- Melissa Kellerman
Buying or selling a home can be a stressful experience without the security of a trusted REALTOR in your corner.
Choose me to be your trusted REALTOR.
I will guide you through every step of this rewarding process with professionalism and dedication. My attention to detail, strong communication and 100% effort will deliver the results you deserve. It is my mission to build lasting relationships and earn repeat referrals. The key to this is providing my clients with personalized service before, during and after every transaction. I am here to help you with all of your real estate needs.
Feel free to call or email me anytime!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Don’t wait until you have damaged, lost, or stolen property to assemble all the details. The stress and anxiety of the moment will make it difficult for you to remember all of your belongings.
Here are tips to help you compose your list:
• Go through your house, room by room, including the garage, basement, attic and off premises storage unit.
• Write down the contents of each room including clothes, jewelry, floor and window treatments, sporting equipment, furniture, electronics, cabinetry, appliances, artwork, antiques and other collectables. Where possible, include the manufacturer and brand, the serial number, the method of acquisition (purchased, inherited or gift), plus the approximate cost or value of the items and the dates you acquired them.
• Take photographs or a video recording of each room, with valuable items prominently displayed.
• Attach photocopies of receipts and appraisals for valuable items and other important family documents, such as your wills, passports and credit cards.
• Store your inventory in a fireproof and watertight safe or safety deposit box.
• Establish a simple method for recording all new major purchases and periodically update your inventory.
Monday, September 20, 2010
September 16, 2010
Enough with the doom and gloom about homeownership.
After all, at the peak of the bubble five years ago, Time had a different take. "Home Sweet Home," declared its cover then, as it celebrated the boom and asked: "Will your house make your rich?"
But it's not enough just to be contrarian. So here are 10 reasons why it's good to buy a home.
2. Mortgages are cheap. You can get a 30-year loan for around 4.3%. What's not to like? These are the lowest rates on record. As recently as two years ago they were about 6.3%. That drop slashes your monthly repayment by a fifth. If inflation picks up, you won't see these mortgage rates again in your lifetime. And if we get deflation, and rates fall further, you can refi.
3. You'll save on taxes. You can deduct the mortgage interest from your income taxes. You can deduct your real estate taxes. And you'll get a tax break on capital gains-if any-when you sell. Sure, you'll need to do your math. You'll only get the income tax break if you itemize your deductions, and many people may be better off taking the standard deduction instead. The breaks are more valuable the more you earn, and the bigger your mortgage. But many people will find that these tax breaks mean owning costs them less, often a lot less, than renting.
5. You'll get a better home. In many parts of the country it can be really hard to find a good rental. All the best places are sold as condos. Money talks. Once again, this is a case by case issue: In Miami right now there are so many vacant luxury condos that owners will rent them out for a fraction of the cost of owning. But few places are so favored. Generally speaking, if you want the best home in the best neighborhood, you're better off buying.
6. It offers some inflation protection. No, it's not perfect. But studies by Professor Karl "Chip" Case (of Case-Shiller), and others, suggest that over the long-term housing has tended to beat inflation by a couple of percentage points a year. That's valuable inflation insurance, especially if you're young and raising a family and thinking about the next 30 or 40 years. In the recent past, inflation-protected government bonds, or TIPS, offered an easier form of inflation insurance. But yields there have plummeted of late. That also makes homeownership look a little better by contrast.
7. It's risk capital. No, your home isn't the stock market and you shouldn't view it as the way to get rich. But if the economy does surprise us all and start booming, sooner or later real estate prices will head up again, too. One lesson from the last few years is that stocks are incredibly hard for most normal people to own in large quantities-for practical as well as psychological reasons. Equity in a home is another way of linking part of your portfolio to the long-term growth of the economy-if it happens-and still managing to sleep at night.
8. It's forced savings. If you can rent an apartment for $2,000 month instead of buying one for $2,400 a month, renting may make sense. But will you save that $400 for your future? A lot of people won't. Most, I dare say. Once again, you have to do your math, but the part of your mortgage payment that goes to principal repayment isn't a cost. You're just paying yourself by building equity. As a forced monthly saving, it's a good discipline.
9. There is a lot to choose from. There is a glut of homes in most of the country. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's below last year's peak, but well above typical levels, and enough for about a year's worth of sales. More keeping coming onto the market, too, as the banks slowly unload their inventory of unsold properties. That means great choice, as well as great prices.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
- Colorado Springs ranked 12th best place for business and careers according to Forbes.com. The annual rankings are based on factors such as cost of doing business, job growth, education attainment and population. (04/09)
- Colorado Springs ranked 6th “Most Wired City” by Forbes.com. The study was compiled by computing the percentage of Internet users with high-speed connections in a particular city and the number of companies providing high-speed Internet in that area. (03/10)
- Colorado Springs ranked 10th “Best City to be a Woman” according to Women’s Health magazine. The study was based on 35 health and lifestyle areas including health, life and fitness. (12/09)
- Colorado Springs wins national award for cultural diversity by the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, a constituency group of the National League of Cities. The award is based on implementing quality and innovative programs in communities to enhance and promote cultural diversity. Each year, the City Cultural Diversity Awards recognize city programs which encourage citizen involvement and show an appreciation of cultural diversity. (03/10)
- Colorado Springs ranked as one of the top “10 Best Drivers’ Cities in America” list according to Car & Driver magazine. Factors such as frequency of sunny days, car ownership costs, and annual road salt use factored into the ratings. (12/09)
- Colorado Springs ranked 9th in “America’s Best Bang-For-The-Buck Cities” by Forbes.com. The study was based on solid housing markets, relatively stable employment, enviable cost of living and quick commutes. (11/09)
Friday, September 17, 2010
Guess what Colorado Springs? We are on the list!
By John Roach of SwitchYard Media
Nonagenarian George W. Johnson has been selling real estate in Seattle for more than 70 years and is still at his desk six mornings a week. (Photo: Dan Lamont)
Buy a house today if you can, but don't sell one if you don't have to, says George W. Johnson, a 97-year-old real-estate agent who has been working the Seattle market since 1936.
Johnson, who is reluctant to call himself America's oldest real-estate agent — he says he just learned of a 99-year-old broker in Florida — has seen his share of housing booms and busts since he hung his first real-estate shingle 74 years ago.
"I've been through a lot of these ups and downs," he says, remembering the property boom that followed World War II, as well as the deep downturn in the 1970s when Seattle's biggest employer, Boeing, laid off thousands of workers.
Through it all, Johnson says he has learned many enduring lessons. Chief among them: After every housing recession, the market has "gone higher than the one before." You have to have the stomach to hang on through all of the twists and turns, he says.
This market a 'baby' compared to days past
Johnson wasn't always a real-estate guy. He was born to a farming family in South Dakota on Dec. 22, 1912, and moved to Seattle at the height of the Great Depression to attend college and pursue a teaching career. To make ends meet, Johnson juggled three jobs at one time. He delivered milk for a while. "Whatever you could do to get by with, you did it."
Then, in 1936, he started dabbling in real estate. Unemployment hovered around 30%, soup lines stretched around blocks, homelessness was rampant.
"You could have bought the best house in (the Seattle neighborhood of) Ballard for $3,500." Times were tough. The current real-estate market, Johnson says, is "a baby" by comparison.
"In addition to the Depression, we had the drought at the same period, so it was just compounded. You wouldn't believe the things that happened during that period."
Johnson, a natty dresser who drives himself to work every day — including Saturdays – managed to carve out a niche as a service-oriented agent. When the economy turned at the end of World War II, he opened up his own shop in Ballard, north of downtown. He and his sons have run George W. Johnson Realtors ever since, weathering the ups and downs in the market with confidence that profits are there for the making.
"I've lost a lot of money in a lot of things, but I've never lost in real estate," Johnson says. He remembers selling his first house in the 1930s for about $1,500. "It's probably worth $300,000 now."
4 real-estate tips from Johnson
You can't thrive in the real-estate industry for this long without learning some useful lessons along the way. Here are some of Johnson's pearls of wisdom:
~Beware one-company towns: Cities dependent on a single company or industry are more vulnerable to jarring downturns if the economy goes south. The Rust Belt's old factory towns have made that abundantly clear.
The Seattle market turned particularly grim in the late 1960s and early '70s when Boeing, the aerospace giant, laid off more than 60,000 people in the Seattle area. "Boeing was about the only major company we had other than (the University of Washington)," he recalls. "Now we've got a much broader base to help out … it is altogether a different proposition."
Johnson counsels homebuyers to look beyond real-estate values and investigate an area's fundamental economy before making a purchase.
~Don't get greedy. Johnson blames "plain old greed" for the latest real-estate downturn — people got caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and banks egged them on with cheap loans.
"Everybody was out to buy a house, raise the price, double it and make a quick buck," he says, shaking his head. "People signed up for stuff that they knew they shouldn't have and they couldn't pay (for) and of course the banks helped them."
Johnson is old-school in that way. At the heart of his real-estate philosophy is his fundamental belief in personal responsibility. "You've got to be able to hang onto a house until conditions are such that you can make a little money," he says, emphasizing that each and every potential homebuyer should make an honest assessment of his or her financial potential and should be wary of offers that seem too good to be true.
"People aren't as dumb as the media is making them out to be. They knew what they were getting into," he says.
But he is compassionate for those who have run into honest trouble. "It's tough on people who lost their jobs and are now losing their homes and that type of thing. It always is," he says.
Their pain, however, is the buyers' gain.
~Timing is everything. "In this market, any young person that hasn't bought a house ought to buy one," Johnson says. "A buyers market doesn't come along that often … you just can hardly help but make money on whatever you buy today at the prices they are."
Johnson says rates are only going to go up over the long term, so borrowing will cost more.
~If you don't have to sell, hang on. Unfortunately, Johnson expects sellers to continue to suffer, at least for now. Buyers, on the other hand, "know it's a buyers market – they are going to come in with offers below what we've appraised it at just because they know a lot of people have to sell," he says.
Despite the continued housing-market struggles, Johnson is confident that the latest downtrend is largely over.
"We are headed up," he says, "but like I said, I think it is going to be slow. It will take a year or two at least."
And as the market heads up, Johnson hopes to be there helping his customers buy and sell homes just as he has for most of his life – out of a small, family office dedicated to service with a smile.
"We've done a good job," he says of his business. "We've been careful and honest and thorough and it's been good service, and I think that will always produce, no matter what business you're in."
If you need a referral for a fabulous lender, just let me know. I happen to work closely with a couple great ones.
By Tara Struyk of Investopedia
The proliferation of services that help homebuyers and sellers complete their own real-estate transactions is relatively recent, and it may have you wondering whether using a real-estate agent is becoming a relic of a bygone era. While doing the work yourself can save you the significant commissions that many real-estate agents command, for many, flying solo may not be the way to go — and could end up being more costly than a commission in the long run. Buying or selling a home is a major financial and emotional undertaking. Find out why you shouldn't discard the notion of hiring an agent just yet.
1. Better access/more convenience
A real-estate agent's full-time job is to act as a liaison between buyers and sellers. This means that he or she will have easy access to all other properties listed by other agents and will know what needs to be done to get a deal together. For example, if you are looking to buy a home, a real-estate agent will track down homes that meet your criteria, get in touch with sellers' agents and make appointments for you to view the homes. If you are buying on your own, you will have to play this telephone tag yourself. This may be especially difficult if you're shopping for homes that are for sale by owner.
Similarly, if you are looking to sell your home yourself, you will have to solicit calls from interested parties, answer questions and make appointments. Keep in mind that potential buyers are likely to move on if you tend to be busy or don't respond quickly enough. Alternatively, you may find yourself making an appointment and rushing home, only to find that no one shows up.
2. Negotiating is tricky business
Many people don't like the idea of doing a real-estate deal through an agent and think that direct negotiation between buyers and sellers is more transparent and allows the parties to look after their own interests better. This is probably true — assuming that both the buyer and seller are reasonable people who are able to get along. Unfortunately, this isn't always an easy relationship.
What if you, as a buyer, like a home but despise its wood-paneled walls, shag carpet and lurid orange kitchen? If you are working with an agent, you can express your contempt for the current owner's decorating skills and rant about how much it'll cost you to upgrade the home without insulting the owner. For all you know, the owner's late mother may have lovingly chosen the décor. Your real-estate agent can convey your concerns to the seller’s agent. Acting as a messenger, the agent may be in a better position to negotiate a discount without ruffling the homeowner's feathers.
A real-estate agent can also play the “bad guy” in a transaction, preventing the bad blood between a buyer and seller that can kill a deal. Keep in mind that sellers can reject a potential buyer's offer for any reason — including just because they hate his or her guts. An agent can help by speaking for you in tough transactions and smoothing things over to keep them from getting too personal. This can put you in a better position to get the house you want. The same is true for the seller, who can benefit from a hard-nosed real-estate agent who will represent his or her interests without turning off potential buyers who want to niggle about the price.
3. Contracts can be hard to handle
If you decide to buy or sell a home, the offer-to-purchase contract is there to protect you and ensure that you are able to back out of the deal if certain conditions aren't met. For example, if you plan to buy a home with a mortgage but you fail to make financing one of the conditions of the sale — and you aren't approved for the mortgage — you can lose your deposit on the home and could even be sued by the seller for failing to fulfill your end of the contract. (Keep in mind that the details of any contract may vary based on state law.)
An experienced real-estate agent deals with the same contracts and conditions on a regular basis and is familiar with which conditions should be used, when they can be removed safely and how to use the contract to protect you, whether you're buying or selling your home.
4. Real-estate agents can't lie
Well, OK, actually they can. But because they are licensed professionals, there are more repercussions if they do than for a private buyer or seller. If you are working with a licensed real-estate agent under an agency agreement, such as a conventional, full-service commission agreement in which the agent agrees to represent you, your agent will be bound by law to a fiduciary relationship. In other words, the agent is bound by law to act in his clients' best interest, not his own.
In addition, most real-estate agents rely on referrals and repeat business to build the kind of client base they'll need to survive in the business. This means that doing what's best for their clients should be as important to them as any individual sale.
Finally, if you do find that your agent has gotten away with lying to you, you will have more avenues for recourse, such as through your agent's broker or professional association or possibly even in court if you can prove that your agent has failed to uphold his fiduciary duties.
When a buyer and seller work together directly, they can — and should — seek legal counsel, but because each is expected to act in his or her best interest, there isn't much you can do if you find out later that you've been duped about multiple offers or the home's condition. And having a lawyer on retainer any time you want to talk about potentially buying or selling a house could cost far more than an agent's commissions by the time the transaction is complete.
5. Not everyone can save money
Many people eschew using a real-estate agent in order to save money, but keep in mind that it is unlikely that both the buyer and seller will reap the benefits of not having to pay commissions. For example, if you are selling your home on your own, you will price it based on the sale prices of other comparable properties in your area. Many of these properties will be sold with the help of an agent. This means that the seller gets to keep the percentage of the home's sale price that might otherwise be paid to the real-estate agent.
However, buyers who are looking to purchase a home sold by owners may also believe they can save some money on the home by not having an agent involved. They might even expect it and make an offer accordingly. However, unless buyer and seller agree to split the savings, they can't both save the commission.
The bottom line
While there are certainly people who are qualified to sell their own homes, taking a quick look at the long list of frequently asked questions on most “for sale by owner” websites suggests the process isn't as simple as many people assume. And when you get into a difficult situation, it can really pay to have a professional on your side.