Whether you Rent or Buy, You’re Paying a Mortgage

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

There are some people that have not purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

Paying a Mortgage

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home and start paying a mortgage that you own! Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were 3.43% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

If your real estate search brings you to Colorado, contact Shawn Manwaring and he will be delighted to assist you!


Categories: Buying Property

The Cost of Appraisals

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

You’re under contract, have completed inspection, objection, and resolution. Your loan is very close to being funded, all that’s left is the appraisal. Just as every other inspection has a price, the appraisal also has some costs associated with it. So what is the cost of appraisals and can you shop around?

Home Appraisals: Some Are Easier Than Others

]The cost for home appraisals today varies a bit by geographic region, but it has always varied too by the complexity of the assignment. It takes a lot more time to appraise a custom home in the mountains, for instance, than to appraise a tract home in the city.

Of course, this makes perfect sense. It would be very easy to compare a house in a subdivision to another house the exact same size and floor plan, with extremely similar finishes, conveniently located directly across the street. Conversely, it would be much harder to try to figure out the value of a home if there wasn’t another home like it anywhere.

The appraisal tells your lender how much the home is worth. The appraiser uses recently sold homes in the immediate area and compares them to the home you are buying in order to come up with a value. If there aren’t any recently sold homes like yours, any recently sold in your area, or both, their job is infinitely more difficult. Some areas of difficulty that are more time consuming for your appraiser may affect the home appraisal cost.

An appraisal seems like an easy place to game the system. Simply hire someone you know already and make sure the appraisal comes in where you need it to.  Before the current regulations went into effect, this is exactly what people did.

The Cost of Appraisals

The Cost of Appraisals

The NEW Rules for Home Appraisals

In 2008 new regulations put a firewall between mortgage originators (loan officers/any production folks) and the appraisers to make it impossible for stakeholders to influence the appraisal.

Today we have to order the appraisal through an online portal via the lender’s website. (Mortgage companies and banks do the same, so it isn’t any different. The originator cannot choose or have any contact with the appraiser.)

The lender engages an independent Appraisal Management Company (AMC), which maintains a panel of independent appraisers throughout the country. An appraiser may belong to several, if not dozens, of AMC panels. The loan officer is not even allowed to talk to the appraiser, much less influence them in any way.

There are several implications to this organization: The customer may not shop for the appraiser. The appraiser is selected independently and only through this system.

There is no cost difference between refinancing and purchase transactions, although, as noted above, there could be differences for complexity or scope. For instance, if you are buying a rental property, the appraiser will be asked to complete a rental survey in addition to the appraisal — obviously, the home appraisal cost will be higher.

Not Everyone Likes the New Regulations

In the past, I’ve recommended that sellers give a cheat sheet of sorts to the appraiser when they get there, including measurements of their home and a list of improvements along with information about the neighborhood, explaining any homes that sold recently for a less-than-market price for reasons not readily apparent. On my street, I know of three houses that sold last year for significantly less than they should have for reasons that would not be known to someone who wasn’t in tune with the latest neighborhood news.

Hampson says, “I do meet the appraiser when it’s my listing and always bring comparable’s. Sometimes they appreciate it.” I would always recommend doing this. If they don’t look at the comparable’s you bring, you haven’t really lost out on much. But if they do take them into consideration, you can control the process a bit more.

Unique Isn’t Always a Good Thing in Real Estate

Every single piece of property is 100 percent unique — there will never be two properties that are exactly alike. However, the more unique your property is, the more difficult it will be to value, and the higher the chances are that your appraisal will come in low.

The cost of appraisals will run between $350 and $600 for a home that is easier to appraise — and could run much higher for a unique property. Shopping around for the best price isn’t really an option, so focus on making your home look its best, and ask your agent for a list of favorable comparable’s to share with the appraiser.

Here is another resource from our friends at Realtor.com regarding appraisals: Appraisal Info

When you are in the real estate market and searching for a Colorado realtor, I would love the chance to work with you!


Tips on How to Prepare for your Final Walkthrough

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

You have found your new home and you are so excited to move in that you cannot wait to complete the final steps before closing! While you daydream about arranging your furniture and putting your dishes into the cabinets, make sure you are giving proper attention to the very important final walkthrough of your new palace. Preparing for your Final Walkthrough is a crucial step before closing.  This should take place after the home inspection and 2-7 days before closing. Prepare yourself by getting plenty of sleep for mental clarity, bringing a support system to help out, and packing a few small tools to aid in your walkthrough. Being very careful to check every detail will ensure you have a happy homecoming when the keys are finally yours.

Final Walkthrough Tips

Preparing for your Final Walkthrough

Are you Ready for your Final Walkthrough?

When preparing for your final walkthrough, make sure you check every appliance, window, door and electrical outlet. Check all faucets and flush all toilets. Open every cabinet. Bring someone with you and task him or her with checking a particular area or category.  Though your inspection has already occurred, there could be problems that may have come up since. You may find that a faucet that worked during inspection is no longer working after the seller removed a water filter improperly. It could happen that a roof leak has caused water damage that was not visible before. You can use a phone and charger or outlet tester to check every outlet in the house. Take a notebook with you and write the name of each room on each page to record any issues.

Are there any items that the seller agreed to leave behind such as light fixtures, shelving or outdoor structures? Be thorough in checking that these items are in place and intact. A specific area that always gets overlooked is landscaping. Walk the yard while referencing photos from your previous visit to ensure that no trees or shrubbery or built-in patio items were removed if the agreement was for them to stay. Use your notebook and camera or phone to document any issues. Be very specific.

After the seller’s belongings have been removed, check all storage areas and nooks for items left behind. You do not want to be responsible for throwing out a box of old paint left in the garage or heavy crates full of magazines shoved in an attic corner. You also do not want to have to communicate with the seller or have them come by to retrieve items while you are trying to make the home your own. Check walls again to make sure no damage occurred while moving out. It is not uncommon for television sets to leave gaping holes in walls or for a sofa to take out a chunk of a doorframe on its way out. Make sure any potential issues are properly repaired, and not just patched up to provide temporary visual appeal.

It is very important that you schedule your final walkthrough with plenty of advance time for repairs to take place. Remember, you may need to schedule an additional walkthrough to double check that all loose ends are tied. Giving yourself an extra week is often easier than rescheduling a closing due to a dispute. Your home is your investment and making reasonable requests for repairs or changes is part of the real estate process. Do not let your eagerness to settle in cause you to settle for less.

If you are searching for a homebuyer’s guide, I have also completed that for you.

Categories: Buying Property

Pros & Cons to Buying a New Construction Home

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

Pros & Cons to Buying a New Construction Home

Should you buy a brand new home or an existing home? While there is no definitive right answer, only the buyer can determine what kind of home they should invest in. A home is most likely going to be your largest monetary investment. While there are various pros and cons to buying new homes as well as existing homes, in this article, we will uncover Pros & Cons to Buying a New Construction Home.

Buying a new home is different from buying a pre-existing home. Besides the obvious distinctions, such as upgrades in design and appliances, an important factor to keep in mind is who you will be purchasing from. Buying a new home will take place directly from a builder, whose sole purpose for building is to profit. Where-as the sale of an existing home will be less likely be motivated by profit and more so motivated by factors such as downsizing, needing more space, job relocation, etc.  Please see below for a full list of Pros & Cons to Buying a New Construction Home.

Pros For Buying A New Construction Home

Customization & Personal Touch

One of the biggest advantages of buying a newly constructed home will be the ability to customize your home and add a personal touch. The day you are ready to move in, your newly built home will already have your wants and preferences. Where-as for a home that is not brand new and has existed for years, the colors, fixtures and design will be according to the previous owner.

Being able to customize your dream home will allow you to add extras that you may have not otherwise been able to. For example, adding a garden tub to an existing home can be a difficult and expensive task. Being able to choose how you want your new home to look is an obvious advantage of buying a newly built home.

No Work For You

Another perk of investing in a new construction home is that the work is done for you. While your dream home is being personalized, you won’t have to lift a finger and do any of the manual labor yourself.  As long as the Home Builder is still in the process of constructing the home, you should be able to add your personal touches, without doing the work yourself. To name a few, this work would otherwise include painting, installing the flooring and cabinets.

Walking into an older home that has your likes and dislikes, may be highly unlikely.  After buying this pre-existing home, you may have to do upgrades such as fresh paint, new flooring and cabinets, either yourself or with the help of a contractor.

New Home Smell

Just like when you walk into a brand new car, and it has that distinct “new car smell”, new homes also have this. The new home smell is created by the brand new appliances, flooring and fixtures. Since nothing has been previously used, it has that unique new smell.

If you don’t believe us, walk into any home that is currently being built and compare it to the smell of a home with residents still living there. The two will have distinct differences in odor.

Energy Efficient Homes

Since you are purchasing a new home, it will be built with the newest materials that are more energy efficient. Companies that produce building materials and appliances are creating products that focus on energy efficiency. Implementation of newer technologies such as better HVAC systems, energy efficient windows, and Energy Star appliances may result in lower utility bills. Some builders go as far as to add solar panels to roofs to further lower utility bills.

Less Hazards

Newly constructed homes will have less hazards than existing homes. Depending on the age of the existing home, it may have structural integrity issues, lead paint, or mold. Newly built homes on the other hand, will be free of such hazards. Prior to gaining full ownership of either a new or older home, an inspection will find these hazards. With structural and engineering technological advances, newly structured homes are less likely to have hazards.

Improved Technology

Some of the biggest selling points of a new home are the technologies used. Newer built homes and condos often come equipped with the latest technology such as solar panels, security systems and sound systems. Some newer homes come with the label “connected home” where several features of the home, such as temperature and security are completely integrated into tablets and phones via applications.

Some of the subtle differences in a newer home will be wiring and cables already built in. This means less work and holes in walls to create for you. Such recent technologies may not be compatible with the structure of existing homes.

Newer Designs

Newer homes come with the latest designs. If you ever watching any home remodeling or design programs on tv, you know that modern architects design new homes with the goal of maximizing space and having an open floor plan. Modern floor plans offer large family rooms to entertain guests that open up to the kitchen and eating areas. Older homes on the other hand were built with compartmentalized living areas. Whereas newer designs maximize space, by avoiding walls that close rooms, older homes were designed more for privacy.

No Repairs 

Another benefit of buying a new home is that it won’t need any repairs. Since everything from the appliances, structure, and fixtures are brand new, they should be repair free. This also means that maintenance costs for the first few years will be low. You shouldn’t expect any large expenses for awhile.

With an older home on the other hand, appliances and the home have experienced some wear and tear. No matter how well kept everything was, all objects have a life expectancy. Whereas in a new home you shouldn’t expect to pay for any large unexpected items in the near future, we cannot say that with ease for an older home.

Home Warranty 

Many builders also provide a warranty for the newly built home. Depending on your builder, they may offer one or ten year warranties. So in case something does break down or there are problems, the warranty will more than likely cover damages.

Cons For Buying A New Construction Home


High Upfront Cost 

One of the cons of buying a brand new home is the cost. A brand new home can cost up to 20% more than a similar home that has existed for years. Comparable properties in the area that feature the same amount of bedrooms, bathrooms and square feet but were built years ago will be much cheaper. Upgraded features offered in brand new homes are sometimes marked up heavily by builders to increase their profits. Not only are features marked up, but builders are building for the sole purpose of earning a profit. This has to be kept in consideration at all times.

No Landscaping or Grass 

A home that has been under construction for several months may lack developed landscaping. Heavy machinery and workers walking around the project often destroys any grass or landscaping previously there. After the project is complete, it takes several months for grass to grow and for the dirt to dissipate. The owner may be required to maintain upkeep of the grass and landscape afterwards to ensure growth.

Time To Build

One of the biggest disadvantages of a newly constructed home is the amount of time it takes to build the home. Depending on the size of the project, it can take several months to finish. On the other hand, moving into an older home that has residents, usually takes 45 days. If you are selling your current home, in order to use that money to buy a new home, the time to build should be considered. Some clients choose to rent until the construction is complete. This may not be the case if the construction project is already finished.

Unexpected Costs

Unexpected costs such as certain upgrades and customization may come at a cost. For instance, if you have a preference for different appliances or flooring, than those planned by the builder, there may be a price tag associated with the change. A long list of changes can add up in costs and is something to certainly to consider.

On the other hand, if you are satisfied with selection for flooring, appliances and finishes, there will be no additional unexpected costs.

Possible Future Construction

If there is a new home under construction in the neighborhood, there is good chance there will be future construction in the area. In that case, it can take many months or years for the construction or the development to conclude. This may mean heavy construction equipment in your area, as well as noise and general debris from construction. Construction of the surrounding areas is something to consider.

Some buyers do not mind the possibility of future construction in the neighborhood. If other houses are knocked down and replaced with brand new, bigger homes, buyers are at ease with their purchase. From their perspective, this an increase in demand for the surrounding property, reassures them that this is a quality neighborhood.

Less Desirable Neighborhood 

Depending on where the new home is being built, you may not find the neat and clean tree-lined neighborhood you had hoped for. Land is scarce. If the home is being built in a brand new development, it may take several months for the development to become well-established.

 Builders often find undeveloped lands in less desirable locations. Because land is scarce and cheaper land is further away from major cities, you will often see homes priced accordingly. This may mean further away from city centers. This is something to consider if you work in city centers, where your commute may be longer.

Lack of Customization

While there are opportunities to customize a brand new home that is being built, you may not be able to customize or upgrade an already complete project. This is a tough pill to swallow for buyers who take pride in doing a lot of the customization themselves. For buyers interested in being more hands on, and tailoring their home accordingly, an already complete brand new home may not be a good fit.

Small Yards

As previously mentioned, land is scarce. Builders are sometimes forced to build bigger, new homes on smaller lots. If you are looking for a new home over 3200 square feet, with a big back yard and ample space between your neighbors, it may be tough to find. Because land is scarce, builders often implement strategies to maximize the amount of land, by building as big of a home as possible. This may mean decreased space between neighbors and limited outdoor space.

Less Room for Negotiation

 Since builders are making these homes for a profit, there is very little room for negotiation. Builders know that if they accept a lower offer for a home, this may affect the amount they receive for future projects in the area. While some builders may work with you on giving you some upgrades, don’t expect to come away with a steal.


Should you buy a new home or an existing home? This is something only you as the buyer can answer. While there are pros and cons to owning both a new home or an existing home, you have to sit down and figure out what is best for your needs.

The best thing you can do to begin your journey is to find a real estate agent who is knowledgeable on the intricacies of buying a brand new home. You want to find an agent who can explain to you the pros and cons of buying a brand new home in the neighborhood you are looking for.


Tags: Real Estate
Categories: Buying Property

Not All Real Estate Agents Are Created Equal

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

Real estate is stressful. Between setting up your home for showings, trying to figure out where you’re going to make compromises, and making a gigantic life change, you’re overwhelmed. When selecting an agent it’s important to recognize not all real estate agents are created equal.

Whether you’re buying or selling your home, you want a real estate agent you trust. You want someone who understands the market and is experienced at negotiating. You want a partner who can reduce your stress.

There’s tons of conflicting information about the types of real estate agents out there. How do you pick one? Should you go with a real estate broker, a Realtor®, or a real estate agent? What are a real estate agency’s responsibilities?

What’s the difference?

Real estate agent vs. real estate broker

Most states differentiate between two types of professionals– agent and broker. A real estate broker runs a real estate agency and must pass an exam and be licensed to be a broker, while a real estate agent must pass an exam and be licensed to sell property.

The real estate broker is the leading person in a real estate firm. They man the whole operation. They’ve taken coursework to ensure they can manage a real estate firm. This person takes responsibility for all of the real estate agents she employs. Brokers must have a particular license, and some licensed brokers choose to work in someone else’s firm. In this case, they’re usually called an associate broker.

The real estate agent has met their state’s requirements for getting a license to sell property. An agent usually works under a broker, and are sometimes called subagents, real estate salespeople, or sales agents. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 151,700 employed real estate sales agents in the United States in 2015.

When it comes to buying or selling a home, you’ll probably work with a real estate agent who works for a real estate agency led by a broker. The real estate agent is the person you’ll work with most directly. They’ll be on call to help you through any questions.  This hopefully helps to show how not all real estate agents are created equal.

But what’s a Realtor®, and do I need one?

A Realtor® is a real estate agent who is part of the National Association of Realtors, which has a certain standard of ethics and moral codes to follow. These rules have a reputation for being strict. Many real estate agents and brokers are Realtors®, and they’ll proudly display this information on their business cards.

Realtors® have access to inventory that real estate agents don’t, particularly through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which gives them greater access to homes on the market. If you work with a Realtor®, you’ll have access to more homes.  Just like not all real estate agents are created equal, the same goes for Realtors®.

Other types of real estate agents and terms to know

Seller’s agent or Listing agent

When you sell your home, you’ll need to find a sellers agent.

The seller’s agent is the real estate professional who represents the person selling the property. This person will act as the manager of your house sale. Think of them like the project manager. They talk fast, act fast, and get stuff done.

The seller’s agent will work with the buyer’s agent to come to a final price for the property. Get the property sold and you enter into a brokerage agreement with your agent and their firm. This agreement ensures they will represent your interests as a seller.

Buyer’s agent

When you’re buying a home, you want a buyer’s agent to help you out.

Consider the buyer’s agent your first mate, willing to do the heavy lifting, negotiate on your behalf, and rally the crew to find the perfect house.

Real estate agents are often both buyer’s and seller’s agents. The only real difference between the two is that buyer’s agents work for the house hunter. They’ll typically take you around town, show off houses they think you’ll like, and manage the process from negotiating the offer to closing the deal.

Designated agency

A designated agency began because of conflicts of interest with dual agencies. A designated agency is when a real estate firm has a designated individual agent to represent only the interests of the seller, and another designated agent to represent the interests of the buyer. This gives both the buyer and the seller more personalized representation.

Dual agency

A dual agency is when a buyer is represented by the same firm that has the listing. It’s also called a dual agency when the same real estate agent represents both the buyer and the seller.

Imagine playing a game of blackjack as both the dealer and a player. There are a handful of potential benefits of using a dual agent as a seller but its not a recommended best practice.

Potential Benefits of Using a Dual Agent:

  • Streamline the transaction. After all, negotiating with yourself is so much easier.
  • The agent might have more information about the property than an agent working strictly from the buyer’s side.
  • Dual agents will occasionally take a reduced commission since they’re working both sides.
  • Buyer’s tend to have more purchasing power because the agent knows everything about the seller.
  •  Communication between buyer and seller gets a little easier since there’s only one primary point of contact.

Minor benefits aside, some states have tried to outlaw the practice by citing a conflict of interest. Unfortunately, every state in the US leaves some sort of opening for real estate agents to “double dip.” The good news is that where the practice is legal, most states require the real estate agent to disclose the conflict of interest.

Here’s where the issue gets a little murky. The right real estate agent can get you in or out of a home smoothly. A bad one can bring on substantial headaches that cost you time and money.How to Work with Any Type of Real Estate Agent

Here’s how to ensure you get the best results, regardless of the type of real estate agent you’re working with:

Be clear about what you want

Even the best real estate agents depend on their clients to be honest and upfront about their needs. If you disagree with a real estate agent’s opinion, it’s important that you voice your position. Explaining your stance is essential– whether you’re buying or selling.  Remember not all real estate agents are created equal and therefore most will listen to your needs.

Consider client reviews but don’t rely on them

While sales data is arguably the most objective way to compare real estate agents, its not necessarily the end all be all. Ask each agent for a few references from a few of their previous contacts, read up on a decent sample set of online reviews posted on their various agent profiles, and do everything you can to make sure their a good personality fit.  To see Shawn’s reviews, Click Here.

Stay local

You want to work with a real estate agent who has significant experience in your neighborhood. If you’re selling, your agent will have up to date data on how hot the market is. If you’re buying, your agent will help you make decent offers. No matter what, choose a real estate agent with experience where you are.

Choose the right type of real estate agent

Some real estate agents may claim that they specialize in both buying and selling. But the best really stick to one lane or the other. Again this speaks to the fact that not all real estate agents are created equal.

The bottom line is that you can’t just pick any old Seller’s or Buyer’s agent out of the phone book. There are tangible differences between one type of real estate agent and another. Don’t leave one of the biggest financial decisions of your life to the first agent that comes along.

Carefully consider the pros and cons of using an agent who specializes in sales, purchases, or both, weigh they’ve done historically in your area and how they’ve worked with other clients in the past. Then, after all of that research, go with someone you’re comfortable working with for at least a month.

If shopping the Colorado real estate market, give Shawn Manwaring a call at Roaring Fork Sotheby’s in Glenwood Springs. 


How Long Does It Take Buyers With Student Loans to Afford a Home?

Posted on September 26, 2018 by shawn_manwaring

With the exception of successful college dropouts like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga most college graduates rake in more money over a lifetime than those who never finish their degrees. But those pieces of paper can come at a steep price: the dream of buying a home in the near future.

Graduates of four-year colleges who took out student loans are estimated to spend more than a decade saving up for a 20% down payment on their very own home, according to a recent report.

That’s nearly double the 5.3 years it is expected to take those lucky grads who didn’t have to take out loans to fund their education, according to an apartment list report. The reason? The debt-free grads can save more, to the tune of an average $350 a month, than those paying off those odious loans. They’re also more likely to have family and friends who can chip in for the costs of buying a home.

The rental website analyzed survey responses from more than 30,000 renters aged 18 to 34. The report factors in the financial assistance buyers will receive from friends and family to pay for a $200,000 home.

But it did not take into account the various no- or low-down-payment options available for U.S. military personnel (current and retired) and first-time and other eligible buyers. (First-time buyers often score 3.5% down mortgages through the Federal Housing Administration.)

Renters who earmark a chunk of their paychecks to pay down their student loans took almost double the time, 10.2 years, to muster up a 20% nest egg for the home of their dreams. The culprit: They save an average of only $230 a month.

“At least part of this is by choice,” says Apartment List data scientist Andrew Woo. “College-educated millennials with student loans could be saving more, but in many cases are choosing not to do so. They spend more on rent. They spend more on other expenses, which include travel, dining out, and shopping.”

More than half of college-educated millennials surveyed had student debt that resulted in a $410 average monthly bill. But before throwing them a pity party, keep in mind that they also earn about $22,600 more annually than those who don’t have those degrees gracing their resumes.

Renters without four-degrees are estimated to spend 15.4 years (!!) saving up for that 20% down payment.

The first hurdle for these higher education dropouts? They’re socking away an average of only $160 a month for arguably the biggest purchase of their lives. The second? They tend to receive less financial help from family and friends.

This makes buying in most major cities across the country next to impossible for many of these college dropouts, according to the report. They’re relegated to cities where it will take them less time to come up with a down payment, like Atlanta; Philadelphia; Kansas City, MO; and Detroit.

“Graduates without debt can pretty much afford to live anywhere,” Woo says. “Graduates with student loans can afford to live in most places except the West Coast and cities in the Northeast like New York, Boston, and Washington, DC.”

Categories: Buying Property
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