Monday, September 7, 2015

Real Estate Doublespeak

Seems like I just get used to all the lingo they use out here in Kommifornia, and now I have to learn a different set of rules for Colorado!

At least they seem, how do I say it......"more honest" than here in LaLa Land.

Still, *all* the real estate websites have some things in common that I've noticed, starting with the photography used.

1) They Photoshop the living daylights out of the pictures in regards to brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation. I've seen pictures of places that remind me of some of the things I'd seen on Friday or Saturday nights when I was in college!

2) They use wide angle lenses that make a 9x9 room seem HUGE. And I've seen some traces of the artifacting that results from using a fish-eye lens with the software used to "straighten out" all the distortion that occurs.

3) And I've seen some very good, tasteful photography that shows a property beautifully without being all hit-you-in-the-face gonzo about it.

One thing I learned is that if the basement is "finished", the additional square footage of the basement is included in the square footage of the house. I stumbled across this by accident when was looking at some of the "fine print" in the online listings.

I was wondering why a 3br 2ba house had 2400 square feet when the pictures and room dimensions didn't seem to indicate anywhere near that number.

Ahhhh.....there's an additional 900 sq ft of finished basement included!

And since most of the house have basements, there's more emphasis on how "oversized" the garages are.

To me, and "oversize" garage is a separate 30'x40' structure out back!

With two roll-up doors, a couple of entry doors, and some nice windows....

Still, most of the garages seem decent, except for those poor houses that only have a one-car attached garage.

Unless they're on a 12,000 sq ft (or bigger) lot, and there's enough room on one side to put in a driveway leading to a "Dr. Jim's Workshop" out back (I'm pricing Armstrong Steel buildings, just in case), those get crossed off the list.

And I've also seen the prices dropping on the properties I've tagged to watch. Some of the ones I tagged at $350k have come down to $300k, while some that started at $285k have dropped to $250k. Unless something was seriously misrepresented on the real estate websites, it looks like homes aren't selling super fast in the Fort Collins area.

Meanwhile, here in the Land of Fruits and Nuts, our little 3br 1ba 1170 sq ft house  has an "estimated" value of between $410k and $450k!

If we had a second bathroom, you could tack another $15k on that.

At this point in time, if we sold, we'd walk away with about $185k of "profit" after the dust settled. That would make a really nice down payment on a $300k house.

Since my wife is 18~24 months out from retirement (it takes the school district 45 days to generate an estimate of your retirement earnings!), I just hope, pray, and cross both my fingers and toes that "The System" hangs together long enough for us to make a graceful transition.

Time will tell, I guess.......


  1. What part of Colorado?

    My experience in these matters is not significant, however going to CO or wherever and kicking the tires on the new homes - particularly as it applies to neighborhoods (good/bad, etc) makes all the difference. Once you've done that, the listings make more sense. The bargain home that looks cool on the website usually has blemishes that are not disclosed - a junk yard next door that's covered by a metal roof so it doesn't show up on Google Earth, etc.

    1. The Fort Collins area, specifically Laporte if there's something there we like when it's time.

      Oh, I'm real familiar with all of the pitfalls. Two of my best radio friends were Coldwell-Banker commercial agents, but knew a LOT about single-family residences.

      Before I met my wife I was looking for something for just myself, and they walked me through the whole process, and gave me tons of tips about what to watch out for, things to check that aren't usually mentioned, places to look inside the house that are often overlooked, and many, many more.

      I'm no expert at it, but then compared to the "average" buyer, I know what questions to ask.

      One good thing about the Internet is you can see a term used that you don't know, and within ten minutes you know what it means.

      I had no idea what a "purged" home was, a term I'd seen used in the listings. It's "manufactured housing" (basically a mobile home, double-wide, whatever) that's been anchored down and highly modified so that the owner was able to "purge" the fact that it started as manufactured housing from the title.

  2. Does your wife have a "lump sum" option for her retirement? Might want to check into that as it could be better to pay off your new place rather than have another mortgage. I also would urge to you 'get 'er done' asap.

    1. I'm not sure if she does or not.

      Since she's in the infamous "CalPERS" system, I agree 110% that we take a lump sum if we can get it.

      It's what we did with my Boeing pension.

  3. Good luck. Hightail it for the hills as soon as you can.

    1. Yep, ASAP!

      She's waiting (it takes 45 days!) to get the estimates of how much they'll give her if she quits at the end of this academic year, or each of the next two.

      If the payout goes up significantly, she's going to stay. I just she doesn't stay "too long", and we can get out of here before TSHTF.

  4. Wishing y'all the best! And it 'might' be worth looking at selling NOW and renting until she retires... Just sayin...

    1. that's a thought.

    2. I talked to her about it, and she said rents are several hundred dollars a month higher than our mortgage payment, we'd have to find a place that would allow dogs, the cost of moving would be significant, and I probably couldn't have any antennas.

      Guess that settles it....we're staying!

  5. This interesting.....

    In looking at my "saved" properties on the ZipRealty website, I'm seeing homes selling for UNDER the asking price!

    A home listed for $220k went for $188k.

    A home listed for $325k went for $290k.

    Somebody commented here a while back that whenever there's a "bad" winter in the Fort Collins area, you'll see a more houses for sale the following spring then you normally would.

    Since last winter was a "bad" winter (but still NOTHING like I grew up with in Illinois), I wonder if this is happening?

  6. We live up in Laramie, WY and do some shopping in Ft Collins when we have to. Traveling down 287 at Livermore in the spring there are a bunch of for sale signs that go up. Owl Canyon and a couple of the other tie roads will have a number of signs as well. Doing a quick search on one of the MLS real estate sites there are a bunch of properties for sale north of Ft. Collins, I didn't realize that the prices were that high. N

    1. I've also heard that after a "bad" winter, a lot of immigrants from warmer places tend to pack up and leave, putting a lot of housing back up for sale.

      "High" prices are relative to where you are. The appraiser told us the other day that our little house was "worth" $480k.

      I think you'd have to be certifiably insane to pay $480k for a 3br 1ba 1168 sq ft house on a 5300 sq ft lot!


Keep it civil, please....

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