home selling advice

Are Skylights a Good Idea in Older Homes?

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Dear Dave,

I own an older home that doesn’t have very many windows. I have been throwing around the idea of putting in a skylight or solar tubes. I have heard of people having problems with these things leaking, but I have also heard stories where people didn’t have any problems with them. What is your experience with skylights and/or solar tubes? Would you recommend putting them in a house?

Thanks for the help-

Bob - Grand Junction, CO


Bob,

 

I love them!  I love Skylights and solar tubes.   A dark home is NOT a good thing and bringing in more natural light is always a good thing!  You can’t get too much natural light, especially if your home tends to come off dark.   Skylights and Solar Tubes are a wonderful way to brighten up any home with few lingering issues.

There is always a chance for leaking when you penetrate your roof with a hole and then attempt to seal it up, however if installed properly I think you will find few, if any, lingering problems.  The added benefits certainly outweigh the risks and introducing more natural light will not only add value to your home, but also increase your quality of life!  Trust me, it will be some of the best money you can spend on your home.  It is time for you to come into the light!

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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Are Pre-home Inspections a Good Idea on Older Homes?

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Dave,

We will soon be selling our home and looking to downsize.  We have lived here almost 15 years and are the second owners.  We have taken good care of our home and have kept up on routine maintenance and also fixed any items needed over the years.   Our home is older, built in 1976, but has been well taken care of.  We are considering a Pre-home inspection, as one of our friends intimated that it might be a good idea.  Your thoughts on pre home inspections?  Thanks.

Dwight, Grand Junction



Dwight,

 

On face value it sounds like you could go either way.   Your friend is right, it can be a really good thing and offer you, the buyer, and the real estate agents some peace of mind that the home is in good condition and free of any major problems.   The decision should be based on your knowledge of the home and how likely you believe it is that a problem may come up during the home inspection period. With any home built in the 70’s there is a reasonable chance that quite a few items will come up on the home inspection, not because you haven’t taken care of your home, but because it is old!   Generally I think it is a good idea, based on the age of your home, but it will set you back $300-$400.  This may be a very small sum in the long run, if it prevents a deal from falling apart.

One major thing that a pre home inspection will do is likely bring any “deal killers” to the surface before you get your home on the market and under contract.  If you do find a significant issue up front this will allow you to get it resolved prior to putting it on the market and getting it under contract.  There is no doubt in my mind that many things that happen during and related to the inspection period, after a home goes under contract, are blown way out of proportion and have as much to do with leverage, emotion, fear and lack of knowledge than the problems that are discovered and their remedies.  Once a For Sale sign goes up in your yard, regardless of what anyone says, everything changes and everything gets magnified, especially in a market where buyers can be difficult to find.

There are two things that I think are a great idea, regardless of the age of your home.    If you are currently on a septic system, I highly recommend you have your tank pumped and inspected prior to putting the home on the market as this serves not only as great preventive maintenance but will also put a stop to any potential septic issues before they generally get started.  Also, have a Licensed heating and air conditioning professional come and give your heating and cooling systems the once over and provide a receipt for a clean bill of health.  Septic systems and your homes mechanical systems (especially heating) are two items that many home inspectors single out and recommend buyers have those evaluated by Septic and HVAC professionals.  It is good preventive maintenance and eliminates the potential for a conflict of interest to have those things checked out ahead of time.   One more thing, if you have any question or doubts about your roof, have that inspected also.  Roof inspections are generally free and will bring any potential issues to light and notify you in advance if your roof is at the end of its expected life. 

I recommend a pre-home inspection if you have ANY concerns about a “deal killer” issue that may come to light.  If you have no concerns about that, then I would not do one.  If you do have concerns that there may be an issue there, some little nagging hunch, then I would pull the trigger on one and not even think twice about it.  You know your home better than anyone and if you think you need to have one done let me know and I will be happy to recommend a few that will do a great job!  A pre-home inspection is not for everyone, but maybe it should be….. I am finding myself rethinking the issue as I write this column.   Thanks for the thought-provoking question.

 

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team

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What Is The Best Way To Estimate The Value of Our Home?

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Dave,

We are thinking about selling our house, but we would first like to know how much our home is worth. We’ve seen a few websites—like Zillow and Truila, just to name a couple of them—that say they can estimate the value for us, but we aren’t sure if they are reliable. We know you’ve been doing this for quite a while and trust your advice. When you are selling a house how do you determine if these web sites are a reliable source for establishing the value of our home?

Tom, Grand Junction



Tom,

 

I love this question!   For the purpose of this answer we will focus on Zillow as it is by far the most used and relied upon real estate web site.  Zillow is, in my opinion, the best of all the real estate web sites at marketing to the public and to Real Estate agents.  It has established itself as the “go to” web site for helping the public not only keep track of local and national real estate trends and homes for sale, but has also been effective at instilling the perception that it can help you establish a value for your home.  The Zillow.com home valuation tool is called a “Zestimate”. 

I encourage you to go to Zillow.com and click on the FAQ, frequently asked questions, and scroll down to the “How accurate is the Zestimate?” and click to open.  What you will find is what very few know or ever venture to find out.  Here you will find out how good their marketing has been.  The marketing has been so good that the public has willingly flocked to a product that is almost wrong more often than right.  In the terms of statistical accuracy a “Zestimate” is virtually worthless.  What Zillow.com is admitting, in the fine print, is that their Zestimate is not overly accurate.  Actually, statistically speaking it is amazingly inaccurate!  There are too many variables, that don’t have to do with measurable and quantifiable characteristics, to allow a computer to provide an accurate statistical analysis on a home’s value.  Lets dive into some of the specifics!

When the Zillow website states that the Zestimate is accurate within 5, 10 or 20% keep in mind that can potentially mean a PLUS or MINUS percentage number!  In other words, IN COLORADO, if an “off market” (meaning the home is not currently for sale) home zestimate is $400,000 you can figure that value is correct within 10% ($360k - $440k…. an $80k spread) only 68.4% of the time… that means that 31.6% of the time they are even more inaccurate!  In Colorado the Zestimate gets it right to within (+ or - 5%) only 43% of the time!  This means that if you are on Zillow and your home is NOT on the market, the value provided by the Zestimate can not be considered accurate… its more of a poor guesstimate!  On the bright side…. If we look at the Zestimate numbers of “on market” homes the numbers are much more reliable. 

Zillow’s accuracy numbers in Colorado for “ON MARKET” homes (meaning a home that has been listed for sale by a real estate agent or for sale by owner) the accuracy increases significantly (90% are within +/- 5%) and are much more reliable.  Why such a dramatic increase in accuracy AFTER a home goes on the market?  This is because they have a local real estate agent establish a market number so the Zestimate can react accordingly.  In their own FAQ’s they site that after a home is listed that their algorithm incorporates new listing data to provide “valuable signals” about the homes eventual sales price!  I find this statement funny….. the new listing data or “valuable signal” is an accurate list price established by someone with local market knowledge!  

Overall, I would say that online valuation modulators are not a reliable source to establish a homes value.  At Zillow.com it goes on to say that a “Zestimate is a good starting point as well as a historical reference, but it should not be used for pricing a home.”  The very best way to establish your homes value is to have a local real estate professional (or two or three) out to view your home and help you establish a proper market value for your home based on neighborhood home sales and what those numbers indicate that a buyer is willing to pay for similar homes!  These quick computer tools are novel and potentially useful to gauge the overall market temperature, but that may be the limit of their usefulness at this juncture.  No doubt there will be many that work to improve the AI in an attempt to better hone property values, but that day has yet to arrive. 

Hope that helps,

Dave Kimbrough

The Kimbrough Team


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We've had dozens of showings, but our home just won't sell...please help!

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Dave,

We’ve had our house on the market for several years - with four different realtors. We’ve raised the price; we’ve lowered the price. According to our current Realtor, it is priced right. Comps are difficult because our house is unusual; most people seem to want a cookie cutter house. We’ve followed all the usual recommendations - cleared clutter, reduced furniture, painted, opened windows, turned on lights, have great photos and hired a stager. We’ve had dozens of showings and three main complaints: it’s a wood frame house, it has too many stairs (it’s 3 stories, 4100 sq. ft.), and it’s a reverse layout (millennials do not want children on a different level than parents). None of these can be changed without a major remodel. Our house is old (40 years - with us as original owners) and needs updating, but it is carefully maintained. I would appreciate any suggestions. If we lower the price anymore, we will be giving it away.

Lynn, Location Withheld


Lynn,

Where to start? Your dilemma is one I have seen more times that I would care to admit and unfortunately it is somewhat likely you will not appreciate my solution to your situation. Although your current Realtor thinks your home is priced right, I will also assume that the previous three agents thought it was priced right and were apparently wrong since it still has not sold! One thing about your situation that is a little different is that typically in our market if a home is not priced correctly the market will eventually catch it. What I mean is that the market has been appreciating steadily and that over time it will eventually catch even the most overpriced homes…unless the pricing is just totally unrealistic. As I provide information to help you evaluate your situation keep in mind that when selling a home you can only control three things: how well your property is marketed, how well it is priced and the overall property condition. That’s right, when you boil down all the extraneous things people want to make selling a home about, these are the three primary things you can ultimately control, or have influence over, that will positively or negatively impact your ability to sell. 

Covered front porch of theold craftsman style home.

It sounds as though from a condition standpoint you have gone to great lengths (clearing clutter, reducing furniture, painting and hiring a stager) to ensure your property is in great condition and is well prepared for showings. I am also going to read between the lines that since you have had “dozens” of showings that your Realtor(s) have marketed it sufficiently enough and your photos are good enough for buyers to find it and choose to come take a look. Ultimately a market stat that I have heard and used over the years is “for every 13 showings you should have an offer." I realize that that number may be 9 showings for some houses and 16 showings for others, but ultimately if you have had “dozens” of showings and no offers, you likely have a pricing problem.

To be totally honest, unique and dated can be a lethal combo. You narrow your buyer pool by having a home that has a “unique” layout and one that is in need of a cash infusion. The complaint about kids being on a different level is a very real issue for families with young kids (under 10). If a family has 3 teenagers then they are much more open to having them on a different level, but young kids and stairs everywhere is just not desirable, regardless of the generation. Let's also put into perspective the idea of updating a 4100 square foot house. The bigger the house, the more expensive it is to update. Updating a 4100 square foot home is much more expensive than updating a 2500 square foot house and to a younger family (and that is who buys large homes with multiple levels) the cost can be very intimidating and keep them from pulling the trigger. In order to “lure” them to buy, there has to be some significant monetary upside to putting in the work and money to bring it up to current tastes.  

I believe your answer is relatively simple if your willing to hear it. You can keep the price where it is and eventually the market will catch you and you will find just the right butt the saddle or you can lower your price to make it more appealing to your target buyer.

I believe your answer is relatively simple if your willing to hear it. You can keep the price where it is and eventually the market will catch you and you will find just the right butt the saddle or you can lower your price to make it more appealing to your target buyer. To really solve the puzzle you must also find out what the buyers are buying instead of your home. Knowing what they are buying will tell you a lot about where you stand in relation to your competition and what you need to do to become more competitive. Remember, it is a competition and your perception of “giving it away” is clearly not the perception of the buyer pool thus far or your home would already be sold. Several years on the market, in this market, is too long. Stop and listen to what the market is telling you! Don’t hold it against me, I warned you that you might not like my answer! Make some adjustments to get more competitive and view your home through the eyes of your buyers and I bet your results will change.   

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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3 Golden Tips for Home Buyers and Sellers

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Dave,

I know you have a ton of experience in real estate and you give great advice in this column every week! So I’m just curious: If you could only give one piece of advice to someone who is about to start the home buying process, what would it be? And on the flip side if you could only give one piece of advice to a home seller what would it be?

Thanks in advance for helping me sound smart the next time my friends and I talk real estate!

John, Grand Junction


John,

Thanks for the compliment, at least one of us can seem smart when hanging with our peeps! That is a very interesting question and one that takes some thought! I am sure that if you ask me this question in six months at least one of these will change! I am not sure I can keep it to just one thing for each, but I will try. As my friends will tell you, I am pretty verbose. As my mom used to say, he rattles like an empty wagon! With that being said, let’s tackle the buyer advice first.

For the answers here I turned to our two most experienced buyers’ agents, Jan Kimbrough Miller and Cyrie Wortmann. They both work extensively with buyers and know the buying process better than anyone I know. Remember, every agent will have varying answers, but these two are awesome! 

Make sure you have no weak links in your team of lender and agent...one without the other is no good.
— Jan Kimbrough Miller, Buyer Specialist

Jan’s one thing was, “make sure you have no weak links in your team of lender and agent...one without the other is no good.” Let me tell you, this is awesome advice! If you have the best lender and are ready to purchase, but have a half devoted agent, you will likely miss the perfect house. On the flip side, if you have the most aggressive agent who is Johnny on the spot, but your lender stinks and you fail the loan process then you will also miss out on the perfect house. The quality combination of your lender and agent are your key to success.

Remember there will always be compromises. Avoid the trap of overthinking or paralysis by analysis and learn to trust your gut!
— Cyrie Wortmann, Buyer Specialist

Cyrie has more experience than anyone on our team and her advice is equally important! “Remember there will always be compromises. Avoid the trap of overthinking or paralysis by analysis and learn to trust your gut!” Again, this is timely and sage advice. As our market becomes more and more competitive being hesitant can be the difference between getting your dream home or letting someone else get it! God gave you a gut feeling, trust it and go with it! Both of these are awesome!  

Clean means more money and less time on market.
— Dave Kimbrough, Listing Specialist
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Ok, moving on to sellers...Since I am a listing agent, I did not solicit anyone’s advice on this answer and I will avoid the temptation of jumping on the low hanging fruit of making sure you choose the right agent! That one is too easy! My number one piece of advice would be that “clean means more money and less time on market”. Who doesn’t want more money and who doesn’t’ want to sell fast? Duh! Make sure to have your home completely dialed in and show ready. A clean house makes a wonderful first impression and the first impression is the most important. When you are dialing things in, make sure not to forget about the outside. Listen, if the inside sparkles but the outside is ugly or neglected, forget about it. Buyers will pass you by. Make sure you have the full package of inside and out ready to go! Next, remember that 92% of buyers start their search online and their first impression of your home will almost always be from your electronic footprint. If your home’s photos (both drone and still), virtual tour, website penetration, Facebook and Instagram presence are not top notch, it will cost you showings and limit your ability to sell. I see it all the time, bad photos and a lame virtual tour… there is no excuse in today’s day and age. If your home has a bad/subpar electronic footprint then you are entering a street fight with a patch over one eye and one arm tied behind your back. There really is no excuse for a poorly executed electronic presence, but you would be amazed at how bad some are. Your homes electronic footprint has to be spot on! 

Hope these help and although there are many more super important tips, these will ensure that you get off to a great start when buying or selling and also make sure you seem super smart and keen to your friends! Lastly, it is Fathers Day! Time to thank dear old dad for all he has done over the years. Remember, its hard work being a dad and none of us came with an instruction manual. Stop long enough to say “I love you” and “thanks for being my dad” and I bet by doing so it might make the day for both of you! 

Dave Kimbrough
The Kimbrough Team

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