Our Game Plan for Helping Clients Buy Real Estate

 

In most cases, we can adapt our approach to accommodate a home buyer’s specific needs and circumstances. We’ve worked with many clients who were trying to buy properties in Boulder County, but had to operate from out of state. By sending photos and videos of promising properties, we’ve found that we can give these clients a reasonable basis for deciding whether or not to fly out to see a property first hand. For clients who are local, but have limited time to spend looking at properties, we are happy to preview properties to select those that most closely meet the client’s needs.

But most of our buyers live locally while they are looking for a new home and most prefer a more active role in reviewing, selecting, and viewing properties. We prefer it as well. It is only through this kind of active participation in the process that buyers can develop the market knowledge and experience they need to make well grounded decisions when the right property comes along.

Communities We Cover

While our office is located in Boulder, Colorado, we routinely work for clients searching for houses, condos, townhomes and other types of real estate across a wide area including the following counties and communities:

  • Boulder, Nederland, Louisville, Gunbarrel, Niwot, Superior, Lafayette and Erie
  • Longmont, Lyons, and Berthoud
  • Broomfield, Westminster, and Arvada
  • Boulder County, Broomfield County, Western Weld County, Northern Adams and Jefferson Counties

Our Team Approach

Most real estate agents — especially those who work primarily with buyers — work on a one to one basis with their clients. At Agents for Home Buyers, we work as a team because it allows us to provide better service while still maintaining the strengths of the traditional one to one agent-client relationship. Our clients gain from having the benefit of several perspectives on homes, neighborhoods, and the local market. More concretely, they benefit because “their agent” can be in two places at once. When working alone, EBAs are constantly running into situations where their commitments to one client interfers with carrying out their commitments to others; having to cancel showings with one buyer if the “perfect” property showed up on the MLS for another or not showing the “perfect” property to a buyer in time.   In a market where the best properties can sell within a day or two (see Local Real Estate Stats), a delay like that can be disastrous. With our team approach, we can almost always find a way to get the client into the property and get an offer put together when that needs to get done. With a small, dedicated team, we can simply do a better job of taking care of our clients when they need it

The Initial Conference

If at all possible, we try to begin work with a potential new client with a 1-2 hour meeting where we can talk through your goals and explain how we would help you work toward them. We strongly prefer to hold this one to two hour meeting at our office so that we can access relevant materials as questions arise. The meeting is designed to give you a feel for who we are and how we work. We also try to give you some perspective on how your housing goals match up with what is available in the local market. We’ll talk about what you’re trying to accomplish and the time frame within which you want to do that. We’ll give you our perspectives on how difficult it will be to achieve your goals and we’ll suggest alternatives if necessary. We’ll talk about the purchase process, what you need to do to prepare, and what we can do to help. We will talk about buyer agency, our company, and how we work on a day to day basis. You should come out of this meeting with a clear picture of what you’ll need to do to buy a home in the Boulder or Denver area market. You will also leave with ample information to help you decide if you want to work with us or not. We will review the buyer agency contract with you at this first meeting, but we will not ask you to sign it. This is an important document that you should review on your own, or with your attorney, once we’ve explained it to you.

Mapping Properties

With most of our clients, we begin the home search process (see Finding a Home) by printing out detailed information on all the properties that seem to match their needs and plotting those properties on maps. As soon as we have a clear picture of what you can afford — and a reasonably clear idea of what you would like to buy and where — we will put together maps locating the relevant properties for you. In addition to properties that are currently available for sale (i.e., “active” properties), we include properties that are under contract and properties that have closed or sold within the past 6-12 months. We include properties that have gone under contract because these properties are generally the better ones in a given neighborhood and price range. If you take the time to drive by all the currently active properties that meet your search criteria, as well as those that are under contract, you’ll get a good feel for the types of homes that are available to you in your price range and for the neighborhoods where they are located. If you take the time to drive by the properties that have sold over the past several months, you will gain an even richer understanding of your niche in the real estate market. You’ll see how many houses have sold in your preferred neighborhoods during that time frame (e.g., 2 a month or 10 a month) and get a sense of the characteristics and quality of these homes. You’ll also have data on how quickly they sold and how close the selling price was to the asking price.

Using the Maps

Before you head out on your own, we will sit down with you and review the maps and the properties we’ve located. In some cases, there may be several hundred properties plotted on these maps. By sitting down and reviewing the maps with you, we can give you some perspective on the communities and neighborhoods where relevant properties are coming up in your price range and on the kinds of homes that are showing up in these neighborhoods. We can even help you go through the properties and help you select homes that you may want to get inside of and see first hand. Most of our clients, however, prefer to begin by taking these maps and driving through these neighborhoods and driving by these homes. A thoughtful — if sometimes exhausting — weekend devoted to this process will help many clients develop some very clear ideas about the communities and neighborhoods where they want to focus their home search. Because these maps provide a six to twelve month window into the market niche our client has defined, our clients often develop a better understanding of their market in a single weekend with these maps than they would have in six months without them.

What Do the Maps Look Like?

Take a look at the following sample maps and listings to get a feel for how this works. These maps represent the results of a search we ran for a client in the mid 90s who wanted to find a home in Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette. The client was looking for a single family home priced between $300,000 and $450,000 that had a minimum of 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a 2 car garage. Our search of the MLS system resulted in matches of 78 active listings, 50 listings that were under contract, and 143 listings of homes that had sold in the past 6 months. If you take a look at this street level map, you’ll see how a few of these listings were mapped and labeled. Notice that the house shaped icons that locate the properties are either green, blue, or red in color. The green icons represent active listings, the blue represent homes that are currently under contract, and the red represent the homes that have sold over the past 6 months. Each of the homes is designated with a label in the following format:

  • A20_353K_641 W Locust Ct

The “A20” indicates that this property is Active (A) and that it is #20 of 78 in the stack of active listing sheets. The “353K” indicates the price of the property. And “641 W Locust Ct” is the home’s street address. These street level maps make it easy to drive up to 641 W Locust Court and flip to #20 in the stack of active listings so that you can review the published details about the home while you’re sitting in front of it. We even provide you with a Map Index which allows you to thumb through the stacks of listings and then locate what look like interesting properties on the maps. The listings are printed on green (active), blue (contract) and red (sold) paper to correspond with the color coding on the maps. If you find an active property that you’re interested in, the maps and color coded listing sheets make it easy to look at recent sales in the area so that you can get a sense of whether the pricing of the home seems reasonable. See sold listing #78 on this street level map for example. As an aid to navigating the street level maps, we also provide an overview map covering your full search area as well as more detailed community level maps of your market niche. These will help you navigate from one part of your search area to the next and to see how the street levels maps are related to each other.

These overview maps can also provide extremely valuable information about the various communities and neighborhoods in your search area. If you look at this overview map for example, you’ll see that nothing has sold in west Boulder matching these search criteria in the past 6 months. If this buyer wants to live in west Boulder, they’ll need to change their search criteria, either by increasing the price range or cutting back on their requirements for the home. Conversely, you’ll see many neighborhoods on these overview maps where nothing is currently on the market even though many homes have sold or gone under contract recently. These may be the best neighborhoods for the buyer to watch for new listings as they come on the market. These maps can also give you general information about the dynamics of various sub-markets in your market niche. For example, if you look at the concentrations of house icon colors on these maps, you can see that the ratio of active to sold homes is much higher in Lafayette (i.e., maps 12, 13 and 14) than it is in Boulder (i.e.,maps 2-6) or Louisville (i.e., maps 8-11). Effectively, these overview maps provide geographic data on your market niche that can help you see important patterns and relationships that you may never have become aware of otherwise.

Getting Inside Some Homes

To get a real feel for the homes that are showing up in your preferred neighborhoods and price range, you need to get inside and walk through them. Walking though homes helps you think through the kinds of options that are available to you and what you like or don’t like about them. Just as driving by the mapped homes helps you focus on the neighborhoods that you’re most interested in, walking through a wide range of homes helps you think about the size and style of home that works best for you. In principle, you might find your dream home in the first day or two of your home search, but given how quickly the best homes in our market go under contract this generally isn’t what happens. Our goal during our first day or two that we’re actually looking at homes with you is to give you a feel for the market at a richer level and to help you think through your options, both by giving you some very concrete things to think about and by talking through these options with you as we’re going through them. Therefore, we recommend that we begin by selecting 10, 20 or even 30 properties that look good to you, including both properties that are available and properties that are under contract. We’ll go through these properties together in several 3-4 hour sessions. This means that we usually spend only about 10-15 minutes in each home during this initial phase in the home search, but that’s usually plenty to give you a feel for the range of options that are available to you. If you’re really interested in any of these homes, we’ll go back for a closer look later

The Focused Home Search

Assuming that you won’t find your dream home in these first few days, we then begin a more focused search process. We will check for new listings in the MLS (i.e., the Realtor database of homes for sale) at least once a day. We will also try to monitor properties that are being sold by owner and by home builders. We will e-mail or fax the information on these new properties to you as it becomes available. If something looks especially attractive, we will follow up the fax or email with a phone call. If a property looks like it is really on the mark, we will try to get out and look at it with you the day it hits the market. If we take a more relaxed approach, waiting a day or two until things are more convenient for you or for us, someone else may buy the better properties before you’ve had a chance to look at them. Finally, if we locate a neighborhood (or a condominium complex) that you’re particularly interested in, we often mail to the owners of properties in that neighborhood to see if we can find someone who is thinking of selling a property that might fit your needs. In a word, we will work hard to follow every available avenue that might lead to your new home (See Finding a Home).

Offer to Contract

Once you’ve found a home that you think you want to buy, we’ll help you evaluate the property and put together an offer. We won’t tell you whether to make an offer or not. Nor will we tell you what price you should offer. But we will help you evaluate the positive and negative features of the property, point out any problems that you may have on resale, and put together the information you need to determine whether the property is priced reasonably or not. In consultation with you, we will then draft the offer and get it submitted to the listing agent or owner as soon as possible. Some buyers will get an attorney involved to review the offer at this point, though this is not standard practice in Colorado (see Attorneys). If the seller doesn’t accept your offer as written — which they generally don’t — we will get written counteroffers back from the seller. We will help you evaluate and respond to these counteroffers as well. If we have to do this work at 6:00 AM or 11:00 PM, we’ll do it. We’ll give you 100% in order to minimize the chances that you’ll lose your dream home to another buyer.

Getting from Contract to Closing

Once you have signed a contract with an owner to purchase a home, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that this is a good purchase for you and to make sure that we get to closing without significant headache or heartache (see Under Contract). We will arrange the home inspector and negotiate repairs, get important information to your lender and make sure they are doing their job, review important documents coming from the title company, and make sure the appraisal gets done on time. We will work with you to make sure you understand what we need to do in order to get this job done right and we will monitor the process on a day to day basis to minimize the chances that serious problems arise. This is another context in which the team approach is critical. You’re in trouble if your agent is busy — or on vacation — when crunch time hits. With our team approach, you’ll have an agent you know and are comfortable with and an agent who will be there to take responsibility to make sure things are done and done right.

The Closing

Most buyers have heard horror stories about real estate closings. Indeed, many have lived through one or two of these disasters themselves. But if the professionals involved have done their jobs honestly and carefully, most closings are uneventful affairs. We will help you prepare for the closing process, and we’ll work closely with the title company, your lender, and the listing agent to make sure that the closing is a safe, smooth and straightforward process (see Preparing to Close and The Closing). We will walk through the home with you prior to closing to make sure everything is in order and we will meet you at the title company for closing to ensure that the paperwork is in order and that you have someone there to answer your questions and represent your interests. It is our job to represent you and your interests from start to finish. Helping you through the closing process is an important part of that commitment.
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