Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Online Dominance. How real estate brokers can become more relevant than Zillow and Trulia in the online marketplace?

Most real estate brokers know the pitfalls and shortcomings of sites like Zillow and Truila, but do consumers? More importantly, do they care? When consumers take to the internet to begin their home search or to just see what’s out there, they are looking for a few very important things and facts and accurate information aren’t always what they’re looking for.

The first thing most consumers are looking for is anonymity. Consumers want the freedom to search the internet for housing information, loan qualification guidelines, home improvement tips, and more without the onslaught of phone calls and emails following up or trying to gain their business. Online companies, like Zillow and Trulia, provide a free and hassle free environment for consumers to browse homes and collect the information they desire without having to commit to working with a professional. Many consumers that are gathering information aren’t quite ready to begin the home search or apply for loan, but may be 6 months to a year down the road. Consumers that are still in the pre-home searching phase want to have the freedom to see what’s out there on their own and are willing to settle for a semi-flawed search or slightly inaccurate information to do so. Having to contact a professional, either real estate or lender, creates a sense of commitment to most consumers that they just aren’t ready for.

Another important feature to the online seeker is the amount of information they can gather. Consumers want to be able to find all the information they feel is necessary to make the right decision in buying or selling their home. Three primary questions most consumers have when entering the real estate market are: Whether this is a good time to buy or sell a home? What homes are for sale in the area and price range they want? What is their home worth?

Successful internet sites, such as Zillow and Trulia, provide numerous pages of extensive information covering pertinent topics, including property details, pictures, tax data, area schools and information, crime activity, and transit information. Zillow sets itself apart by providing this information to the public, where other real estate sites only provide this information to brokers, forcing the consumer to interact.

The online marketplace has provided consumers with the ability to review, rate, and recommend different services and professionals, creating years of user-generated content that creates an in-depth perspective on a particular area or professional. Staying active in social networks and the blogging sphere allows brokers to create and share their own experience and expertise in particular neighborhoods and market conditions becoming more relevant to consumers.

Staying involved in the online marketplace and mobile environment helps to connect with the largest majority of consumers. Todd Carpenter’s article “Why online consumers love Zillow and Trulia more than you,” reports that 68% of home shoppers use mobile applications at the start and throughout their research. Also, 77% of respondents said they used mobile applications at home, demonstrating the power of the mobile marketplace and its virtual reach to consumers. Dominating this platform is essential to connecting with the new online customer.

Just being online and having an internet presence isn’t always enough. Engaging the consumer on multiple levels of their home search establishes a holistic real estate resource, ensuring the consumer’s needs are met from the start of their real estate life to the purchase of a home and beyond. Providing an open market place where consumers can estimate what their home is worth, search for a new home, manage their home financing, and make smart decisions on home improvements allow consumers to be connected to professionals and consumers in the areas they are interested in.

Brokers should create an unparalleled experience for their consumers where they can access the information they desire and when ready, can be connected to the professionals that will give them the best experience online and in person. In the end, the home search always requires face-to-face customer service, but staying relevant in the online marketplace will create a presence that captures those initial seekers.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hidden Costs Associated with Homeownership

It seems that there are hundreds of blatant costs that come with buying a home. You have the obviously ones, like your mortgage, closing costs, moving costs, etc. And most smart homebuyers go into this whole process feeling prepared and ready for any curve balls that might be thrown at them. But even the savviest of homebuyers may not see some of the most common hidden costs associated with purchasing a home. Below are a few costs that you might not expect, but are a very real possibility.

One of the most common costs that take people off-guard is utility expenses. When you initially move into a place, you may have a general idea of how much it will cost to heat and cool the place. But if you purchase in the summer, the other three seasons might throw you for a loop, especially in Colorado. Some winters are unusually brutal and can cause people to run up a high heating bill, while others are mild and do not require a lot to keep warm. Have some reserve money set aside for utility bills until you are fully knowledgeable about how much it will cost to heat or cool your home year round.

When moving to a different state, city, or even neighborhood, the cost of living can fluctuate greatly. And we are not just talking about your mortgage payment. The cost of common things like groceries, gas, and restaurants can change from mile to mile. Be sure to do your homework and thoroughly examine the area you are thinking of moving to and prepare wisely. There is nothing like breaking your budget with a grocery bill higher than you ever expected.

And while we mentioned above that moving costs seem to be a no-brainer, there are even hidden costs associated with that that could destroy your budget. There is more to take into account than just hiring the movers and truck. Like with most things in life, the small fees can add up. Take into account the cost of fuel, charges for not being ready when the movers arrive, and the long distance drop-off fees. But also keep in mind the small charges that occur once you move in to the house of your dreams. Most people do not unpack their kitchen immediately, so there goes money for eating out until you’re settled, and then the large cost of the first grocery bill. If you didn’t bring hardware and cleaning supplies with you, those can add up quickly too!

There are a lot of costs that go into home buying, but if you are well informed and smart about it, you can help to eliminate some of those surprise, hidden costs and keep to your budget.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Denver Tops Top Ten Places to Move in US

There are hundreds of reasons why Denver is such a great city to live. Some may love it because of the 300+ days of sunshine and easy access to the great outdoors, while others may be fans of the growing art, music, and food scene. Whatever your reasons may be, you are not alone in your recognition of why this city is so great. In a recent article on HomeownersInsurance.com, Denver claims the spot as the top place to move in the United States.

This list compiles a variety of criteria to judge the ten cities that made the cut. This judgment was made up of five different factors: rent prices, home values, living costs, transportation, and amounts of activities, or fun. Each of the city’s criteria was given a number from 1-10 and the total was tallied. Denver reigned supreme.

Out of the possible ten, both transportation and living costs scored a perfect 10. Those who drive I-25 during rush hour may question this, but compared to Los Angeles or New York traffic (who scored a one and five respectively), we have it easy. Rent prices scored a four, home values scored a five, while fun rounded out the survey with six points. Denver’s total points came in at 35, higher than any other city in the United States. It beat out cities like Charlotte, North Carolina (a close second), Austin, San Diego, and Phoenix.

With the recent news rolling in as overly positive for Denver, those of us who already call it home can sit back and enjoy its rising popularity!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Loft Charm in the Historic Curtis Park Neighborhood

Many of Denver’s numerous neighborhoods have experienced drastic change and growth in the past few years. The area surrounding the namesake Curtis Park is no exception. One of Denver’s most historic areas, the Curtis Park neighborhood is seeing modern town homes, trendy restaurants, and chic renovations take over a vast number of the older houses. With these newer renovations, the classic and charming exteriors remain intact, but the interiors are revamped and modernized. That is exactly the case with our newest listing at 2524 Champa.

This building is located just minutes from downtown and is surrounded by shops and restaurants. The interior boasts an array of excellent details and popular finishes. An exposed brick wall carries throughout the entire space, portraying the typical loft style. The open floor plan connects a newly updated, designer kitchen with stainless steel appliances, a spacious dining room, and a comfortable living room with views out to Champa Street.

There are three bedrooms in this loft, all with big windows that allow in plenty of light. The two bathrooms offer beautiful upgrades and tasteful design. But arguably the best feature of this house is the private, rooftop deck. This deck offers great views of downtown, entertaining space, and a rare private outdoor area in the heart of the city.

As a whole, this unit is 1,334 square feet, but also includes an additional 207 square feet of private storage space and two deeded, off-street parking spaces. This loft is ideal for anyone looking for urban living, yet still like to maintain an air of privacy!