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  • Let’s Get to the Reali-tea of Down Payment Assistance!

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 7: Down Payment Assistance Buying a home for the first time can be terrifying! Let’s face it, a lot of people end up staying in their leased apartments way longer than is necessary because they don’t have the information they need to understand the process. Well, that’s not your job! It is so much easier than you would think to purchase a home, and all the information that you’ll need lies with your lender and your Realtor. We have spent the hours, days, months, even years of our time learning about all the ins and outs of buying and selling homes so that you don’t have to. Recently, I got to sit down with loan originator, Natalia Vecchiarelli, to discuss what a lender can do for you when it comes to first-time homebuyer programs and down payment assistance, and the fact that you don’t even have to be a first-time homebuyer to take advantage of the essential programs. Natalia works for Spire Financial on their Williams Team. She loves helping to fulfill her client’s dreams of homeownership almost as much as she loves breakfast burritos (check out her top ten list below). And the discipline and drive she learned as a competitive, nationally acclaimed figure skater and ice dancer have moved her quickly to the expert level of her particular niche. What’s stopping people from starting the process There are a number of factors that tend to stall prospective home buyers. There’s a general belief that the only way that you can buy a home is if you have 20% down on a new home in cash. Many people think they can’t get a mortgage if they still have student loans. Some people think they have to pay their lender/Realtor/broker upfront. All of these common misconceptions are untrue. In fact, the money that you’d traditionally have to put down to lease an apartment might be all you need to get into your own home. The fact is, the home buying process is confusing, and as Natalia mentions, “They don’t teach you this stuff in school.” That’s why it is the lender’s job to know all the details. A prospective buyer simply provides the lender with some key financial information and Real Estate goals, and that lender will inform the borrower/buyer of their options. How do I get started? The process is much more manageable than people think. You’ll basically be supplying the lender, and later your Realtor, with documents and information that they will use to create your loan package and find you a home. It goes a little something like this- Talk to a lender! It is a lender’s job to take all of your information and find different options to suit your needs. They have the expertise on programs like Metro DPA and CHFA (Colorado Housing Finance Authority) and can layer those on top of FHA and conventional loans to get you into a home. They will want to look at your credit, income and goals and translate that into what you can afford and what program will suit you best. Get pre-approved! The pre-approval process takes as little as 24 hours. The lender will do a credit pull and request documents to prove income. In less than one day, you should know the amount you are pre-approved to borrow in order to purchase a home. You’ll also receive proof of that approval for your Realtor’s reference. First-time homebuyer courses These courses are required in order to take advantage of FHA loans and down payment assistance programs. They can be taken online and usually take about three hours to complete. Once you’ve received your completion certificate, you’ll go ahead and send that to your lender. Start looking for your dream home! Now that you know how much you can spend and how you’ll be paying, the fun part begins. Collaborate with your Realtor, describe your goals, wants and needs, and find that dream house! What are the guidelines for CHFA and Metro DPA programs? To qualify for a CHFA or Metro DPA program there will be a- Maximum allowable income Minimum credit score (around 620-640) Requirement of occupancy (meaning you cannot use down payment assistance for investment properties—primary residences only) Requirement of homebuyer education When do I have to pay back my down payment assistance? If you qualify and take out a CHFA loan, you’ll pay back the loan when you sell or refinance your home. If you qualify for the Metro DPA Grant Program, your loan will be fully forgiven if you remain in the home for 3 years without refinancing. What are the guidelines for FHA loans? Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are designed to help borrowers get mortgages and ensure that lenders are protected. They typically have lower credit score requirements (500) and request a smaller down payment (3.5%) than a conventional loan, therefore they are easier to qualify for. You’ll need- At least two established credit accounts (credit cards, car loans, personal loans, lines of credit) To be current with any federal debt or judgments, or any debt related to past FHA loans Can I still utilize lender credits? Lender credits affect your interest rate and closing costs. In essence, your lender will give you a credit to cover part or all of your closing costs in exchange for a higher interest rate on your loan. This means that you will have to bring less cash to the table when purchasing your home. However, if you are utilizing down payment assistance you are not eligible to take advantage of lender credits. Are these programs only available to first-time homebuyers? FHA loans are available to anyone purchasing their primary residence (or the residence that they will occupy). You can utilize first-time homebuyer benefits again if you are under a certain income and if you have not owned your primary residence in the last 3 years. The Reali-tea The reali-tea of the situation is that you might be able to qualify for the loans and programs that could get you into your very own home today. It is easier than you think and the first step is the easiest of all—call a lender! In the initial phone call, you’ll lay out your goals and your resources, setting the ball rolling toward the perfect package for your purchase! And if you aren’t quite ready, that lender will be able to inform you of what you need to work on (credit score and savings for sure!). Natalia would be honored to guide you on your path to financial independence. Reach her with a call, 720-205-2232, or email,, today! And when you’re ready to look for homes for sale in Longmont, CO, call me, Sarah Morrow, your expert Longmont Realtor. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, it may never come, and don’t you want to get out of the endless rent rat race? Allow me to hook you up with a fantastic lender, and let’s start perusing some Longmont homes in search of that dream house. Let my tenacity move you! To watch the most recent episode of Proper-Tea Time, Episode 7: Down Payment Assistance, subscribe to my YouTube channel. Every episode is chock full of all things Longmont, CO Real Estate. And while you’re here, check out my blogs Perks of Homeownership and Taking the Scary Out of Commercial & Small Business Lending. As promised! Natalia’s Top Ten Breakfast Burritos: 1. Bonfire Burritos 2. Blackbelly Breakfast Burritos 3. The Village Coffee Shop 4. Sam’s No. 3 5. Butcher Block Café 6. Rocky Mountain Coffee Roasters 7. The Pick 8. West Bound and Down 9. Sunny’s in Sunnyside 10. Araujo’s – Jefferson Park Thank you, Natalia!

  • Water Shares & Ditch Rights

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 5 Colorado’s topography has changed a lot over thousands of years, but its high altitudes along the mountain ranges and gradual slope all the way out to the eastern and western edges give it a unique ability to carry vital water far and wide. With human help, a network of rivers and ditches has fed the land, turning vast plains into habitable land, rife with agriculture. This transformation is due, in great part, to ditch riders. A ditch rider, or “a person who patrols and inspects irrigation systems and distributes water to farmers” according to Merriam Webster, works for a ditch company to maintain and allot the water from these strategic waterways. I got to sit down recently with my friend, and modern-day ditch rider, Bill Campbell, to discuss the intricacies of water shares and ditch rights here in Boulder County. Bill is the superintendent of the Boulder & White Rock Ditch & Reservoir Company. He likes to use the old title of ditch rider, a job that was traditionally done on horseback. His job is to help manage the use and storage of water and advise on the responsibilities of owning and using water shares. He also roams the land checking on and maintaining ditches, culverts and headgates, and dispensing allotted water. What is a Water Right? “A water right is a right to use a portion of the public’s water supply,” as stated in Colorado doctrine. Colorado applies a prior-appropriation system, or a “first in time, first in right” policy, to owning water rights, meaning that there are senior water rights holders whose allotments must be satisfied before less senior owners’ rights. Though it may sound simple, there are water rights going back into the 1800s, so it gets quite complicated. There are many elements that go into measuring the value of a water share. Location, transferability, yield, and state of the current water market all factor into how much your water is worth, and that worth will change each year. Buying a Property with Water Rights in Longmont, CO and Beyond Water is a hot commodity, especially here. When looking for land for sale in Longmont, CO, you want to make sure to know if there are ditch and/or water rights that are included with the property's deed transfer. Prescriptive Easement If there is a ditch on the property you are buying, there will most likely be a prescriptive easement, which means you will need to allow access to that ditch for maintenance and distribution. You cannot build anything that would block access, nor can you move or divert the ditch in any way. What do you own? Be sure to understand if you will own water rights, the changing worth of water, what that will entitle you to and when it will be available. There is a finite amount of water that flows from the top of the Rockies each year, and you cannot just remove water from the ditch yourself, it must be allotted to you. Water heads down the natural flow of Colorado’s waterways (ex: St Vrain Creek, Left Hand Creek, Boulder Creek, Big Thompson River, Platte River, etc.) and then is diverted, using headgates, and funneled into man-made ditches. When the snow vein has completely melted, the system is “out of water.” And without any water storage: when you’re out, you’re out! The irrigation season begins about the end of March, early April, and ends around the end of September. This may affect what you plant or use the water for. If you need additional water, you may be able to rent water from the district, municipality or another water user. What is the process? When purchasing a property for sale that has water rights, there will need to be a transfer of those rights to you via a stock certificate. According to the Boulder County website, “the water right must be identified and understood so that both seller and buyer can agree on what rights are to be conveyed in the transaction. A buyer must obtain as much information as possible about the water right to ensure that the seller has adequate title to the water right that they purport to own.” In order to obtain that information, you will most likely need to contact the county clerk and recorder’s office for detailed records. Then, “shares are transferred by completing an assignment form or slip assignment for the stock certificate. The Ditch Company will issue a new stock certificate and record the change of ownership in its stockholder registry.” This “should also be mentioned in the vesting deed so as to provide notice in a recorded instrument.” Ask questions Contact the water commissioner in your area to find out what company owns your ditch. Then, get to know the ditch rider and company they work for. They will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about your ditch and your water rights. You will also contact them to make your water orders and report any needed maintenance. Buying Water Rights When they are available, you can buy water shares. However, that doesn’t mean you can buy water and take it out of where it flows, you must be downstream from your water shares in order to utilize it. And you can’t buy water shares for yourself as an investment, it must be for use. Want to Learn More? Water is the stuff of life, and here in Colorado, it is also a hot asset! Make sure that you are aware of the responsibilities and benefits of any water or ditch rights attached to any property you are looking to buy. I’ve been boning up on my water share and ditch right knowledge since I bought my most recent property. I am the proud owner of ditch rights here in Northern Colorado and would love to help you understand your own! Let my tenacity move you and contact me, Sarah Morrow, today for more information or to search for Longmont, CO Real Estate! Subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch my discussion with Bill Campbell on the fifth episode of my show, Proper-Tea Time, where we discuss anything and everything to do with being a Realtor in Longmont! For more on homes for sale in Longmont, CO, check out these blogs on the Perks of Homeownership and Water Rights and Real Estate in Northern Colorado.

  • Hacks are for Hacks!

    I recently got a text from someone who knows about my Real Estate investing success asking for my best investing “hack,” and it got me thinking. As we race toward the inevitable end-of-year time crunch, I admit even I seek simple and efficient timesavers. However, when I think about “hacks” I think about shortcuts—and shortcuts aren’t solutions. Are you going to hinge a home buying decision (to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars with other people’s resources on the line) on my texted one-liner? My tricks and tips won’t fix and flip, pal! If there was a quick cheat for building lasting wealth, everyone would be rich! It is possible to flip a house and make $50k, it is possible to build generational wealth; but these achievements require learned skills, which require work, focus and time. I, for one, want the knowledge. I want the reps that build the skill. Don’t get me wrong, solving a common problem efficiently can be a blessing! But there is no magic pill for grit, longevity, wealth and success. These are reserved for those willing to put in the work, focus and time. Whether you want to build equity, flip a house, pay less in taxes, make a step-up purchase, start a business, generate passive income, pay down amortized debt or invest for high returns, it’s going to take work, focus and time. Unskilled is unskilled! As we embark on the season of chaos and set new intentions for the future, let’s remember to develop skills the old-fashioned way. I do have tips, epic solutions, good content and resources galore to support you in achieving your goals, but you’ve got to be willing to stay focused on the long game and learn. If you’re looking for the “hack” first, you might be heading down the path to becoming one. If you are ready to learn about investing in Longmont, CO Real Estate, contact me, Sarah Morrow. I have the resources and the drive to share. Let my tenacity move you! And for more on homes for sale in Longmont, CO, and the surrounding areas, subscribe to my YouTube channel where you can watch the latest episodes of Proper-Tea Time, my show interviewing experts on all things Longmont, CO Real Estate, or read my blogs We’re Not in a Bubble and Pros of Buying a New Build Home.

  • Taking the Scary Out of Commercial & Small Business Lending

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 4: Commercial & Small Business Lending Here in Longmont, CO, we pride ourselves on our small business community. Of course, the last year or two has not been necessarily kind to small businesses. However, there is help out there. Whether you are in need during a rough economic turn, are looking to expand, need a little help preparing for the holiday rush, or any other myriad of things, commercial and small business lending might be the right move. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or nervous about the idea—never fear! I’ve taken the “scary” out and broken it all down for you. What is commercial and small business lending? We tend to have this idea that business owners operate on their own created wealth or that of private investors, but that is just not true. To get a business up and running, most utilize commercial lending. Commercial lending is a “borrowing relationship” between a business and a financial institution. Essentially, a business can borrow money for startup costs, everyday business expenses, Real Estate or construction, operation costs, expansion, etc. Some types of commercial lending are a business line of credit, business credit card, construction loan, hard money loan, Real Estate loan or a Small Business Association (SBA) loan. These loans are generally more flexible than conventional loans, but their terms are shorter, between 1 and 5 years, unless it’s a commercial Real Estate loan. The rate a business owner qualifies for may also be a little higher than the rate that the same individual may qualify for on say their personal residence. Commercial lending is a great option for small businesses starting out because you get the money faster than with other loans, there’s no need to find investors and the interest is tax-deductible. However, established businesses can also take advantage of this type of lending when they need to expand, prepare for high volume seasons, or if they’ve hit hard times, like through this pandemic. Of course, commercial lending isn’t the right loan for everyone. You need to be sure that you’ll be able to make your payments. However, if you are concerned about the short term, you can usually extend the loan at a penalty that is laid out in your contract. There’s no need to be scared! I recently sat down with Drew Ballingham, a commercial lender at High Country Bank of Longmont. He has 20 years of lending experience and insists that it is not as scary as you may think to take out a commercial loan for your business. People often wait until the last minute to walk into a financial institution and ask for help, but there is nothing to fear! Longmont is rife with wonderful small businesses, some that have been hit hard recently, some that have taken off because of e-commerce. Whatever your situation, there is help out there and commercial lending is an option you should consider. Why it’s good to have a relationship with a lender Perhaps some of the fear of inquiring about a small business or commercial loan is because the bigger banks are more stringent and rigid. In the case of these types of loans, having a relationship with a smaller lender or an originator at a local branch means that you get to talk to someone who wants to work with you. They get to know you and your business and will go out of their way to discuss all of your options, find a way to meet your particular needs and do what they can to help you qualify. Not to mention, it’s nice to have an actual voice and face in front of you, rather than a computer screen. What do you need to qualify? To be sure, you’ll need to qualify for the loan, and that might be where the fear comes in, but it needn’t. When you pick a lender, they can advise you on what they’ll need and let you know if there is something that you need to work on. When in consideration for a loan, and depending on the type, you’ll need to provide several things to the lending institution. You can break them down into three main categories: cash flow, character and collateral. Cash flow The bank needs to ensure that you can repay the loan, so they are going to want to look at how long you’ve been in business or your business plan, annual revenue/projections, bank statements, tax returns, etc. Character Both your business and personal financial history and credit score will be considered. Include any relevant legal documents or anything from your personal or business background that shows good character. Collateral You can use hard collateral, like the Real Estate you currently own, vehicles, equipment, etc. or sometimes the lender will consider “contracts or assignment of future cash flow as collateral.” How to find your lender Drew finds that the main ways people are looking for commercial lenders and business funds these days are online or word of mouth. I always suggest asking for advice from friends, family and associates before taking your chances online. Mainly, you want to make sure the institution you choose has a good track record and that you get along with their staff and align with their values. Knowing that your lender wants to work with you and for your best interests makes a world of difference in your comfort throughout the process. And if you’re here in Longmont, CO, make an appointment at High Country Bank! I know and trust them! And they are exactly the type of commercial lender that will help you achieve your business goals. CHFA, SBA and government subsidies to help you More terrific resources for small businesses looking for commercial loans are programs through CHFA (Colorado Housing Financial Authority) or the Small Business Administration (SBA). These programs often work through affiliated lenders and help take some of the pressure off of small businesses. Your lender can guide you to any of the subsidies that you qualify for and will aid your business. The reali-tea is… There’s no need to fear a commercial loan! You’re only standing in your own way if you do. We all need help to get our ideas on their feet, especially right now. Take advantage of the money that is out there to get your business up and running or keep it thriving! If you happen to be looking for Longmont, CO Real Estate, I’m the Realtor for you! Contact me, Sarah Morrow, today, and let my tenacity move you! And if you are looking for a commercial or small business loan, be sure to contact High Country Bank. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch monthly episodes of Proper-Tea Time, my show on all things Real Estate in Longmont, CO and beyond. And for information on Longmont homes, check out my blogs Why Longmont? and Your Home’s Value. Resources and References:

  • Perks of Homeownership

    Here’s a friendly reminder of what there is to gain by owning property! This is a message for renters, investors and homeowners alike, but first— For renters Not only are you paying down someone else's mortgage when you're a tenant, but you can never really catch up to those who have been building fast equity all around you for years. Make that change and start looking into options to buy your own home. For investors I just went under contract on a fixer-upper in Denver, CO with some fellow Real Estate investors and it's an exciting, creative acquisition strategy with an awesome return. This is something I'm passionate about so reach out to me if you want to do this, too. I would love to share about the investment community that I'm plugged into. If you’ve been looking to invest in property, especially in Longmont and the surrounding areas, there is no time like the present. For sellers If you're on the fence about selling your home, we're still averaging 104% of asking prices despite the cooling down of the temps—pun intended—and inventory is a little higher than usual for this time of year. It has been a seller’s market, and it continues to be. Waiting doesn’t mean there will be a bigger profit down the road, take advantage of the market now. For buyers Let’s talk about brand new homes. Prices of new builds are rising fast. They go up with every building phase, and developers in Colorado simply can't build fast enough to keep up with the demand. The best time to buy one of these might have been four years ago, but the second-best time is right now. Not only are these high-efficiency gems gaining tens of thousands in equity before buyers are even moving into them, but they appreciate like crazy. New builds are always really sought after. If you've got a good Realtor, you can get into one by the end of the year, which is when these large-scale companies want to get all their inventory and phases off the books. So, due to tax reasons, you could get a discount. For everyone looking at Longmont, CO Real Estate options! Whether it's primary ownership, investing, selling or buying, get yourself educated and get into action. Don't wait till you're old! Don't wait till you're a little bit richer! Now is the time to sell for a great return, and you will find something on the buy-side if you make a move before the year ends. I can offer world-class education tools, help with your search or give you a free evaluation, but you've got to let me know your needs and then let my tenacity move you! Contact me, Sarah Morrow, today to learn more about investing, selling, or buying homes in Longmont, CO and the surrounding areas! And for more on the pros of buying new build homes near Longmont, CO, watch Episode 3 of my show, Proper-Tea Time, entitled Buying New in Firestone/Frederick. Subscribe to my Youtube channel for frequent videos about Longmont, CO Real Estate. And for more information on buying take a look at my blogs We’re Not in a Bubble and Your Home’s Value.

  • Pros of Buying a New Build Home

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 3: New Build Homes Near Longmont, CO In this episode, we’re talking about the advantages of buying new build homes! I recently had the chance to sit down with Realtor and Managing Broker with Sellstate Peak Realty, Brett Felz, to discuss. Brett not only knows the positives from a professional standpoint, but he recently moved into a new build in Frederick/Firestone, just outside of Longmont himself. The Buyer Triangle The first thing to think about for any buyer when looking for homes for sale is the Buyer Triangle. The Buyer Triangle focuses your wants and needs so that you can settle on the key factors necessary for you in your new home. Sometimes a new build might not be in the exact location that you’ve been dreaming of, but if the amenities are outstanding and the price is on the mark (and you’re gaining equity before you’ve even moved in!), that location may be well worth it. You’re not likely to ace all three of these, so prioritizing this way saves buyers of any type a ton of time! What is a new build home? Now, before I get into the benefits of new builds: What is a new build home? A new build is a newly constructed home. When you buy a new construction home, you’ll be the first-ever occupant. This baby is brand new! Pros of Buying a New Build House: Building a community Starting off in a new build community means that everyone is on the same page. All of your neighbors have arrived within the same phase that you have, and you get to learn and grow together. It’s not only great for bonding with your community, but you’ll be on the ground floor of establishing how that community will run. Brand spanking new! Did we mention this home is brand new? All of the major appliances, mechanicals, big ticket items and features are straight out of the box. Now, this doesn’t mean that nothing can break, but the chances are a lot slimmer than with a previously-owned home. Customization: Without having to make that list of things to fix, you can focus on customization. Put in a nice deck or patio, get those heated bathroom floors, fancy up the place with some crown molding and built-ins or splurge on a landscape artist. Make that house yours! Maintenance: You’re also going to be saving on basic maintenance for a lot of years. Put that money away for a nice vacation or the kids’ college fund! Save on utilities Newly built homes are more energy-efficient, which means you save on your energy bills. The quality of windows, door seals and insulation has improved drastically over the years. This makes it easier to heat and cool your home, thus saving you moolah. No need for a bidding war With new construction, you aren’t in competition to outbid another buyer. The pressure, especially in this market, to overbid or waive contingencies is off the table. You may be waiting longer to move into your new house, but you won’t have to engage in a nerve-wracking and expensive bidding war! Amenities New communities are designed with residents in mind. This means that they typically come with a ton of amenities that you’re not going to get with a home in a patchwork neighborhood. You’ll probably get access to a modern park, a pool and clubhouse, and new schools that are right down the street, just to name a few. Built in appreciation Whether you buy new or previously owned, a home’s appreciation works at the same rate. It comes down to two factors: Local supply and demand Interest rates However, when you get into a new construction development early, your property will appreciate when each new phase of homes is built. This means that before you’ve even moved in, your home will have appreciated, giving you more equity. This appreciation is built-in as long as they are still selling newer homes within your development for a higher price each time. 4th Quarter “Discount” In the 4th quarter of the year, developers are looking to get as much of their inventory off their books as they can. For the buyer, this means they’re willing to let new builds go at a better price. And if you’ve got a great Realtor (like me!), you can take advantage of that discounted price to get into a beautiful, brand-new home in the New Year! Time to buy! Now that you’ve decided that you’d like to look for new build homes for sale in Longmont, CO, it’s time to give me, Sarah Morrow, a call! I can help you find the right community for you and your family, and I want you to consider looking a little bit east. Frederick and Firestone new build Real Estate Frederick and Firestone’s population is around 34,000 today, but twenty years ago, it was a quarter of that! Frederick/Firestone has been blowing up the last 7–10 years because they’ve got the space to architect savvy, modern housing developments. You’re still close to Longmont, Boulder and Denver, but you get more house for your money and all the advantages of a new build community. If you’re ready to look at some houses for sale in Longmont, CO (or the surrounding areas, of course!) contact me today and let my tenacity move you! Also, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for monthly episodes of Proper-Tea Time, my show on all things Longmont, CO Real Estate! For more information on new builds or the current market, please read my real estate blog on Perks of Homeownership and Your Home’s Value

  • Be a Survivor!

    Survival seems to be the latest theme in my world—but let's be honest, “survival mode” isn't really sustainable and we Real Estate professionals simply must avoid it and play the long game. Growing up with teachers for parents made the transition from summer into fall always feel a little like “survival mode” and a second New Year's Eve smushed together. With new seasons come market shifts and new intentions, and what’s not exciting about that? But the trick is not to inadvertently slip into a survival-mode reaction. Speaking of teachers, intentions and survival reminds me of my high school homeroom and physics teacher, Bob Crowley, or “Survivor Bob,” as you may know him. He retired from teaching and went on to become the oldest person ever to win the television show Survivor at age 57. It's been a decade since that happened, but Bob is still known for outlasting his alliance, winning numerous challenges and for the subtle, yet fatherly, gameplay that led him to victory. Bob is not only a true survivor and a quintessential renaissance man, but he was my first entrepreneurial role model. He would constantly tell stories in class about being the first mate on a research boat for the Smithsonian, being an entomologist for the USDA, a skunk relocator, an archaeologist, a lobsterman, a forester, a professional hunter, a physicist, a Boy Scout, a Real Estate investor, an off-grid sustainability enthusiast, the president of the Teacher’s Union and thankfully, he was also a close friend of my dad—so he was a father figure and a mentor to me in some pretty formative years. Bob has since become a best-selling author and continues to tinker but at a celebrity, multi-millionaire level. He not only taught me about strategy, critical thinking and creativity but also about being resourceful and believing in myself. When I get into “survival mode” I tend to have tunnel vision, and both my life and my business become very status quo, uncreative and judgy. While visiting Maine last month, where I'm from, I had the privilege and pleasure of visiting Survivor Bob's Maine Forest Yurts, a short-term rental business. Once I gave up my, “Who would drive to middle-of-nowhere Maine to sleep in a yurt in the winter?” attitude, I realized Bob, of course, had built a sanctuary of nature, coziness, adventure, networking, mushrooms, bees and life. And of course, in the process, he's established a magical, cash-flowing, green empire from a run-down old farm that most of our Mainer eyes weren't even open enough to notice. Bob’s versatility and presence of mind were a great reminder for me to keep my eyes open, to give up judgment and to stay positive. He reminded me that seeking opportunity, developing an abundance mindset and nurturing that creative and entrepreneurial spirit brings on much better travel experiences, and experiences in general, than sticking to my comfy routines and my boring middle-class habits. Most importantly, Bob reminded me that “survival mode” and a survivor mindset are two different things. Bob’s mindset is to find every way to survive and thrive in every market and intention shift, not to shut down and simply “survive.” Let’s all take some inspiration from Survivor Bob, and instead of simply surviving these market shifts, let’s find creative ways to prosper during them! Let my tenacity move you! If you’re looking to pick up some Longmont, CO real estate this fall season, I’m the Real Estate agent for you! Contact me, Sarah Morrow, about homes for sale in Longmont, CO. And for more on all things Longmont homes, subscribe to my YouTube channel to find episodes of Proper-Tea Time or read further with these blogs: We’re Not in a Bubble and Why Longmont?

  • Your Home’s Value

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 2 There have been some changes and surprises over the last 18 months, so let’s discuss trends and home values here in Longmont, CO. With evidence from Kyle Snyder of First American Title, I want to answer your burning questions, like: Is the market is slowing down? Is this what historically happens this time of year? What’s so great about Longmont? And should I sell or wait? (I’ll give you a hint now—sell)! 1. Is the market slowing down or are things still hot, hot, hot? People have voiced concern that the market is beginning to show signs of slowing down. Though things were scorching in May and June, the Longmont real estate market is still hot! In August of 2018, Longmont broke the $500k average home price record for the first time. In October of 2020, that record was broken for the fourth time. This year, however, we’ve seen record average home price statistics from April through July, where we reached over $630k. If we compare that to $502k from last July, it’s clear that the real estate market is still competitive. Additionally, the number of sales from the first half of this year is the same as the number of sales from the first half of last year, which hit a record high. It is important to remember to look at long-term statistics and not try to interpret monthly numbers as trends. The current real estate market is active and very competitive, partly because there is still a huge shortage of homes in the United States. This is largely due to general population growth and the transitioning of millennials from apartment living, to becoming first-time homebuyers; currently, 5.5 million homes are needed. Now, that doesn’t mean that certain things aren’t cooling off...slightly. Houses are sitting a little bit longer on the market. Moreover, the list price to sold price ratio has decreased. Starting in April of 2021, the list/sold price was at 105%. It peaked in May at 108%, and then slowly lowered with June at 106%, July at 105% and then August at 103%. But that is still 3% over asking we are talking about, which isn’t too shabby. Remember, the biggest mistake we consistently see sellers make is over-pricing their homes. List competitively! This avoids appraisal issues, and you might be pleasantly surprised at the offers you receive. Trust me! 2. Are the trends holding true? When it comes to both blips on the radar and dependable shifts, you can trust the current data. The market used to take a breath at the end of summer and in the early fall as school started and the weather changed. This is a trend that has been reliable for decades. However, it hasn’t happened in the last couple of years, and now that the trend has resurfaced, people seem nervous. Well, you’ve heard it here first—there’s no need to be nervous! This is the usual trend, we just haven’t seen it in a while. And frankly, they really haven’t slowed that much. 3. What’s so great about Longmont right now? Homes in Longmont, CO have been in high demand for 18 months now, and that has us wondering: What is so great about Longmont right now? As Kyle Snyder raves, “It’s the best, it always has been...It makes sense.” But why are people noticing it more recently? A lot of it has to do with the natural migration away from social centers that are getting too expensive. Boulder and Denver have major draws with universities, centers of economic interest, food & drink, etc. Yet, the median home cost in Boulder is over $1 million, and Denver isn’t far behind. As these locales get too expensive, people begin to look nearby. From Boulder, people moved to Louisville and Gunbarrel, then to Niwot and Lafayette. Now buyers are discovering that Longmont is not only affordable, but it has a flourishing food and craft beverage scene and is a Certified Colorado Creative District with theatre, art and music for all ages. We’ve got a stellar school district, plenty of public amenities and a beautiful “backyard,” so to speak. In addition, we are in proximity to both Boulder and Denver. As I say to my viewers, “It’s our time.” Longmont has been the “Most affordable town in all of Boulder County” for a stretch now, according to Snyder. The median home sale cost for Longmont is currently $584k, and it’s going to be a while before that gets to the $900k or $1 million range. Longmont is the place to be for the foreseeable future. 4. Should I sell? If you’re considering selling your home, get off the fence and do it! If you are waiting for the market to be red-hot, you might be waiting a while, and you’re likely to earn less and less as you wait. Don’t worry about missed opportunities. We don’t know what’s going to happen. How could we have expected that a pandemic would hit and the market would explode the way it did? However, when selling, be sure to plan your exit strategy because it may look a little different than in previous markets. Prices for properties are up—which means you’re going to sell for more money, but you’ll be buying for more as well. The pandemic has taught us we can work from anywhere. Where do you want to go? Do you want to work from a home in Florida? Or are you just looking to upgrade to a new home here in Longmont? In conclusion… The market is looking strong and competitive while adhering to a couple of tried and true trends. The value of your home is likely to rise while Longmont prospers as the bedroom community of the moment. If you are looking to buy or sell homes in Longmont, CO, contact me, Sarah Morrow, for a Realtor® you can trust. Let my tenacity move you! Be sure to check out Proper-Tea Time: Ep. 2 - Your Home’s Value, and follow the Sarah Morrow YouTube channel for more informative and fun real estate videos! And for even more on Longmont Real Estate, read up in my blogs Permitting and Down Payment Assistance

  • We’re Not in a Bubble!

    For as much gossip and trepidation as there is circulating in the current market, we're not presently in a housing bubble! There were three major causes of the 2008 housing crisis that we aren't currently facing: 45% of first-time home buyers purchased their starter homes in 2008 with zero dollars down. 78% of first-time homebuyers utilized adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) at that time, rather than fixed ones. We had a huge oversupply of inventory then. Today, the average down payment on a home is 16%. People are buying homes with equity. ARMs are very rarely utilized. And, what a dream an oversupply problem sounds like compared to the undersupply problem we’ve been facing. We're not in a normal market, by any means, but we're also not in a bubble. The fact that home values have grown consistently each quarter these days says that equity is growing and the number of foreclosures is not. Plus, the lending restrictions that came on the scene in 2012 ensure that we all qualify for loans based solely on our ability to pay. Borrowers today must have a more than acceptable debt-to-income ratio (DTI), real, provable income and good credit. These restrictions didn't exist in 2008. Frankly, they make buying harder for millennials, but they keep the market more stable. Over the course of the pandemic, we've seen a 59% decrease in inventory and an increase in buyers this year of 43%. Ours is a massive supply and demand problem. Fortunately, our low interest rates aren't going anywhere because they're driven by supply and demand; and unfortunately, this demand problem isn't going anywhere either (at least it isn’t projected to until 2022). Don't mistake today's climate and problems for something that happened under very different circumstances thirteen years ago. It's comparing apples to oranges. You'll only end up waiting, scared, confused and waiting for something to change. Ignore the busybodies screaming, “Bubble!” With a proper understanding of the current Longmont, CO Real Estate market, you’ve got everything you need to make a necessary move. Let my tenacity move you! And never forget, you’ve got a terrific partner in Sarah Morrow, your Longmont Realtor. If you’re looking to buy or sell your home in Longmont, CO, I’m your resident expert! Please stop by my YouTube Channel to watch episodes of Proper-Tea Time, my show on all things Longmont Real Estate. Or read some of my other blogs like Your Home’s Value and Unstoppable.

  • Why Longmont?

    Proper-Tea Time Episode 1 When I recently had a major, unexpected life change, I was faced with the opportunity to move to any city in the country and do anything I wanted to do; but I chose to stay in Longmont and stay a Realtor! So, why Longmont? Variety & Affordability Longmont, Colorado Real Estate has everything from small farms to urban lofts, historic homes to high efficiency new builds, and we still have the most affordable average home price in all of Northern Colorado. While prices have been skyrocketing for several years in Boulder, Gunbarrel and Louisville, Longmont has been able to maintain low costs and high appreciation due to our proximity to Denver, our recent, efficient expansions and our downtown developments. We can’t expand outward much more, but we are sprucing up what we have by utilizing unique properties and initiating innovative design. Maybe in the "new normal” you have the luxury of relocating away from a job site or corporate office. Maybe doing so will help you pay less for more house! Are you trying to get out of Boulder’s market? Or perhaps you’re getting out of Denver’s rat race? Perhaps it’s time to down- or upsize. The sheer variety and affordability of the Longmont market could be perfect for you. Quaintness & Proximity Longmont, Colorado has been named an All-America City by the National Civic League twice due, in part, to our authenticity and preservation of the original settlement. Longmont is rife with small, locally owned businesses. We are a standalone city of around 100k residents, giving a sense of independence while still in close proximity to neighboring towns and metro centers. Our ever-improving downtown is a major draw and it demonstrates our commitment to becoming a vibrant and dynamic community. Main Street, the heart of our downtown, is sprinkled with gorgeous, historic buildings. In fact, Longmont is a Certified Local Historic District. Lining the thoroughfare are old, brick facades, some of which have been standing since the original Chicago-Colorado Colony settled in the late 19th century. There is a well-preserved small-town charm that’s palpable when strolling along the sidewalks of our welcoming and inclusive community. The draw of Longmont is even stronger when you consider this quaint, yet lively, town’s proximity to a variety of other cities and terrains. Longmont is centrally located between Boulder, Denver and the Front Range. It is a short jaunt to get a complete change of scenery, while still maintaining its autonomy and individuality. Entrepreneurship Longmont has seen an influx of residents and businesses over the last 5-10 years. The spirit of community seems to be the culprit. Entrepreneurship in Longmont is alive and well and comes in all shapes and sizes. Our flavor is a combination of mom and pop shops, relocated businesses, tech start-ups, expansions from neighboring towns and new business ventures whose owners take advantage of the variety of attractive commercial spaces we can provide. The diversity and support from the community encourages the success of every member, culminating in the success of the city as a whole. Craft Drink & Food, Arts & Entertainment Owning Longmont Real Estate also allows you to take advantage of the booming food and craft beverage industry in Longmont. In the downtown area alone, there are several breweries, three distilleries and a cidery. The variety of cuisine can also compete, impressively, with our neighboring “old towns”. Some of our restaurants have even been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and the Travel Channel. The Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade has named Longmont a Certified Colorado Creative District because we meet their standard of financial contribution to our state’s economy through cultural and arts events and initiatives. In turn, we “increase jobs, incomes, and investments in creative places'' and endeavors. This nurturing spirit has created a town brimming with arts & entertainment for all ages for many years. On Main Street alone, you can find live theatre at The Longmont Theatre & Trojan Movie House and Jesters Dinner Theatre. There are also galleries galore and an annual ArtWalk hosted by the Firehouse Art Center. Longmont’s live music scene is estimable and this small town is chock full of local musical talent (yours truly included!). Whether you’re looking to step out for an open mic or a festival line up, in Longmont, you can find some excellent talent playing almost any night of the week. With great food, drink, theatre, art, music and an exciting craft cocktail scene, Longmont really has something to entertain everyone: singles, seniors and families alike. The best part? So much of it is easily walkable! Perhaps you’re not sure what you feel like doing tonight—take a walk downtown and see what’s happening because there is surely some fun to get into! School System The school system alone is a huge attraction for new residents. St. Vrain Valley School District offers open enrollment. Parents and students have the chance to choose the school that is best for them logistically, financially and preferentially, even if it is outside their attendance area. Additionally, there are a variety of academic focus programs available throughout the district including Pre-Collegiate Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), leadership, Core Knowledge, arts & language and experiential learning at The Innovation Center. Public Amenities Have we mentioned the vibrant community yet? Again, our access to gorgeous recreational facilities is a huge draw. Longmont leaders have been improving and developing public amenities for decades. As a result, we boast top-of-the-line community conveniences from our Longmont Public Library to the The Longmont Museum & Cultural Center. There are three, year-round, indoor recreation facilities offering everything from babysitting and classes to workout rooms and swimming for adults, children and seniors. Outside of the catalog full of services provided by the rec centers, active 55+ adults have their own Longmont Senior Center that provides clubs and activities involving the arts, sports, fitness, technology, etc. And it’s darn beautiful! From just about any point in Longmont, there are breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. Our parks, trails and open space give residents a reason to get outside and hike, bike, stroll, sail, paddleboard and fish. Parks and trails are well-maintained and active community meeting spots. Enjoy the stunning views from McIntosh Lake and Union Reservoir while you cool off on a hot summer (or fall!) day. Nature has a way of forcing us to take a deep breath and be present. Buying Longmont, Colorado Real Estate ensures that you’ll get the benefits of deep breathing every time you step outside your front door. Having a tenacious Longmont Real Estate agent in your corner! I’m an experienced, licensed Longmont Realtor who will advocate for your best interests and help you find exactly what you’re looking for. Why not make 2021 the year that you get into your Longmont, Colorado home? If you are looking for Longmont houses for sale, call or email me today and let my tenacity move you! Owning Longmont Real Estate allows you to take advantage of a quaint and inclusive community, a great school system and gorgeous open spaces; plus, we Longmonsters can easily escape to the mountains or metro centers. The lively character of our downtown, our safe neighborhoods and our spectacular views make Longmont the place to be to meet all of your needs. Want more? For more on Longmont Real Estate, check out my new show with Longmont Public Media, Proper-Tea Time, and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more fun glimpses into the biz! While you’re here, check out our blogs/episodes Perks of Homeownership and Pros of Buying a New Build Home.

  • Unstoppable

    Have you ever been unstoppable? Have you ever had to overcome multiple stumbling blocks just to achieve what seemed, in the beginning, to be a pretty modest goal? Let’s talk about quitting, or rather, not quitting. Yesterday was consecutive day six of mowing my acre-plus pasture. During a gorgeous sunset, I finally finished the job. “Mow pasture” was on my to-do list all month and I didn’t expect it to take twelve-plus hours, but the battery needed a jump, the gas needed to be swapped out and the fuel, oil and air filters were disgusting. I got it humming, but halfway through the two-foot-tall grass battle, the blades needed sharpening and the battery needed replacing. These last two tasks required tools that I didn’t have and it was 101 degrees outside. I wanted to give up. I mean, half-mowed beats not-mowed, right? An hour after bailing, with a sunburn and nostrils full of clippings, I returned to the owner’s manual and went back to the field to finish what I’d started. This time the battery jump caused a fire inside my mower melting two components. I was by myself over an acre from anybody. I was sprayed with sparks and scared, but I got through it. And I got right back in the saddle. Of course, then a stripped bearing resulted in a tire wobble that put me in a ditch underneath the mower; and while I was there, I realized the tires weren’t even close to the required PSI. Needless to say, when I finished the job I stepped back and said, “Wow! I did it! I did that.” How does this translate to Longmont, CO Real Estate? Well, let’s take a look at today’s home buying process, particularly for first time homebuyers. I had never tuned up a 2013 Craftsman Snapper NXT. I was as well-versed in that as a buyer is in starting down the ownership path for the very first time. Even some of my buyers who have purchased homes before are met, in this current climate, with appraisal gap coverage requirements, waived inspection proposals, inventory challenges, unreasonable sellers and stiff competition. These are sparks, and they’re scary, and they burn out even savvy buyers. So, of course, many rookies are tapping out; but waiting is quitting, and it’s only going to leave you in the weeds. The grass will keep growing, overtaking your quest for equity, and that grass is no greener on the “other side” of what we’re in. The time to own and start building equity is now. One obstacle at a time, you CAN qualify, we CAN find what you’ve been wanting and you CAN start benefiting from your hard work. You will look back and say, “I did it! I did that.” Let my tenacity move you! If buying or selling homes in Longmont, CO is on your to-do list or if you just need some tuneup tips, give this trusted Longmont Realtor a shout. And be sure to watch episodes of Proper-Tea Time, like Episode 4: Commercial & Small Business Lending, on my YouTube Channel for more on Longmont Real Estate! Next, read my blogs Be a Survivor and Hacks are for Hacks!

  • Water Rights and Real Estate in Northern Colorado

    Everything seems to be about water for me lately! Gardening, mowing, record rainfall, building a PVC pipe backbone at my property and of course, Spring! Unlike the coast of Maine, where I hail from, the water situation in Northern Colorado is big business and it’s becoming more of a hot topic. Water shares here are very valuable, but keep in mind that rights to water don’t always transfer with property. If you’re looking at a property where water rights are “included,” make sure you understand the transfer details because these rights are often misrepresented in listings and they're recorded separately from the deed that transfers the land and home itself. And in the case that the water runs underground, the rights to that water behave more like shares of stock than a useful commodity. Another tip: Very few of us Realtors understand the ins and outs of water ownership transfer, but some of us do have experience. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m experienced with transferring ditch rights and water shares, and I serve as Director for the Pennock Lateral Ditch Company here in Longmont. (I’m an aspiring ditch bitch). I’m also in the process of improving the irrigation system on my own property to maximize the use of ditch water at home. I figure those of us with the privilege should take advantage of what’s flowing down from the mountains and offset our city water costs in the process. Reach out with questions about water; it’s a fun niche of the business and what better time to learn about Northern Colorado’s most valuable resource than Spring? Let my tenacity move you! In fact, reach out with questions about anything to do with homes for sale in Longmont, CO! As your devoted Longmont Realtor, I’ve either got the answers or I know where to find them. And check out my YouTube channel for episodes of Proper-Tea Time, a show on all things Longmont Real Estate! While you’re here, take a gander at my blogs Water Shares & Ditch Rights and Your Home’s Value.

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