if he really has not “earned” the right, and you are not kicking him to the curb to simply justify or facilitate financial savings, then move on and purchase the home on your own and forego representation. My Grandfather told me long ago, “you will find out all you need to know about a person’s character when you dig into their wallet.” I am not sure a truer statement has ever been made. Don’t make the decision based on dollars and cents, make it based on his ability and track record of providing you value and service. Hope this helps, but I am confident a little soul searching will point you in the right direction.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Buying a home with pet & smoke odors? Here's how to get rid of them!

pet-odor

Dear Dave,

After months of house hunting, we have found one that is within our budget and which perfectly suits our needs. The problem is house odors. The sellers are an older couple who both smoke and who have a dog and two cats that stay indoors most of the time. We have mentioned our concern to the sellers, but they don't share our concern. We assume that by replacing all the carpets and completely repainting, we could eliminate the odors. If so, we would make an offer that covered those expenses. Two questions: first, do you have any experience resolving odor problems and second, how could we include these expenses in our mortgage so that the cost will be incurred after the closing?

Julie, Location Withheld


pet-odor

Julie,

It is exciting that you finally found the perfect house, but with less than perfect odors I am sure you are feeling a bit disappointed!  I will admit that odors, especially smoke and pet, are powerful value killers and there is little that zaps the value right out of a property more than if a cat or dog have been acting as though the carpet was indoor grass or the home smells like an ashtray. The purchase of a new home very much involves the senses and if the odor is offensive, it is an immediate turn off, but often times the people who live there have no idea how bad it really is.

The seller does not share your concern because, one, they are no longer going to live there and it really won’t be their problem once the new buyer moves in. Two, they do not have the funds to correct the problem and thus they deny there is a problem because they financially can’t admit to it or afford to correct it. Three, they really do not care if they sell or not, thus only taking an offer from someone who is willing to either fix the problem on their dime or learn to live with the odor! Most of these are not options that buyers want to hear, but at times they are the reality. Fortunately there are a couple of options.

If you are dealing with primarily smoke odors (as they do not work well on pet odors), an ozonator air purifier may work.
pet-odor
andrew-branch-197038.jpg

First, the option of replacing all the carpet and having the interior completely repainted will typically do the trick, depending on how bad the odors are. You must also consider if the pet odors are significant, you may have to paint the floors with Kilz or some kind of seal coat to cover up or seal any pet stains that have soaked into the sub floor underneath the carpet and pad, yikes!! It sounds worse than it is, but remember this may need to be done. If you are dealing with primarily smoke odors (as they do not work well on pet odors), an ozonator air purifier may work. I have seen it do wonders with odors caused by smoking. Good Shepard Flooring here in Grand Junction have these units available for rent and are very cost effective. Generally speaking, ozone ionizers work at a molecular level and can remove smoke odors from homes, cars, boats etc...I will admit that I am no molecular scientist and thus have no “real” working knowledge of how they work, but I know from experience they can do an amazing job at removing smoke smells from a home or car. You MUST remove all living organisms, i.e. people, cats, dogs, fish, plant etc..(anything you want to remain alive), while the unit is in use and then you can all return home after the treatment and the home has been opened back up. I would highly recommend a professional be hired to help with their use, don’t just get the wise idea to go buy one off the internet.

Lastly you can do what is called a 203K loan which would allow you to escrow the funds for the needed repairs after closing. These loans can be more difficult to manage, so finding a lender who has experience with them will make things run much smoother during the purchase process and after close you will have the funds to make the needed repairs to the property. Keep in mind that the repair costs can’t push the loan value needed over the appraised value. Ask your lending professional if they have experience working with 203k loans and their success rate. This can be a very viable option for repairs needed, even if the repairs or changes are just for taste and by this I mean, the carpet does not have to be stained to qualify for a 203K loan, you may just want a different color.

I hope these suggestions help and I am hopeful that you will find a solution.  

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

When is the correct time for a final walk through?

Dear Dave,

My wife and I recently sold our home. Prior to the closing a final walk through was scheduled so that the people buying our home could take a look at it right before closing. We had not planned on their visit and no one told us this would happen until that morning. We were in the middle of packing and moving and it was very uncomfortable for us. They were there for over an hour!

We would like to know if this is a usual occurrence. What do you recommend?

Thank you,
Name Withheld, Fruita, CO


walk-through

This is a very common occurrence. In the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell Real Estate, section 19.4 specifically spells out the right of the buyer to a “Walk-Through and Verification of Condition”. This is intended to allow the buyer to verify the condition of the property, prior to close, and make sure the property and its inclusions comply with the contract. Our team does a walk thru prior to close on every transaction when working with the buyer and this is to allow everyone to verify that the condition is the same as it was at the time the contract was written and accepted. It is far better to find that the fridge is missing prior to close than after close. Finding problems after closing are then the problem of the new owner. If a fridge was supposed to stay with the house and it was moved to Texas and we discover that after closing somebody is buying a new fridge and deciding who that will be may not be easy. I have bought a few too many fridges, washers, dryers etc.

What you were victim of was poor agent planning and communication. Your agent should have filled you in advance and let you know that a walk through verification was standard fare and sometimes they can take an hour or so.

What you were victim of was poor agent planning and communication. Your agent should have filled you in advance and let you know that a walk through verification was standard fare and sometimes they can take an hour or so. The buyers are not trying to be troublesome, they are just excited about their new home and probably can’t wait to make it their own. When you are in the closing stages of moving an hour can be quite inconvenient and seem like a lifetime, especially if you were not planning on it.  I am sorry it was uncomfortable, however it is every buyer’s contractual right and your agent should have provided you with some notice so you could plan for it.  Next time you will be prepared and expect their visit and it will not be uncomfortable and you will probably find getting to know them enjoyable!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Large or small trees for new landscaping?

trees-landscaping

Dear Dave,

I have been out shopping at the local nurseries trying to get some ideas on landscaping materials. My home is about seven years old and doesn’t have many established trees in the yard. There are different sizes of trees throughout the neighborhood. Due to price I want to know what you think is better to do - plant only a couple of large trees or plant about 3 times as many smaller trees? My wife has one opinion and I have another - I won’t tell you which so you can give your honest opinion!

Thanks-
Lee and Jenni, Fruita


Lee and Jenni,

Ok, this is an easy one for me and I will be honest! Go with the larger trees.  Planting saplings in the yard and waiting seven more years for them to become trees is for sure one of my pet peeves. We are currently planting some trees at my own home and my wife and I banter this issue back and forth virtually every day the tree planting topic comes up.

She says, in a few years they will mature out etc…and I say that I would prefer them to look somewhat mature now. I don’t want to wait years to enjoy them. I won’t tell you who will win at my house, but at your home I hope the bigger tree vote wins! In my opinion this is one instance where bigger really is better! :) Happy planting.

Dave

Tips for Choosing the Best Realtor to Sell Your Home

Hello Dave,

 Let’s assume that I have done my homework and I have decided on a Realtors’ office based on brand name recognition, market share, aggressive marketing, reputation and other factors. Now what? Is there a way that I can pick an agent within that company based on their success, professionalism, enthusiasm, abilities, etc.?

There are good, better and best (most productive) in any office. How can I decide who or which company is better for me to list my home with?

Thanks,

Dave, Cedaredge


Dave,

I could write a book answering your question, however, I am going to do my best to not be overly verbose or opinionated and stick to facts and try to be as objective as possible. First, I applaud you for “doing your homework”! For most people, their home is one of, if not their largest investment, and it always shocks me how little “real” homework people do when choosing an agent or real estate company. If you stop and think about it, trusting such an investment with someone who does not have a proven track record just does not make sense.  However,  people make that choice every single day!

All of the qualities you listed in your question are important when evaluating agents and companies. Brand name recognition, market share, reputation and other factors are all key elements in choosing a real estate company and evaluating those factors should allow you to narrow down your choice in the real estate company you choose. You mentioned aggressive marketing and I suggest you use that element of evaluation as one you use when evaluating agents, not your real estate company. The reason I suggest this is that each individual real estate agent markets their properties differently. No two agents do things just alike and to ensure your agent of choice has an “aggressive marketing” plan you MUST evaluate every aspect of how they will market your property and the vision they have for YOUR specific marketing plan. How an agent presents and prepares your marketing plan will tell you all you need to know about your potential for success and their abilities.

When you evaluate the agent’s specific marketing plan you will learn a lot about their professionalism, enthusiasm and track record of success…or lack thereof. My suggestion would be to choose your agent on all the aspects you have listed! Trust me on this one, the level of marketing expertise and understanding displayed is likely a VERY strong indicator of your chances of a positive outcome. Just putting a property on the MLS does not cut it anymore! They should have a strong plan across many mediums like internet, social media, agent to agent promotion, direct to consumer programs, newspaper, radio, television and more. If they have this in place, you can bet they are enthusiastic about their job and work at it as a profession, not a hobby or way to collect some extra vacation money. Search for someone who is full time and HAS A PLAN for you and your property.

If the agent checks the boxes listed above, then I can almost guarantee they are productive and achieve results on a high level. Really, who doesn’t want a top level agent working on the sale of their home?

If the agent checks the boxes listed above, then I can almost guarantee they are productive and achieve results on a high level. Really, who doesn’t want a top level agent working on the sale of their home? I would pray that nobody ever hires an agent based on an average marketing plan or expecting an average result. Don’t settle! Follow some of the selection methods I have listed and you will find the best agent in any office or town. It is just like anything else, the cream rises to the surface and typically it’s pretty clear who performs and who doesn’t. Remember, success does leave clues.

Lastly, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. Being a father is not easy—it’s a tough job that requires leadership, dedication, patience, understanding, selflessness and unconditional love! Keep up the good work and remember it is far more important to be a dad than it is to be a friend. Friends will come and go, but your Dad will always be there! Thanks Dad.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team