Tips for Making a Strong Offer on a Home

Large American beautiful house with red door.

Dave,

We’ve got a few questions on home prices. Do Realtors list homes at a higher price knowing that most offers will come in below asking price or are homes listed for close to their estimated value? We are going to be looking for a home in the upcoming months and are wondering how we should determine what to offer on a home if we find one we like. How do you determine value and what to offer? Furthermore, what happens if an offer gets rejected? We are just trying to figure out how this part of the home buying process works. We love reading your column each week!

Thanks,

Jody and Tom, Grand Junction


Jody and Tom,

Ok, you do have a few questions, but they are all good ones! I will do my best to answer them all, but excuse my brevity as my space is limited. The way Realtors price homes varies from agent to agent and market to market. Some agents will do just what you are talking about, price the home above market value expecting a lower offer. With this technique the agent builds in cushion to come down when the lower offer arrives, but also risking that the price is far enough above market value that it gets skipped over by prospective buyers. Other agents will try to price the home in line with sold comparable properties, within the past 6-12 months is best, and then adjust up or down depending on market conditions and competing listings.  Pricing is at least as much art as is it is science and there are a hundred ways to skin a cat. The more you try to figure it out, the more confusing it will likely be. Your primary goal should be to not try and decide how they priced the property, but have your agent help you determine a fair price for the home from comparable property sales and similar active properties and make what you believe to be a fair offer.

When you find a property you want to make an offer on, your agent will be able to help you determine a fair offer price.

When you find a property you want to make an offer on, your agent will be able to help you determine a fair offer price. I find that most buyers look at quite a few homes before purchasing. By the time they decide to make an offer, they have a good feel for the market and know what asking prices are and are not appropriate for the market conditions. If you and your agent determine that the price is higher than it should be then feel free to provide the comparable properties you used to determine your price when you make your offer. Many times the list price is not the agent’s suggested price, but the price the seller “needs” or “wants” in order to sell. Keep in mind that price may or may not be in line with the market, but providing a thought out analysis for why you are offering your price might help “make your case” with the seller and the seller’s agent. Whenever you make an offer at less than asking price you always run the risk that it will not be well received and even rejected.

Rejected offers are never the goal, but depending on your offer price sometimes they are the only way for a seller to respond. If the offer is insultingly low (greater than ten percent) then a rejection may be the best way to respond. A rejected offer by the seller can be received by the buyer in one of two ways. It will either be received as “take a hike” or it will be received as “reload and try again with something closer.” On a rejection, the choice of how you respond will be up to you and dependent on how much you really love the home. You can either reload and try again with a higher offer, or move on to your next choice! Keep in mind there is no playbook for how these things work and that is why the agent you choose to work with is of the utmost importance.

Choosing an agent who is experienced and has a proven track record is a critical part in helping you pre-determine your desired result. If you are out to sea and find yourself in the middle of a storm, big or small, would you rather have a captain that has been there, done that and survived or a green horn who not only does not know what to do, but is looking to you for answers and direction? The answer is obvious. Experience is undervalued when the going is easy, but there is no doubt about its value when the going gets tough! How about that for some free life advice while answering a real estate question! It’s because of questions like yours that this column exists, so thanks for reading. Best of luck.   

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Have a Question? Ask Dave!

Name *
Name

Should I Repair My Roof Before Selling?

red door and cat

Hi Dave,

I am planning to put my town home up for sale in the next 12-18 months. I’ve done a lot of remodeling on the inside and am happy with the results. Over the 5 years I’ve lived in this town home, the roof has suffered from the frequent high winds. 

In your opinion, would potential buyers be turned off by this (it’s most noticeable from the rear of the home and not so much in the front), even if I offered a lower price to reflect the need for a new roof? Or should I bite the bullet and spend the money now, even though my experience with local roofers was a nightmare when I had to have a minor repair done earlier this year? I dread dealing with replacing the whole roof, but I don’t want to turn buyers off either. Your input would be appreciated.

Cathi, Grand Junction


Cathi,

One thing I have learned over the years is, there are a few basic characteristics every home buyer expects as a “given” or “minimum expectation” when purchasing their home and having a functional roof is one of those expectations. Buyers expect, and rightly so, that the roof is in good condition with a minimum of 3-5 years remaining on the anticipated life expectancy. Because this is a basic expectation for any buyer, you can assume that very few, if any, are going to be willing to pay significantly more for the home because the roof is new or newer. In my experience a new roof has roughly the same value add as a 15 year old roof! If your roof is new the buyer may appreciate that it is in better condition than a competing house and this may help it sell somewhat faster, but as long as the life expectancy is more than 5 years don’t expect to reap any real tangible monetary benefits. However, conversely a roof in poor condition will likely cost you thousands more than the actual replacement costs! 

After 17 years of experience, here is what I would do…First, get the roof inspected by a licensed roofer of your own, before you go to sell. See if he can provide a 5 year life expectancy statement. Many roofers will not want to provide any life expectancy quotes as there are so many variables in life expectancy, but find one that will give you a “not going to hold you to it” ball park expectancy so you can make an educated decision. If you are 6+ years (since you will be selling in 1 year) just have him provide you a quote on replacement. Even though the quote will no longer be good, you will at least have an idea of the cost moving forward if it later becomes an issue. I believe it is always in a seller’s best interest to get a roofing quote when there is NOT a for sale sign in the front yard. This just lessens the potential for a conflict of interest and provides the best opportunity for straight up cost quote without a potential sale hanging in the balance. Ultimately if you get a licensed professional that says that it should last another 6+ years under normal conditions then I believe you are good to not replace and just move forward assuming that it will be non-issue, but prepared if it becomes a sticking point!

On the other hand, if the roofer says it is nearing the end of its useful life, then you have a couple options!

On the other hand, if the roofer says it is nearing the end of its useful life, then you have a couple options! If you know it needs to be replaced, just replace it! By replacing it you avoid a myriad of potential issues that can arise down the road and also eliminates the possibility that it becomes an issue during the inspection or appraisal. Even if you agree to replace the roof at the time of inspection it can cause a buyer to hesitate and re-think their purchase and it is best not to even open the “re-think your decision” door. Don’t even give a home inspector the opportunity to tarnish the buyer’s opinion of their new home, nip it in the bud now! I know, buying a new roof is about as sexy as putting in a new septic system or hooking your home up to city sewer…trust me, I know it’s not at the top of anybody’s list. When I had my home hooked up to city sewer it literally felt like flushing $15k down the toilet. A necessary cost that will never be recouped when/if we go to sell. If you know that it will need to be done, remove any chance of it becoming a point of contention down the road and bite the bullet now and have it replaced.

Just like anything there are good contractors and bad contractors. Don’t let your past experience dictate your decision or influence your future. You have time, ask around and find a reputable roofer who will provide a fair price and do a great job. If you are unable to find one, call us and we can provide you with several names and help you find the right one! Or you can check out our listed of trusted professional at PeopleWeTrust.net. I hope this helps!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Selling Your House—Holiday Decorating Tips

decorating-for-Christmas

Dear Dave,

We have had our home on the market since the beginning of October. Now that the holidays are upon us, we would really like to be able to decorate for the holidays—but we don’t want to scare away potential buyers. We would typically set up a couple of holiday blow-ups in our yard, as well as decorate our house with Christmas lights—our kids just love this. Do you think that is too much? What do you recommend when someone is trying to sell their home during the holiday season?

Thanks in advance and Merry Christmas!

Jack and Linda, Fruita, CO


holiday-decorating-when-selling-your-house

Jack and Linda,

I say, decorate and enjoy the holidays. In my opinion, a home never feels more like a home than it does during the Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I don’t believe you will scare anyone away, but remember to decorate tastefully and try to err on the side of too little rather than too much. Believe me, if you kids love the way you decorate the likelihood is the families that come to look at your home during the holidays will love it also. 

Remember that buying a home is still very much a “feel” thing for most buyers and the more senses you get involved and the more “like a home” you make your home feel the better off you are. I can tell you that more often than not, when a buyer gets a feel about a home and they can picture themselves or their family living there, your chances of them making an offer go up significantly. Also, don’t be afraid to bake some cookies, pies, a cake or at the least light a candle that plays up the season. Note that a little Christmas music will not hurt your cause either. We purchased our cinnamon pine cones this weekend for less than 5 bucks and they smell wonderful. This is the greatest time of year to have fun and get immersed in the season, enjoy it because it will be gone too soon.

The key take away here is tasteful and not overdone, yet have fun and enjoy the season.

The key take away here is tasteful and not overdone, yet have fun and enjoy the season. The spirit of the holidays is contagious and my bet is someone will catch the spirit at your house this season. Have a wonderful Christmas and don’t be shocked when your home sells because it looks so good!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

De-Icing Tips for the Winter Season

De-icing-tips-for-winter

Dear Dave,

I occasionally use salt on my driveway to melt snow. It is north facing and I have a heck of a time getting it to melt without using a melting agent. I have had a few neighbors who have had a lot of trouble with their concrete because they use salt to melt the ice and now the concrete is falling apart in places.

I am sure you have run across this before, what would be your recommendation on this? I really don’t want to have chipped up concrete if I can avoid it and I certainly don’t want to be the cause of it!

I would appreciate your input - thanks!

George


George,

This is a common problem and one we talk about a lot this time of year, especially after we have received some snow and the temperatures have remained close or below freezing for an extended period of time. While investigating your options I decided to consult a friend of mine who is a concrete expert, Lawrence Balerio at High Grade Concrete here in Grand Junction.  Lawrence knows all things concrete.

“There are several solutions to managing icy concrete during the winter months, but your first line of defense is to make sure to shovel all snow off your concrete before you walk or drive over it. Also make sure to divert all water off your concrete surfaces.” The removal of snow from your concrete will greatly reduce your need to use ice melt products. “The de-icing products typically don’t attack the concrete, but by lowering the freezing temperature this may increase the number of freeze and thaw cycles of the moisture on and in the surface of the concrete. When moisture in the surface layer of the concrete freezes it will expand which results in small areas of the concrete popping off or spalling.”

Remember that the deicing products are meant to be removed with the snow and ice and when they are not removed and just left to sit and dissolve on the concrete surface, this is when the real trouble occurs.

Remember that the deicing products are meant to be removed with the snow and ice and when they are not removed and just left to sit and dissolve on the concrete surface, this is when the real trouble occurs. Lawrence also says there are several other methods that can be useful for ice and snow. “Kitty litter and sand are also helpful to have. They will not melt the ice or snow, but will allow some added traction and reduce the likelihood of slipping and having a nasty fall. You can also take a hammer and tap on the ice and many times that will break it up enough to be removed, without having to use any foreign material and can be done without damaging your concrete.”

Last but not least, there is preventative maintenance that can be done. Balerio says, “Prevention is your best defense. By having your concrete sealed every year or at least every other year, you will give it a protective layer that will prevent damage from the freeze/thaw cycles.”

As you can see, there are no easy answers, but at a minimum you can prevent a lot of problems by proactively shoveling your sidewalks and drive ways. Avoid the buildup of ice and snow on your concrete and consider having your concrete sealed as a preventative measure next spring or summer. I have heard it my whole life and in this case it is true, all things in moderation! If you have to use ice melt products, use them in moderation and make sure you remove the residue as soon as the ice and snow have melted. Have a wonderful winter and go pick up a new snow shovel and get a little exercise the next time it snows!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Have a Question? Ask Dave!

Name *
Name

Will installing a security system increase the value of my home?

Covered front porch of theold craftsman style home.

Dear Dave,

I spend a lot of time out of town and am considering getting a home security system installed. I am sure you have come across plenty of homes that have security systems and might have specific brands or companies that you would recommend. Do you think installing a security system will increase the value of my home? Are there any specific features I should consider? I know there are a lot of options out there and many include smart technology. Any help you can provide would be great—I’m just not exactly sure where to begin. 

Thanks,

Brad


Brad,

Ok, I am by no means a security system expert. Truth be told, I do not see many homes that have security systems installed. Generally, I think most Grand Valley residents find living here safe and have very few concerns about their overall safety. I don’t believe residents worry very much about their home being broken into or things being stolen. I am certain that as the Valley’s population continues to grow, so will the concern relating to crime. From this perspective being proactive is probably a very good idea. Also, if you are away from your home for long stretches of time on a regular basis it would be nice to have a system that is keeping an eye on your home.

I don’t have any specific recommendations for specific brands or companies, however, when I do see them they are typically Superior Alarms or ADT systems. I would have to say that I do not think a security system will provide a valuable boost to your home, however, some buyers may find it a good selling feature. Many buyers who move here from larger metropolitan areas are interested in security systems, as they are the norm in many areas of the country. I would suggest you invest in one that has smart home features that allow you to view and operate remotely from your computer or smartphone. This kind of technology is the wave of the future in everything and if you are going to have it, you need to be able to access it from wherever you are located. I do believe that many systems can also be integrated into other home features such as screens, lights, door locks and more. 

One great feature available now is the security screen. Since we live in an arid climate, where many homes feature evaporative coolers as the primary means of cooling, security screens can prove to be a very useful feature.

One great feature available now is the security screen. Since we live in an arid climate, where many homes feature evaporative coolers as the primary means of cooling, security screens can prove to be a very useful feature. To draft your evaporative cooler you have to leave a window cracked. This inherently leaves your home vulnerable, but with a security screen if anyone tries to remove it or cut it the alarm will sound. That is a nice feature to have, especially if you have an evaporative cooler as your home's means of cooling. I am sure there are a ton of options and one of the companies can custom create a security system that will work perfectly for your home and lifestyle. Keep in mind that peace of mind may be the most important feature a security system can provide! Sometimes that peace of mind is all the “value” increase required. Let me know how it goes and what you learn! 

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Have a Question? Ask Dave!

Name *
Name

Should You Avoid Purchasing a Home in a Floodplain?

buying-a-home-in-a-flood-plain

Dear Dave,

I am considering buying a home that is on some property with river access. My concern is flooding. The news has had stories of flooding the past couple of summers and it has us a bit wary of making the purchase.

Can you give me some advice on buying a home that has the potential to flood? What do I need to consider other than flood insurance? I want to enjoy the potential benefits of having a home near the water, but I also want to factor in potential problems that could come up.

I would really appreciate your advice!

Thank you,
Steve and Michelle - Fruita, CO


Steve and Michelle,

I totally understand your hesitations and purchasing a home that is in the floodplain. If you live in a floodplain then there is always the chance that your home will flood, but remember that is what flood insurance is for! Clearly if you are going to purchase the home and receive a mortgage to purchase then you will be required to obtain flood insurance to get your loan. If you are going to live in a floodplain, then you have to realize that your home may flood and your belongings and home have the potential for extensive damage. Can you live with that? Do you love the house and property enough to live with the threat of flooding? How significant is the threat of flooding? 

Let’s put some perspective behind flooding in Western Colorado. Not intending to minimize the impact or the chances for flooding here, but this is not southern Louisiana where you are at risk of flooding nearly year round. Our main concerns for flooding are heavy rains that cause flash flooding in creeks, washes and ravines or high water in the rivers from spring run off after heavy winter snow in the mountains and a quick thaw. According to FEMA Maps the Colorado River is a high risk flood area in Grand Junction, however this is in areas along the river banks and adjacent areas. If you are considering a purchase that is along the Colorado River, you must accept that the possibilities of a flood are real. My bigger concern would be the potential impact on resale down the road.

If you are considering a purchase that is along the Colorado River, you must accept that the possibilities of a flood are real. My bigger concern would be the potential impact on resale down the road.

Rest assured that if you are struggling with the decision, others will follow suit. The threat of flooding will always cause some to back away, however I believe most will understand that the risks are relatively low and not let that impact their willingness to purchase if the property is the right fit. The last issue would be to talk to your insurance professional and make sure that flood insurance costs are not prohibitive. It is my understanding that flood insurance is a fairly low cost insurance policy to have here and not something that will typically break the bank. Checking with your insurance professional should clear up any cost questions as you work through the process.  

I am of the opinion that living near water, whether it is a creek, canal, wash or river is special and likely worth the risks. Remember, just make sure you have flood insurance and make sure to make your payments…just in case! Enjoy!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

How to Market Your Home When It Goes Back on Market

Exterior of small American house with blue paint

Dave,

Help! We listed our home about a month ago. We had a decent number of showings, great feedback and we even got an offer not long after listing it. We accepted the offer, but unfortunately after two weeks of being under contract the buyer's loan fell through. Now our home is back on the market, but it seems like everything has done a complete 180. It's been radio silence! We have only had 2 showings since coming back on the market! What could have possibly changed over the last two weeks and what can we do to get things moving again?

Dennis & Gail, Grand Junction


Old cute house

Dennis & Gail,

Ugh, I am sorry…I can’t tell you how many times I have seen this scenario play out and its almost never an easy answer! When a property first hits the market there is an innate amount of momentum that is generated by just being a new property. The amount of momentum generated, if done properly, can be exponentially increased based on condition, marketing and price etc. It is always our goal to generate as much momentum as possible. Riding the momentum wave after launch is key and the more momentum you generate the longer you can ride the wave. Momentum in real estate is often overlooked and undervalued, but it is a vital goal when putting together a purposeful marketing strategy and turning back to that strategy to kick things back into gear again is where you must turn! Just like in a football game when big “MO” is on one team’s side it seems like they can do no wrong, but nothing kills momentum like a turnover, penalty or some other miscue. A property that falls out of contract is like a turnover in the big game, it can often times kill the momentum and to get it back you must dig deep into your marketing tool box!

It is absolutely one of the most frustrating parts of selling a home. The excitement of getting an acceptable contract to the agony of losing the buyer and having to start over again. It is not only emotionally painful, but the reality of the re-start can be another unexpected blow, especially when it is hard to wrestle the momentum back. This impact can be compounded right now as we are entering the winter months and the holiday season where fewer buyers are roaming the streets and contracts are nearing 50% of the spring/summer time highs. When this situation happens on our team, it is an all hands on deck affair. We know that getting that old engine going again is harder the second time around. Hopefully your agent has a proven marketing strategy that you can fall back on to rekindle the fire of a listing that has lost its spark. 

When this situation happens on our team, it is an all hands on deck affair. We know that getting that old engine going again is harder the second time around.

We start by messaging the entire database of real estate agents, especially those who may have previously shown the property, about the fact that we are back on market and often times offer some kind of small incentive or price reduction to give a fresh look and price. We also might switch up photos or re-work the write up so it appears fresh and new. We immediately focus on our electronic footprint (all electronic marketing) to ensure re-distribution happens as soon as possible and this includes making sure to re-run or re-launch social media campaigns to get the word out in as many arenas as possible. Obviously the more marketing you can do to get the word out and making the effort to track down any previous “warm” leads to inform them of the property’s new found available status can significantly help your cause. Make sure to employ every method possible to proactively spread the word.

The most important trait you must exhibit under your current circumstance is patience. Patience in this situation is going to be the key to your sanity and give you the ability to wait out the process as it gets back underway. Focus on moving forward and working with your agent to get the ball rolling again. Realize that it is likely not going to happen overnight. Give it some time and trust your agent and their ability to spread the word! Hang in there, ultimately things will get moving in the right direction, but in a world where we expect everything now you might just need the realization that the new journey may be an opportunity for personal growth! Lastly, remember it only takes one showing (and one offer) to make everything better. Best of luck.

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

Have a question? Ask Dave!

Name *
Name

Will no bathtub in your master bathroom hurt resale value?

Elegant bathroom with long white vanity cabinet

Dave,

We are in the process of designing our new home and looking over many floor plans and we have noticed that many don’t have a bath tub in the master bathroom. We are now considering only putting a shower in our master bath, as neither of us are “tub” people and rarely, if ever, take baths. Our only hesitation is that this may cause problems down the road with resale and make our home harder to sell when that time comes. Any thoughts or insight would be very much appreciated. 

Dale and Kathy, Grand Junction


Dale and Kathy,

Great question! I often say that only 20% of the population are “tub” people, but those 20% are REALLY tub people and not having one in the master can be a significant hurdle. It is rare that not having a tub in the master bath is a show stopper, but it does happen on occasion. If you decide to eliminate the shower from the master bath, make sure you have a bath tub in one of the other bathrooms. This is your insurance policy and will likely make the impact much less significant for those weird tub people who have enough time to carve out of their lives to soak and relax! How dare they…

Really the tub is of significant importance to families that have young children. There are years that having a tub is really not an option, as showering toddlers is not overly enjoyable for either the parent or the toddler. Just make sure that you have at least 1 tub in the home to appease the hard core tub lovers. I remember when our kids were small and if we were in a position to only give them showers, our home would have been much less savory than it was!

Really the tub is of significant importance to families that have young children.

Here are a couple of parting shots concerning tubs. According to Nerdwallet.com a shower uses only 10-25 gallons of water where a bath uses upwards of 70. Showers are a conservationist’s friend and water conservation is only going to get more important. If you want to turn this around and make your shower a “selling feature” when the time comes, then consider making it LARGE with multiple heads! Spacious showers are in and people love having multiple shower heads. If you want to take it a bit further, turn your shower into a steam shower! Luxury showers are super popular and there are very few buyers who don’t consider them a high end feature and a true luxury. Another option is to take the space that would have been a tub and create a small sitting area! We have a small bathroom, ample but small, and I have long coveted a small sitting area in our bathroom. I would consider that to be a true luxury. To be honest some of the best time my wife and I have to talk is in the morning or evening while in the bathroom! Much of the time our lives are so busy that we don’t really have time to sit and talk where we are not distracted by televisions, cell phones, kids etc. and having a sitting area in the bathroom would be awesome! 

Bottom line, don’t sweat it as long as you leave at least one tub somewhere in the house and consider some of the other bathroom features to really turn your master bath into a selling benefit!! Best of luck!

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team 

Have a Question? Ask Dave!

Name *
Name