Buyer/Seller Tips
For Sellers For Buyers
The Role of a Realtor First Time Home Buyers

Selling Your House

Do you Know How Much Rent You Pay?
The 1st Step
Starting Your Search
Making An Offer
I Love Working as a Buyer's Agent
De-personalize & Remove Clutter
Sprucing Up... Interior
Sprucing Up... Exterior
Interviewing Real Estate Agents Relocating
When Commissions are Earned
The Purpose of Advertising
How Realtors are Compensated
New to Denver
Sample Paperwork Sample Paperwork
Definitions of Working Relationships
Listing Agreement
Purchase Contract
Definitions of Working Relationships
Buyer Ageny Agreement
Purchase Contract


The Realtor’s Critical Role in the Real Estate Transaction

Research shows that many homebuyers and sellers are not aware of the true value a Realtor provides during the course of a real estate transaction.

At the same time, many real estate agents assume that the expertise, professional knowledge, and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction are understood and appreciated.

Many of the most important steps are performed behind the scenes by either the Realtor or by their staff. This list seeks to provide insight as to the real role of a full service Realtor throughout a transaction.

The variety of business models in today’s real estate industry affords the homeowner a greater range of options than every before. But no matter which option is chosen, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a Realtor and agreeing to compensate them, homeowners should understand exactly what services will or will not be provided.

Not every real estate agent is a Realtor (with a capital “R”)! The term and logo are trademarked by the National Association of Realtors and can only be used by those who are members through their local association and who have pledged to uphold a strict and enforceable Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical, and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction.

Listed here are over 150 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes, and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete, while some may not be necessary. More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, attention to detail, and knowledge required in today’s real estate transaction, demonstrating the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process.

Remember, not every real estate licensee holds Realtor (Capital “R”) membership. Make sure yours does!

1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation.
2. Confirm appointment by phone, e-mail, or written note.
3. Research all comparable properties currently listed.
4. Research sales activity for past 12 months from MLS and public records.
5. Analyze “Average Days on Market” for like properties.
6. Review property tax information.
7. Prepare a “Comparable Market Analysis” (CMA) to determine market value.
8. Research property’s public record information for lot size and dimensions.
9. Research and verify legal description.
10. Research property’s zoning and current use.
11. Verify legal names of owner in public records.
12. Prepare listing presentation package with the above materials.
13. Assess curb appeal of property.
14. Confirm neighborhood public schools.

Listing Appointment
1. Present seller with overview of current market conditions.
2. Review agent’s and company’s credentials/accomplishments in the market.
3. Present company’s profile and position in marketplace.
4. Present CMA to seller including comparables, solds, current listings, and expireds.
5. Explain pricing strategy based on analysis of market conditions.
6. Present marketing plan for property.
7. Explain benefits of MLS, personal website,, office website.
8. Identify the work done by brokerage and agent “behind the scenes.”
9. Explain various agency relationships and determine seller’s preference.
10. Review and explain Listing Contract and obtain seller’s signature.

Now that property is listed…
1. Review current title information.
2. Measure interior room sizes.
3. Consult with seller on showing times/restrictions and prepare instructions for Buyers’ Agents.
4. Obtain current mortgage information: companies and account numbers.
5. Verify current loan information with lender.
6. Review current appraisal, if available.
7. Identify Home Owner Association manager, if relevant.
8. Verify HOA fees with manager.
9. Order copy of HOA bylaws if applicable.
10. Determine average utility usage from past 12 months.
11. Verify security system and whether owned or leased.
12. Prepare specific list of all upgrades, special features of property.
13. Determine list of property’s Inclusions.
14. Have extra key made for lockbox.
15. Verify if property has rental units involved. If so,
      a. Make copies of all leases for listing file.
      b. Verify all rents and deposits.
16. Arrange for yard sign to be installed.
17. Obtain completed disclosure forms from Seller.
18. Discuss potential improvements to improve marketability.
19. Provide resources for any work to be done prior to market exposure.
20. Take both interior and exterior photos showcasing the property’s best features.
21. Prepare property brochures for seller’s review.

Enter Property in the MLS
1. Review all information for accuracy prior to entering into MLS database.
2. Enter property in multiple sub-areas to increase exposure.
3. Provide attention-getting text/description to pique interest.
4. Upload photos into MLS.

Marketing the Property
1. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors.
2. Have listing presented on personal website, company website,
3. Create customized text for on-line listing exposure.
4. Review comparable listings daily to ensure property remains competitive.
5. Prepare mailing and contact list.
6. Develop “Just Listed” flyers.
7. Distribute “Just Listed” flyers to neighborhood residents.
8. Create “Special Feature” cards to promote property.
9. Update any changes in price or terms promptly on MLS and brochures.
10. Call Buyers’ Agents for feedback after showing the property.
11. Relay feedback to seller as soon as possible.
12. Discuss feedback to determine if changes will help accelerate the sale.

The Offer and Contract
1. Review all offer to purchase contracts submitted.
2. Advise the seller on pros and cons of each offer received.
3. Contact Buyers’ Agents to discuss offer.
4. Contact buyers’ lender to verify qualifications to purchase.
5. Fax or deliver disclosures to Buyers’ Agent (prior to offer if possible).
6. Negotiate all offers on seller’s behalf.
7. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, amendments to Buyers’ Agent.
8. Provide copy of contract to title company.
9. Deliver earnest money to title company or to managing broker.
10. Deliver copy of signed offer to buyer’s agent.
11. Advise seller regarding additional offers if any are received.
12. Change status in MLS to “under contract”.

Tracking the Loan Process
1. Follow loan processing through to the underwriter.
2. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track.

Home Inspection
1. Coordinate buyer’s professional home inspection with the seller.
2. Review home inspector’s report, if possible.
3. Negotiate repairs to be done prior to closing.
4. Advise seller on requested repairs.
5. Provide resources to do any required work.
6. Coordinate and oversee any repairs to be done on seller’s behalf, if needed.

The Appraisal
1. Schedule the appraisal.
2. Meet appraiser at property to accompany through home and provide any information not readily apparent.
3. Provide comparable sales used to determine list price to appraiser.
4. Follow up on appraisal.

Closing Preparations
1. Verify contract and all addendums are signed by all parties.
2. Coordinate closing process with buyer’s agent and lender.
3. Ensure all parties have necessary forms and information to close the sale.
4. Work with buyer’s agent to schedule walk-through prior to closing.
5. Request final closing figures from title company.
6. Examine closing figures to ensure accuracy.
7. Review all closing documents to ensure accuracy.
8. Coordinate this closing with seller’s next purchase and resolve any timing issues.
9. Have a “no surprises” closing.
10. Refer sellers to an outstanding agent if relocating.
11. Change MLS status to “sold.” Input sale date, sale price, selling broker and agent’s ID numbers, etc.

*Thanks to Paula Bean, Orlando, Florida, for creating the idea for this list.

When speaking with real estate agents, you will often find that when they talk to you about buying real estate, they will refer to your purchase as a “home.” Yet if you are selling property, they will often refer to it as a “house.” There is a reason for this. Buying real estate is often an emotional decision, but when selling real estate you need to remove the emotion from the equation.

You absolutely need to think of your house as a marketable commodity. Property. Real estate. Your goal is to enable others to see it as their potential home, not yours. If you do not consciously make this decision, you can inadvertently create a situation where it takes longer to sell your property.

The first step in getting your home ready to sell is to “de-personalize” it.

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De-personalize and Remove Clutter
The reason you want to “de-personalize” your home is because you want buyers to view it as their potential home. When a potential homebuyer sees your family photos hanging on the wall, it puts your own brand on the home and momentarily shatters their illusions about owning the house. Therefore, put away family photos, sports trophies, collectibles, and souvenirs. Rent a storage area for a few months. Do not just box up personal items and put them in the basement or closet. The de-cluttering process is a vital part of preparing your house to sell.

Because of the emotional attachment to your own possessions in the house, the act of removing clutter is one of the hardest things for people to do. However, it really does impact how buyers view the home. Take a step back and pretend you are a buyer—or go to some open houses to see how other homes have been prepared to sell. The difference between “for sale” and “sold” often lies in first impressions!

Kitchen Clutter
This is an easy place to start—first, clear off all of the counters. Everything must go. Store small appliances in drawers or cupboards and take them out when you need them. If you need to remove items to make room, do it! Just think of it as small steps that will make your eventual move easier!

Homebuyers tend to open all of the cabinets and drawers in your kitchen when they are looking at the house. They want to make sure there is enough storage space for all of their things. If drawers, cabinets, shelves, etc. look crammed with stuff, the impression is that there is a lack of storage. The goal is to make room—even though it may inconvenience your way of operating in the short term.

Don’t forget the area beneath the sink. This should be as empty as possible and cleaned to demonstrate that it is a good, dry storage area.

Closet Clutter
In all homes, but especially in older homes with the typical tiny closets, being organized and free of extra things is critical. Remove clothing and accessories that are out of season and put them in storage. Take this opportunity to downsize and get rid of the items that you no longer use. Again, the buyer is looking to see if all of their “stuff” will fit. It is distracting and difficult to determine the size of the space if it is packed to the brim.

Furniture—Show a Sense of Space
Often, people have oversized furniture and too much of it—not for day to day living, but to show off the size of their rooms. Tour some builders’ homes to see how they stage the properties to get an idea of what you may be able to remove or rearrange to create a larger sense of space. Use the storage unit!

Storage Area Clutter
Clear out your basement, garage, and attic too to show just how roomy these spaces are. If there are things that you do not want to part with, box them up and use the storage unit. Again, this will just make life easier when you are ready to move into YOUR new home!

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Sprucing Up…Interior

Plumbing and Fixtures
All sink fixtures should look shiny and new. If cleaning doesn’t do the trick, replace them with a very basic new one. This is an inexpensive fix that makes a great impression. Obviously, any fixtures that leak or don’t function properly should be replaced.

Ceilings, Walls, and to Paint or not to Paint…
The most important items here are water stains and peeling paint. If there was an old leak that has been replaced, it is crucial to deal with the remaining water stain. Seeing an area that indicates moisture is a red flag to buyers and their agents. Of course, if there is a current leak, that will need to be repaired.

Peeling paint must also be addressed—not just for the aesthetics, but for safety. If you are living in an older home (pre-1978), the chances are that lead-based paint exists in your house. Peeling paint can cause lead exposure. Be sure that all peeling paint is addressed.

If you feel that your color scheme in your house is a bit dated, there is no cheaper fix than painting. You can do it yourself and it makes a world of difference. Choose a neutral color that will make the rooms seem spacious. Consult with your agent if you would like to be a bit bolder as they usually have good ideas of how to use color effectively.

Carpet and Floors
Unless your carpet is a very outdated color or in very bad condition, a good carpet cleaning should suffice. If it needs to be replaced, go with something inexpensive in a neutral color. Consider removing old carpet and leaving hardwood floors revealed if they are in good condition.

Windows and Doors
Be sure all windows are functioning properly and that there are no broken or cracked panes. Do the same with doors—use WD40 to get rid of creaking noises, have doors trimmed if they are difficult to open and shut. Use oil to show off the woodwork of the doors if it is notable. Especially take care to make your front door gleam as this is the very first close-up view buyers have of your house.

Smoke is one of the most obvious odors in a home. If you smoke inside, use an ionizer—they work wonders to remove the smoky smell from the house.

Pet lovers are often blind to the aromas their “children” create. If you have cats, make sure the litter box is emptied daily. If you have dogs, have them outside as much as possible. Use carpet freshener or a spray like Febreeze to minimize animal smells.

How much to spend
Not much! The goal here is to simply remove as many potential negative impressions as possible. A really thorough cleaning, de-cluttering, and repairing of anything leaking makes a world of difference in how your house will appear to buyers. If you think that replacing the kitchen would help sell the property faster, think again! Many times, buyers would rather purchase a property that allows them to renovate according to their tastes. Making a major renovation just prior to selling is not only stressful, but it is a big roll of the dice as to whether or not you will re-coup your outlay.

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Sprucing Up…Exterior

Go outside and try to take a really objective look at your house. Think about the HGTV show “Curb Appeal.” Does your house look inviting and fresh or tired and cold? Small things can make a big difference!

Consider whether or not your landscaping looks at least comparable to the other yards in the neighborhood. If it is a little weak, buy some bushes or shrubs and plant them. Avoid buying trees as they take too long to mature and smaller ones don’t do much for the immediate appearance.

Flowers are the easiest and best way to make your house more inviting. This can mean mums in the fall, or pansies in the winter. But nothing adds more color and cheer for your money.

Of course, your lawn should be well manicured, cut, edged, and not brown. Consider this early on in case replacing portions of sod or even re-seeding is necessary.

House Exterior
To paint or not to paint? This is the biggest decision regarding the exterior of your house. Consider whether or not your current color is in good condition or not and also if it is a dated color. Shades of yellow seem to always make a house feel warm and inviting. If painting the entire house is not possible, sometimes just refreshing the paint on the trim makes a fantastic difference.

Other exterior considerations include the roof condition and the gutters. If your roof leaks, it needs to be repaired or replaced. If you have a leaky roof and choose not to repair it, you still must disclose that it leaks and the buyer will want a new roof anyway. Otherwise, wait and see what the home inspector says. Why spend money unnecessarily?

Making sure that your gutters are clean shows that you have taken good care of your house and also helps in preventing water problems with your roof.

Again, the more flowers the better. If you have pets, be sure to clean up after them. The yard should be neat and clean. Toys should be contained in a toy box or basket. Pools and spas should be clean.

Front Door/Entry
Make sure that your front door opens smoothly (including the key and lock), and is cleaned and polished or freshly painted. While their agents are opening lockboxes and trying to get the front door open, the appearance of the door and the porch are what the buyers are noticing. Spend a few dollars on a new doormat—you can use this at your new house too!

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Interviewing Real Estate Agents

If you have decided to sell your home, you have likely been watching how other homes in your neighborhood have been selling in recent months. You probably have an idea of what you think it is worth. Being a savvy person, you schedule appointments with three local Realtors to determine with whom you would most like to work. Each brings an analysis of the market and each recommends a sales price.

Amazingly, a couple of the agents have determined sales prices that are lower than you anticipated. While they show comparable sales and support their prices with hard data, you still believe that your house is worth more. When the third agent comes, their sales pricing matches your idea much more than the other two. Their price may even be higher than what you expected. Suddenly, you are a happy and excited seller already making plans for your proceeds.

And the chosen agent is…
Many people choose Realtor #3. After all, this is a person who seems to listen to your opinions and be willing to work with you. This is an agent who cares about putting more money into your pocket…and you can always drop the price later, right?

The reality is that what may have just happened is a dubious practice called “buying a listing.” He “bought” the listing by indicating that you might be able to get a higher price than the other agents recommended. In all likelihood, he is doubtful that your house will sell for that price—his plan is to obtain the listing and then convince you to lower the price.

Why do agents do this? A well-meaning and reputable, hard-working agent may feel pressure from a homeowner who has an inflated perception of his home’s value. On the flipside of the coin, there are, unfortunately, some agents who make this sales practice part of their routine.

This is a time when remembering that your home is a commodity and that the market will dictate is more important than either how much you have put into it or what your emotions tell you about its value!

Behind the Scenes
No matter what the case may be, if you begin with your home priced too high, you have just added stress to what can already be a stressful process.

Contrary to popular opinion, the listing agent does not usually succeed in selling your home to a homebuyer they have procured. Rather, listing agents spend their time marketing your property to other brokers who work with homebuyers, exponentially increasing your exposure. The first few weeks of a listing are the busiest with buyer agents previewing homes for their clients, and with showings…if the house is priced right.

Dropping your price…too late
When you drop your price, after a few weeks of no offers, your house is now “old news.” You will never be able to make up the initial buzz of activity you would have had with a realistic price. Your house could take longer to sell.

Even if you do successfully sell at an above market price, your buyer will most likely still need a mortgage. And with a mortgage comes an appraisal. If comparable sales for the last 6 months do not support your pricing, the house will not appraise and the deal will likely fall apart. Then your options are renegotiating your price if the buyer is willing or going back on the market.

The longer your house sits on the market, the less your negotiating power. Potential buyers may think you are getting desperate to sell or wonder what is wrong with the property. You may receive lowball offers. By overpricing in the beginning, you may actually end up selling for less than you would have normally received.

Are Commissions Negotiable?
Yes! Commissions are always negotiable. When you finalize your listing agreement, you and your agent will settle on the amount of the real estate commission.

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How and When Listing Commissions are Earned
Your listing agreement specifies a listing price. Your agent’s job is to bring a “ready, willing, and able” buyer to present an offer. If you reach agreement with the buyer, then the agent has done his job and earned the fee. Once the sale has closed, the real estate broker is paid from the proceeds of the sale.

If the buyer proves to be unable or unwilling to conclude the sale, the house is placed back on the market and the agent has to begin earning his or her commission all over again.

However, if the seller backs out or does not accept an offer that meets the price and terms of the listing agreement, the listing broker has still earned the commission. They may want to be paid, even though you did not actually sell your home. Therefore, it is very important to carefully consider every detail when completing your listing contract and accepting an offer to buy your property.

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The Purpose of Advertising in General
Every home seller likes to be assured that their listing agent or the real estate company will run ads featuring their home. Newspaper ads, local real estate magazines, the Internet, and neighborhood newsletters are all useful venues for advertising.

Of course the agents and companies will run ads featuring your house, but not for the reasons you expect.

The main job of advertising is not to sell your house directly. Advertising generates phone calls and some of those callers become clients of the agents answering the calls. This creates a pool of homebuyers looking for property in general, all represented by selling agents. When you consider all of the agents and companies who also advertise homes, there is a large pool of homebuyers in the market at any given time.

The agents representing the homebuyers know about your house because it is listed in the Multiple Listing Service, has been on office and broker preview, and because your agent may have also sent flyers to all the local real estate offices.

The agents match up their clients with available homes, one of which may be yours. Then they show the homes to their clients, who eventually make an offer on one. That is how your house gets sold. Ads create a pool of clients, one of which buys your home. Ads do not usually sell your house directly.

Real Estate Office Advertising
Again, advertising your home in newspapers and magazines rarely sells your home directly. More likely than not, the buyer who eventually purchases your house will have called on a totally different house. This happens also with buyers who call on your house. They will probably buy something else.

You still want to be certain the real estate company selling your house runs ads in the local newspapers, whether they feature your house or not. The ads generate phone calls to the office, and since all of the agents have seen your property (if the company you choose does not have the office preview your property, they are making a big mistake!), they will be familiar with it and able to promote it to potential buyers.

It is still possible that someone calls on your house and buys it—you could be lucky!

It is important to realize that when a company advertises the homes they have for sale, there is more than one objective. Of course the real estate office wants to generate phone calls and sell houses, but the advertising also shows home sellers how effectively they market properties. This impresses not only you, but other potential sellers as well.

The advertising brings in more listings, which generate more ad calls, which produces more buyers, and that is how real estate advertising really works.

Individual Agent Advertising
Individual agents may advertise your home for the same reasons as companies do. They usually advertise in classified ads, neighborhood newsletters, or in specialty magazines featuring houses available for sale.

As in other types of advertising, these ads rarely sell your home. Again, the main goals of advertising are to accumulate homebuyers as clients, and to impress you and future home sellers with how well they market listings. Some agents actually do sell their own listings, but not that often.

It is much more productive and beneficial if your listing agent directs most of his or her marketing efforts toward other agents. Since this is “behind the scenes” marketing that you don’t actually see, it is often difficult for you to measure how hard the agent is working for you.

It is a mistake to measure your agent’s effectiveness completely by counting the number of newspaper and magazine ads featuring your property.

Open Houses
Open houses when your property is first placed on the market can be very important, but not for the reasons most homeowners think. Just like advertising, most visitors to open houses rarely buy the house they come to look at. They may not even know the price of your home when they knock on the door.

An open house performs a similar function to the neighborhood announcements—it lets all of your neighbors know that your house is for sale. If you are lucky, they may tell their friends about your house, creating more “word of mouth” advertising.

Of course, there are other reasons for holding open houses, too. Listing agents who “farm” a particular neighborhood use them as a chance to meet with other local homeowners who will someday be selling their home. Your agent may hope to list their homes in the future.

Open houses held after your home has been on the market awhile, do not generally serve a productive purpose in selling your home. Most of your neighbors already know your house is for sale and open house visitors rarely buy the homes they visit.

One exception, in my own personal experience, has been in our Leonard Leonard “themed” open houses. We typically do a Valentine’s Champagne and Chocolates, a Saint Patrick’s Irish Coffee, and a Fall Wine and Pate open house schedule with as many of our listings participating as possible. These are generally a HUGE success—in 2004, 5 of our homes featured at the St. Patrick’s Day open house were under contract within two weeks of the event. Such events get people talking which leads to more interest in your property, which can lead you to closing the deal!

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How Realtors are Compensated

It is important to understand how we, the professional real estate brokers at Leonard Leonard and Associates are compensated for our services to our clients.

When working for you, we are investing our time to help you sell or acquire a property. Time and knowledge are our greatest commodities. We receive no salary. Rather, we receive a portion of the commission paid to Leonard Leonard and Associates when your transaction has closed and the title has been transferred. If you do not close, we receive no fees, no matter how much work was done or how much money was invested in working for you.

After closing occurs, the real estate commission is divided. The first division is between the real estate companies participating in the transaction. Then the portion received by Leonard Leonard and Associates is divided with part being kept by the company and the remainder paid to the closing agent.

Out of their portion, Leonard Leonard and Associates, like all companies, must pay taxes, rent, utilities, and other business overhead. We professional sales associates, like all independent contractors, have expenses and overhead as well. We each pay our share of federal income taxes, self-employment tax, postage, computers, telephone bills, and if we have an assistant to help us take better care of you, their FICA taxes and other expenses.

We feel some of our most important expenditures are those to properly promote and market your property.

Here at Leonard Leonard and Associates, we continually strive to provide you with the highest quality professional services. Your loyalty to us is highly regarded. If you are satisfied with our work, the truest way to show your appreciation is to refer your friends and family to us so we can provide them with the same quality services you have enjoyed. It is the ultimate compliment and evidence of your gratitude.

Your loyalty and business are appreciated.


Jennifer Collins

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First Time Home Buyers Guide

If you are even thinking about buying a home…

Many sources document home ownership as the single best way to begin creating wealth. Historically, real estate has appreciated at a higher rate than the stock market. And even now, in the face of media coverage focusing on our market potentially being overvalued, overall home appreciation in the Denver area was over 7% last year! From an investment perspective, purchasing a home is a no-brainer—appreciation, tax incentives, and the building of equity are all important benefits of home ownership. With interest rates continuing to hover at near 40-year lows, now is the perfect time to get the most for your money. The table below clearly shows why it is to your advantage to be paying your OWN mortgage rather than renting and paying someone else’s!

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Do You Know How Much Rent You Pay?
(assuming a 5% annual inflation rate)

This brief guide is intended to provide basic information on the home buying process that you, as a first-time homebuyer need to know. The importance of being educated about this process can’t be underestimated—and ensures that for one of the biggest decisions you will ever make you are informed, comfortable, and ready!

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The First Step
1. Before you begin seriously looking…don’t quit your job or make any major purchases! Specifically, most lenders are looking to see that you have been in the same line of work for at least two years. So, if you are thinking about starting your own business or changing careers entirely, you would be wise to wait. Typically a job change within the same line of work is not a problem and could be very helpful if it is a promotion!

In addition, major purchases such as a car or an expensive wedding have a tremendous impact on your debt-to-income ration. Lenders look at the percentage of your monthly income in relation to your monthly debts (as well as your credit score) in order to determine how much of a loan you can qualify for. Clearly, a new car payment of several hundreds dollars per month can impact this percentage.

2. Begin gathering financial information such as bank statements, recent tax year returns, etc. Request a copy of your credit report so that you have an opportunity to be sure it is accurate or to have it corrected if necessary. Most lenders will ask you to provide bank statements for the past 2-3 months to verify that you have adequate funds to carry a mortgage and at least to pay the earnest money deposit. The amount of a down payment you use is very flexible, and closing costs are always negotiable so if you don’t have 5% ready to put down, don’t worry!

3. Talk to a lender you can trust!
There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect home and not being able to make the financing work. Talking with a reputable lender before you begin seriously looking at properties helps you to know how much you can comfortable afford to spend utilizing a variety of different loan programs (including adjustable rate mortgages, zero or minimal down programs, down payment assistance, etc.) as well as what to expect regarding mortgage payments, closing costs, etc. Interest rates, programs, and fees vary from lender to lender, so it is smart to do some shopping before you make a decision.

When you do find a property you decide to make an offer on, a basic pre-qualification letter from your lender is a must. Sellers won’t even look at your offer unless they have some idea that you are qualified to make the purchase! Many first-time buyers make a misstep here and find a great place but are unable to make an immediate offer without this letter—if a home seems absolutely perfect, you can bet someone else feels the same way so being able to act quickly is critical. The best homes (meaning best condition in the best location for the best price) go fast!

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Starting your search…

Once you know how much you can afford to comfortably spend, it is time to start looking for the perfect place! Most people at this stage do preliminary looking by driving through neighborhoods they like, seeing a sign, and calling for more information or to set an appointment to see the property. Many people also search online at sites like or What most people don’t know is that most of the time the realtor listed on a property sign is obligated to work as an agent for the seller. Obviously part of the goal from this perspective is obtaining the highest price possible for the property. The duty of the Seller’s Agent is to represent the best interest of the seller throughout the entire sale process.

Where does this leave you as a buyer? You can certainly call from a sign and have the listing agent show you a property. But, if you happen to fall in love with the house and want to make an offer, you are left somewhat on your own. The Listing Agent could write the contract for you and facilitate the process as a “Transaction Broker,” but would be held to a lesser standard in terms of duty and obligation to you than your own buyer’s agent. When acting as a Buyer’s Agent, a Realtor’s utmost loyalty is to you—when acting as a Transaction Broker, loyalty is to the transaction itself without being an agent or advocate for either party.

Aside from having the necessary tools like access to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and knowledge of neighborhoods, values, etc., the most important reason for you to have your own agent is to have someone working and negotiating as your advocate with your goals and best interests in mind. As part of the cost of selling their home, the seller pays the fee for both Listing Agents and Buyer Agents, so choosing a person you trust costs you nothing and provides priceless benefits! In terms of paying too high a price for a property, choosing a location that would be difficult for resale, or unknowingly getting stuck in a “money pit”, going it alone can cost you plenty!

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So you want to make an offer…

Once you find a place you would like to be able to call “home”, you are ready to make an offer. Of course, contracts are legally binding instruments and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Your agent should provide you with the most recent and relevant market information so that you are able to purchase the best home possible for the lowest possible price. Moreover, your agent should be able to answer any general questions you have regarding the contract. Having decided on a property is just the beginning of a multi-step process. While this is always a time of excitement (and yes, some stress!), the role of your agent should be to make this as smooth and stress-free for you as possible.

It is important to know that once you have made an offer on a property, you are basically beginning a process of negotiation. Typically the seller will counter your price. If a price is agreed upon and the contract proceeds, other portions of the process will require your attention such as being sure to provide all necessary items to your lender in a timely manner, obtaining homeowner’s insurance, inspecting the title work on the home, and having the property inspected by a reputable home inspector. The results of your home inspection often provide at least some information requiring further negotiating on your behalf (correcting problems with the roof, sewer line, or furnace, for example). Generally, resolving the issues that arise from home inspections is the biggest challenge to getting to closing. Again, this is a time when having someone with experience, contacts, and strong negotiating skills as your advocate is invaluable.

I love working as a Buyer’s Agent…

I take great pride in making the process of home buying as easy as possible for my clients. I am a former teacher and believe that your being well educated about both the market and the process are the most critical parts of creating a successful home buying experience. I am a very tough negotiator and work tirelessly for my clients to be sure they find the ideal home and pay the best price! I have assisted with home purchases in many of Denver’s central neighborhoods including Washington Park, Country Club, Congress Park, Uptown, City Park, Arlington Park, DU, Bonnie Brae, and Cherry Hills Vista. My clients receive the same care as did my students—tons of attention, ample resources to encourage informed decision-making, and motivation!

Please use my website,, to your advantage and visit my resource list of fabulous, reliable lenders, search the MLS, and check out Denver neighborhoods. I would love to help you find the perfect home!

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As a “transplant” from Virginia, I understand the details and stress involved in making a move. As a Realtor, I have assisted numerous people in their moves to Denver from all over the U.S. including Virginia, Tennessee, California, and Nevada. For most of these clients, the search for a place to live within the city began as a long-distance process. My goal is to be a complete resource for you in getting to know Denver and its surrounding neighborhoods like Downtown, Country Club, Washington Park, Highlands, Capitol Hill, Cheesman Park, Congress Park, Cherry Hills, Park Hill, and more. As a member of the e-PRO Certified Internet Expert network, I can also confidently refer you to agents throughout the country if you have a home to sell before you purchase here in Denver.

Helping determine exactly where you will be the most content as you make your move requires your actual presence! However, if you would like to start becoming familiar with Denver Real Estate and Central Denver Neighborhoods by receiving the latest listings in your price range that meet your general criteria, click here and sign up for my automatic e-mail system. It is better than other, generic real estate search websites in that all of the listings you receive are actually “active”—meaning if you fall in love with something, we can make it yours! You won’t be disappointed by searching listings, finding ones you like, and then discovering out that they are under contract and actually not available.

I love Denver—it’s history, architecture, cultural events, natural beauty, weather, and relaxed feel. I would love to help introduce you to the city as well!

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