This week we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. and the massive and positive impact Dr. King made on 20th Century America. His most iconic “I have a dream” speech still resonates 57 years later.
So many Americans have a dream for equity, equality and inclusion. That extends to the dream of homeownership. A dream realized for many, but not always equitably. A dream we in real estate are privileged to help with.
At Kentwood Real Estate we formed a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council in 2020 to address both internal and external issues facing our company and our industry. Thank you to the volunteers on our Council and the wonderful input they provided last year. All of them offered to renew their commitment to volunteer this year and we now have a waiting list!
Our goal is to make a real and positive difference in people’s lives. To that end, we’ve translated our Listing and Buyer information into Spanish and discussed what the next language should be. Vietnamese perhaps.
We’re in the process of forming a Kentwood Foundation to help our communities – our Kentwood Community and the communities we live in. More on that to follow.
We’re encouraging our managers to recruit for diversity and we’re welcoming many new brokers from all sorts of life experiences and backgrounds to the Kentwood family.
A Pledge to Do Right
Kentwood “took the pledge” and is among hundreds of companies joined as Colorado Companies United Against Racism. But taking a pledge isn’t an end, it’s a signal that we intend to be a part of the process and solution going forward. Our industry has historically not been purveyors of best practices. We’re grappling with that and determined to make a positive difference going forward.
Let Dr. King’s words guide us. “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
You’ve heard it, the loud sucking sound of the real estate market in the U.S., Colorado, Denver, and Fort Collins drying up. We’ve been facing this inventory crisis for several years, and it’s only getting worse.
Months of supply of inventory in the 11 county Denver metro area market is .3 of a month. Approximately 1/3 of a month. We ended 2020 with 2,541 available homes in the MLS. That’s just over two thousand homes for a metro area of 2.8 million inhabitants.
How Home Buyers Should Prepare
At Kentwood Real Estate, our brokers are top-tier professionals who are ready and able to help their clients put their best foot forward. Our Prosperity Home Mortgage team of lenders is also well versed in what it takes to secure a home during a competitive bidding process.
What, Why and How?
In December 50.1% of homes sold over list price and 20.5 % sold at list price. That’s 70.6% of homes selling at or over list. We had approximately 5 median days on market in December. 60% of homes are under contract in under 7 days. And that’s “the what.”
Our Fort Collins market is facing the same issue. The Fort Collins Board of Realtors recently said, “Low inventory and multiple offers on in-demand properties and market segments are likely to remain common while the market waits and hopes for a boost in new construction and a surge in home sellers to help provide more balance to the market.” (Note to sellers, if you aren’t under contract in a couple of weeks, see a decent amount of traffic or have a series of second showings, you likely started out pricing your home too aggressively. Remember that you’ll lose perceived value as time in MLS goes by.)
“Why” is a combination of reasons. Some homeowners are deciding to stay put and do a little fix-up rather than move. They feel during COVID it’s risky to enter the housing market fray. They’ve been fearing for several years that they won’t successfully find a replacement property. Builders aren’t able to keep up with demand. They can’t build them fast enough.
The resale housing conundrum is keeping potential sellers out of the market and it’s become a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy. Nothing on the market to look at, no reason to put my house on the market.
The “How” revolves around the season. I recently heard an expert I respect say, “We’re in multiple offer season.” For 5 years, it’s felt like it’s always multiple offer season, but there’s a case to be made that between January and March it’s heightened. We’re waiting for those homeowners who do intend to sell this year to get their property on the market. This means buyers will need every tool in their arsenal, without waiving all of the rights they’re entitled to under the contract.
Hang in there, home buyers! With strong guidance and representation, you will land a house. It may not be the first or even the second offer you make, but you will prevail. Then we can say to you – Welcome Home!
You may be in your first home or your move-up home, you may have been rooted in your home for many years, or you may be someone who moves a lot and loves the experience and excitement of finding that next just-right place. 2021 is predicted to be another year of record home sales and movement into and out of our homes. Are you planning to jump in?
Many people found their housing needs changed in 2020. They realized their current home didn’t mesh with their current lifestyle. If you’re working remotely, helping your children with online learning, exercising in your basement (me,) or simply spending more of your time in your own four walls, you may be realizing that your current place isn’t what you envisioned when you made the purchase.
It’s a great time to reimagine where you’ll land next. Mortgage rates remain historically low and new construction is helping keep up with demand, even if resales have been slow to come on the market. We expect more homeowners to dip into the market this spring, but multiple bids in some segments will likely continue even with a rise in inventory.
According to CoreLogic’s Home Price Insights, national prices appreciated 7.3% year-over-year in 2020. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also reported that inventory dropped 22% from 2019 to 2020.
This is a reflection of supply and demand at work. As inventory decreases and demand increases, prices are driven up.
If you own a home that isn’t JUST RIGHT and you’re thinking about selling, now may be the time. You’ve probably seen a good amount of equity accumulate in your home as prices have increased. Kentwood Real Estate brokers have a large number of buyers looking for their Colorado dream home. Let us help you sell and find that next perfect place to call home.
If you think your current home no longer serves your lifestyle, then connect with a Kentwood broker to discuss local market conditions and determine if now is the best time for you to sell!
2020. A year that hit the pause button on many things in our lives and a year that gave us a reset we did not know we needed. For many people, it was one of the toughest years ever, but it’s also provided an opportunity to evaluate the things that are most important.
Virtual Meetings and Open House Tours
It’s been a year of working from home, distance learning, social distancing, flattening the curve, masks, visiting loved ones through windows, quarantining, travel bans, lockdowns, riots, protests and curfews, grocery shopping online, curbside pickup, meetings on Teams, Zoom and Go to Meeting and virtual open houses.
We’ve had no concerts or church or big family gatherings, and found new ways of celebrating birthdays, weddings, holidays, and even funerals. I attended a concert, a wedding and a memorial on Zoom this year. We have suffered losses – loss of time, connection and some have lost loved ones. 2020 will be a year that goes down as a historically meaningful year, one that has changed our world.
Kicking off 2021
How do we end 2020 on a positive note and start 2021 with a new and fresh perspective? At Kentwood Real Estate, Kentwood Commercial, Kentwood Relocation, Denver Rental, and Prosperity Home Mortgage we’re taking time to celebrate with those closest to us. It’s a testament to our teams’ resilience, creativity, and professionalism that we’re thriving in difficult times. Our clients have been loyal and dogged and clear-eyed on where they need to go to stay on the path of their life journey.
We’re planning to rest and reset both personally and professionally and begin 2021 with an attitude of greatness. Thank you all who have supported our team this year. Happiest of holidays to everyone and cheers to 2021!
Written by Gretchen Rosenberg, Kentwood Real Estate President and CEO
In a recent sales meeting, we discussed the astonishingly low inventory in Colorado and particularly in our company’s markets along the northern Front Range. Buyers are in a frenzy with very little to see and homebuilders are 12-18 months out on delivery.
There are strategies that can help buyers win the day but trying to go it alone is bound to lead to disappointment. Here are the top 5 strategies to help you succeed in winning a bid for your next home.
1.Start with a Lender
Unless you’re a cash buyer, get yourself preapproved (not just pre-qualified) before you begin looking at houses or commercial property. There are several compelling reasons for this. First, you’ll be ready to pull the trigger and you’ll be more competitive when you do find the right property. Second, with COVID showing restrictions, it’s not time to be a looky-loo. Brokers are permitted to take qualified and bona fide buyers through occupied homes. They will not take you on a fishing expedition. I used to occasionally tell buyers it was okay to “go look before your approval to give you a sense of what’s out there.” That’s not how it works these days. Prosperity Home Mortgage is our outstanding mortgage affiliate, and the team are experts at helping pre-approve buyers and being ready to close quickly to make your offer stand out.
2. Understand Contract Contingencies
Colorado’s purchase agreement is notoriously slanted to buyers. There are myriad contingencies that favor buyers and relieve them of the obligation to perform while receiving their earnest money back. In order to win in multiple offer situations, it’s imperative that you understand each of those steps along the way and where you may be able to give a little to get a seller’s attention. Waiving the home or property inspection is not optimal. Redrafting the final Loan Conditions clause could be a good way to emphasize good faith.
3. Be Ready
You’ll likely have to move more quickly than you’re comfortable with. If your real estate broker tells you the house you’re looking at will be in multiple offers within a few hours, believe them. Brokers aren’t out there just trying to arm wrestle you to buy. They’d prefer you have time to think it over too. The reality of the residential real estate market means you may not have time for a second showing and you may need to be ready to jump into the fray more quickly than you’re comfortable with. Experienced brokers have a sense for which houses will be popular and will be apt to move quickly.
4. Make Your Best Offer
Some buyers and real estate agents like to utilize the “escalation clause” tactic. That’s when a buyer makes an offer at a certain price but agrees to increase (or escalate) that price if a competing offer is higher. This becomes very tricky when there are multiple escalation clauses. It also telegraphs that the buyer hasn’t made their best offer yet. I’ve personally seen escalation clauses work, but just as often I’ve seen them backfire. Sellers have been known to kick out all offers and push back for “highest and best, no escalation.” They’ve also been known to just take the best offer and not attempt to escalate – feeling that the highest offer was from buyers who were ready to be serious.
5. Practice Flexibility
We’ve used the word “pivot” a lot this year, but it reflects a perfect picture of the flexibility one needs in this business environment. Negotiate with a flexibility that will help you prevail. There are many important aspects of an offer to sellers. Price is huge, but sometimes a delayed possession, a quick close, or the ability to carve out certain exclusions can resonate. Have your broker ask the listing agent what’s important to the homeowners and try to give them as much of their wish list as you can.
You can relieve yourself of the disappointment buyers feel who lose out over and over by practicing this advice and by hiring a seasoned broker to facilitate the process. Kentwood residential and commercial brokers stand ready to help you WIN your next bidding war.
I’ve been in real estate for 2 ½ decades and actively sold for 22 years before stepping exclusively into management. Every November, my clients would mull the decision about whether to put their home on the market over the holidays or wait until the spring.
Our brokers report this conversation is even more prevalent now, winter of 2020/2021. In a typical year, real estate owners are facing a decision about selling during the holidays – whether that means putting their homes on the market or keeping them on the market through the season. This year, layer on the COVID-19 pandemic, and things get more complicated.
Those homeowners who are game to join or stay in the market could be richly rewarded for their decision. Here are the top 6 reasons why owners may want to sell now.
When I was a busy listing broker, I advised sellers that they may not get as many showings over the holidays and into January, but the buyers who were looking were serious and wanted to find a home. With the historically low inventory, demand is still pent up, even this winter.
The incredibly low mortgage rates are helping drive buyer demand and fuels their motivation to continue a house hunt through the winter months.
I remember a family I worked with many years ago who were wrestling with whether to put their house on the market in early December. They’d already purchased their replacement in a private deal with their neighbors three doors down but needed to sell their current home. They asked me whether I could sell it over the holidays, and I said, “Of course!” We decorated the house, baked cookies, priced it to sell, and within three weeks Stan and Andrea could move on. That was a very different market, with far less buyer demand than now. We fully believed the beautiful decorations and homey smells contributed to a feeling of warmth, safety, and comfort for the buyers. People are craving that even more today.
Less competition can help fuel multiple offers and a quicker sale than in the spring when dozens more homes may be on the market in your neighborhood. Position your product to sell when demand is high, and competition is low. As I said in #1, buyers who are looking for their next home now are motivated to get a deal done.
Technology has enabled us to avoid more feet through the door than is absolutely necessary. Our brokers at Kentwood Real Estate have become masters of virtual open houses, virtual tours, drone photos, and safe showing protocols. Sellers can use our technology to restrict showing windows if they want to avoid certain days and times.
In Colorado, home builders are busy keeping up with demand. They’re low on inventory at the moment and have been rapidly raising their prices due to supply chain and labor shortages and to slow traffic in order to get some breathing room. By spring 2021, they’ll be more able to handle the buyer demand, which will add additional inventory to our market.
Still on the Fence?
It feels complicated. It’s the holidays, there’s a nasty virus going around. The inclination may be to hole up and wait. However, if you’re considering selling your home in the next few months, it may be wise to consult with your real estate broker to see how the holiday season is shaping up in your neck of the woods.
Written by Gretchen Rosenberg, President and CEO of Kentwood Real Estate
There are many benefits to working with the full-service real estate professionals at Kentwood Real Estate. During challenging times, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the complex process of buying or selling real estate. If you’re considering going it alone to sell as For Sale By Owner or on your own as a buyer, or by using a less than full-service company, it’s critical to consider the following:
1. Your Safety Is a Priority
Your family’s safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO or call on owners directly, it is incredibly difficult to control the circumstances of the showing or disclosure of information related to safety. A real estate professional will have the proper protocol in place to protect not only your belongings but your family’s health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours for buyers, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your family.
2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer
Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 44% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 93%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Kentwood real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house. They’re also adept at helping buyers through a complex process using those same virtual tools. A full-service professional owes a duty to you and your transaction to ensure you receive the information you need to make informed decisions. You don’t know what you don’t know. A service orientation and high level of experience are vital and will save you time and money in the long run.
3. There Are Many Negotiations
Here are just a few of the people we negotiate with throughout a transaction:
The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interests of the buyer
Or the seller (if you’re a buyer) who wants the highest price, most favorable closing date, and fewest contract conditions/contingencies
Inspectors, who work for the buyer and will almost always find challenges or recommendations for a house
The appraiser if there is a question of value
Attorneys, title companies, and the other broker
As part of our training, brokers are taught to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers or sellers looking to complete what is probably the largest transaction of their lives. The best brokers advocate for their clients while keeping the end game in focus. A win for everyone is when the transaction is closed, and people can move on to the next steps in their life journey.
4. Is the Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage?
Having a buyer who wants to purchase your home is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment.
Further complicating the situation is how the current mortgage market is rapidly evolving because of the number of families out of work and in mortgage forbearance. A loan program that was available yesterday could be gone tomorrow. You need someone who is working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table, or you as the buyer, gets the best mortgage service and advice possible.
5. Transactions are Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint
The documentation involved in the selling process has increased dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations have become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the broker acts as a third-party to help the buyers and sellers avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people trying to sell their own houses has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.
6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent
A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. Two of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure and informed pricing:
“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”
The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place. Particularly if you’ve received topflight information on pricing competitively.
Doing it alone leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and net the same amount of money or have a buyer agent negotiating for and advising you? Before you decide to take on the challenge of wading into the real estate markets, contact a Kentwood broker to discuss your options.
A question we’ve been asked recently is whether in 2021 we will face a foreclosure crisis when the forbearance mortgage relief options come to an end? If you remember the housing crisis that began in 2008, you might be feeling like you’re revisiting a familiar scene. However familiar it may feel, plans have been put in place within the forbearance regulations to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Homeowners this time around are able to request 180 days of mortgage relief through forbearance. Once that first 180 days expires, they’re entitled to request 180 additional days, bringing the total to 360 days of deferred payment eligibility.
It would be wise for homeowners in forbearance to stay in touch with their lender, and create a plan for the deferred payments as a step toward avoiding foreclosure. By planning and communicating with your lender, foreclosure doesn’t have to be one of your options.
Some homeowners who are in the forbearance program have concerns they’ll have to pay their deferred payments back in a lump sum at the end of forbearance. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Fannie Maeexplains:
“You don’t have to repay the forbearance amount all at once upon completion of your forbearance plan…Here’s the important thing to remember: If you receive a forbearance plan, you will have options when it comes to repaying the missed amount. You don’t have to pay the forbearance amount at once unless you are able to do so.”
Fewer than thought
The number of people in the program has been decreasing. Fewer people than initially expected are still in forbearance, so the number of homeowners who will need to work out alternative payment options is declining.
This means there are fewer and fewer homeowners at risk of foreclosure, and many who initially applied for forbearance didn’t end up needing it. Mike Fratantoni, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), explains:
“Nearly two-thirds of borrowers who exited forbearance remained current on their payments, repaid their forborne payments, or moved into a payment deferral plan. All of these borrowers have been able to resume – or continue – their pre-pandemic monthly payments.”
For those who are still in forbearance and unable to make their payments, foreclosure isn’t the only option left. In their Homeowner Equity Insights Report, CoreLogic indicates:
“In the second quarter of 2020, the average homeowner gained approximately $9,800 in equity during the past year.”
Many homeowners have enough equity in their homes today to be able to sell their houses instead of foreclosing. Selling and protecting the overall financial investment may be a solid option for many homeowners. As Ivy Zelman, Founder of Zelman & Associates, mentioned in a recent podcast:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
If you’re currently in forbearance or think you should be because you’re concerned about being able to make your mortgage payments, reach out to your lender to discuss your options and next steps. Having a trusted and knowledgeable professional on your side to guide you is essential in this process and might be the driving factor that helps you stay in your home.
Our Prosperity Home Mortgage team can help if you’d like to discuss forbearance, refinancing, or would like to purchase a home and need to get a mortgage. You can find our PHM team on our website! Visit www.Kentwood.com
Check with your own advisors before making any decisions based on this information. The information contained in this article is not intended to be construed as investment advice. Kentwood Real Estate does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. Nothing should be construed as investment advice. Conduct your own research and obtain professional advice before making any investment decisions. Kentwood Real Estate will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained in this article or blog.
Jim Collins’ classic bestseller Good to Great celebrates it’s 20th anniversary of publication next year. At Kentwood Real Estate we’ve taken many of Collins’ insights to heart.
Discipline is where it’s at
Of the many examples of success cited in the book, one word stands out and is repeated – discipline. Discipline of people, thought, and action. Getting the right people on board and creating single-minded goals, remaining focused on execution and honest about the facts of a situation, and finally focusing on what is important.
We remain committed to being a brokerage of elite agents who collaborate and excel. Kentwood agents are never part-timers and always bring a level of real estate or business experience to their profession. Kentwood staff and management recognize the importance of creating value for our consumers and our agents. It’s a partnership of the best of the best who are embedded in our community.
Kentwood brokers recognize the great honor it is when our clients entrust us to help them accomplish their real estate goals. We excel in many aspects of real estate; marketing, analysis, negotiation, but we’re passionate about listening and understanding what our clients’ needs are. We want to grow your nest egg and net worth and provide comfort at home, and through that, we grow our company.
We trust our people to act consistent with our company values. We encourage freedom and responsibility to do the right thing. We’re confident that we accomplish more together and that deep roots matter. Our team of agents are among the most successful brokers in the U.S. and they possess the experience to assess potential in any given situation. Our team of staff and managers keep focused on helping our agents succeed for their clients.
Kentwood Real Estate’s nearly 40 years of success is borne of these disciplines. Our passion to inspire people to imagine the next steps in their life journey is how we start every day. We’re here to help!
Written by Kentwood Real Estate President and CEO Gretchen Rosenberg
Rooted In… Community Engagement
Be a Giver
Kentwood Real Estate and our ancillary companies like Denver Rental, Kentwood Commercial, Kentwood Relocation, and Prosperity Home Mortgage are filled with people with a passion.
We’re passionate about where we live and work and about giving to our communities in myriad ways. Our company purpose states “Deep Roots Matter” because we believe in our core that where you live is more than the sticks and bricks of your abode.
This week dropping your ballot in a vote box or heading to the polls on Tuesday are the best ways to demonstrate your civic engagement. Don’t sit on the sidelines hoping others will do the heavy lifting. Aside from the big races, we have many important ballot initiatives on the Colorado ballots that will impact our lives in large and small ways. Consider all sides of the equation and make a choice. Then take that ballot and drop it in a secure box by Tuesday afternoon or find your local polling place if that’s your preference.
The list of where our people volunteer their time and send their donations is lengthy. Check out more information on how we’re rooted in community at Kentwood.com. Stand alongside our volunteers and help. This week alone we raised hundreds of dollars and filled a truck with donations on a few hours’ notice to help the Grand County fire victims. We don’t have an office in Grand County and only a couple of our brokers sell in that region. But all Coloradoans are our neighbors and we’re here to help the communities we love.