Playground and Winter Park Resort’s Real Estate Office welcome Nicola Dixon!

Leah | November 12th, 2012 | No Comments »

Our office is excited to welcome Nicola Dixon to our real estate team! With the ski season just two days away, stop by our office to meet our newest team member! To read more about Nicola, check our her bio here. She can always be reached at 970.531.3422 or at nicoladixon7@gmail.com.

October’s real estate deal of the month

Leah | October 17th, 2012 | No Comments »

Bank owned 1 bedroom with a full kitchen in Fraser Crossing listed for $219,900. Walk straight from your private deck to the hot tub and courtyard area. At this price, this listing will not last long! You can be in there just in time for ski season!

Conventional financing is available on this property, call me for details at 970.531.4723 

Check out more pictures here!

Pristine Mountain Home with views, acres and more!

Leah | March 6th, 2012 | No Comments »

This 6-bedroom, 4.5-bath estate sits within the gated community of Shadow Mountain Ranch in Granby, on nearly 36 acres. This log home has 3,640 finished square feet, was built in 2004, and has phenomenal views of the Continental Divide and the slopes of the SolVista Basin and the Winter Park Ski Resort.  It has three fireplaces, multiple gathering areas, a gourmet kitchen, an extensive wrap-around deck, an oversized, 2-car garage and many more fine details! We can’t list all the great details off the home, you’ve got to see it for yourself! Watch the video below!

Shadow Mountain Home

Housing Crisis to End in 2012 as Banks Loosen Credit Standards

Leah | March 2nd, 2012 | No Comments »

Capital Economics expects the housing crisis to end this year, according to a report released Tuesday. One of the reasons: loosening credit.

The analytics firm notes the average credit score required to attain a mortgage loan is 700. While this is higher than scores required prior to the crisis, it is constant with requirements one year ago.

Additionally, a Fed Senior Loan Officer Survey found credit requirements in the fourth quarter were consistent with the past three quarters.

However, other market indicators point not just to a stabilization of mortgage lending standards, but also a loosening of credit availability.

Banks are now lending amounts up to 3.5 times borrower earnings. This is up from a low during the crisis of 3.2 times borrower earnings.

Banks are also loosening loan-to-value ratios (LTV), which Capital Economics denotes “the clearest sign yet of an improvement in mortgage credit conditions.”

In contrast to a low of 74 percent reached in mid-2010, banks are now lending at 82 percent LTV.

While credit conditions may have loosened slightly, some potential homebuyers are still struggling with credit requirements. In fact, Capital Economics points out that in November 8 percent of contract cancellations were the result of a potential buyer not qualifying for a loan.

Additionally, Capital Economics says “any improvement in credit conditions won’t be significant enough to generate actual house price gains,” and potential ramifications from the euro-zone pose a threat to future credit availability. DSNews, Krista Brock

Fantastic 1 bedroom at the base of Winter Park Resort

Leah | July 22nd, 2011 | No Comments »

 Check out the photos from this one of a kind one bedroom condo at the base of Winter Park Resort. Located in Founders Pointe, this condo is just steps from the Zephyr Lift and a stone’s throw to Winter Park Resort’s Village which is fully equipped with great shops and restaurants. Listed at just $269,900, this condo is one of the few condos in the building that has direct access from its deck out to the amenity patio that features a hot tub built for 30, a grill, fireplace and beautiful views of the slopes.  Call or email Leah today for more information!

Leah Bishop- 970.531.4723 lbishop@playground.com

5 Questions to Ask Your Mortgage Professional

Leah | July 22nd, 2011 | No Comments »

By: Tara Nelson

Everyone knows you’re supposed to be proactive and assertive when you take out a mortgage, carefully collecting and evaluating all sorts of information before you make the biggest deal of your life. But when the mortgage broker starts shooting sheaves of papers (OK, PDF documents) at you, it’s easy for your eyes to glaze over at the sight of so many zeroes, and tempting just to start signing whatever it takes to get that house, condo, townhome or land!

Here are 5 questions every smart buyer (or refi-er) should add to the list of issues to cover with your mortgage professional:

1. Are you a bank, a broker, or both?  Generally speaking, mortgage lenders that are banks or have their own banking divisions (which many reputable brokerages do) have more control over the appraisal process, including the ability to submit your file to a pool of appraisers they know have some knowledge of your local neighborhood. Given the fact that non-local appraisers and the inability to communicate with appraisers under relatively new guidelines for brokerages are responsible for killing loads and loads of deals, working with a company that is or has a bank could be a deal-saving move, especially if the property is in an area that hasn’t had many recent sales or is otherwise challenging to appraise.

Also, some broker/banks that originate loans and sell them straight to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac under the FHA loan programs offer the same benefits of an FHA loan – low down payment and moderate qualification guidelines – without the “overlays” imposed by some larger banks, which actually place a more restrictive set of guidelines on FHA loan programs. For example, FHA guidelines do not impose a minimum credit score, but many banks overlay their own 640 minimum FICO requirement. Broker/banks that sell straight to Fannie and Freddie often mirror the FHA minimum guidelines precisely.

Finally, brokerages with their own in-house bank and a large roster of lenders and programs provide the advantage of offering a wider range of fallback options than plain old banks or plain old brokerages – Plans A, B, C and D, if you will – which many borrowers need these days, in the (increasingly common) case your first choice bank or loan program doesn’t work out.

2. Will you explain my Good Faith Estimate to me? May I also have a fee sheet or estimate of funds to close? The current, national standard Good Faith Estimate (GFE) is pretty clear, clarifying all sorts of deal points, from the broker’s commissions to the costs associated with the loan, but as a point of customer service, you should ask your mortgage pro to explain it to you (if they don’t do so under their own initiative).

The one shortfall of the latest edition of the GFE is that, while it clearly shows the costs associated with a particular loan scenario, it does not always show so clearly the actual amount of funds you’ll need to close the transaction (which might be more or less than those costs)! So, ask your mortgage representative to prepare a fee sheet or an estimate of funds to close as early in the transaction as possible.

3. How long will it take to close my loan? How much time will I need for loan and appraisal contingencies?  The time frames for closing your mortgage – which often drive the time frames for closing your home purchase – often vary widely depending on the type of loan and even the type of lender you work with.(Large bank loans originated by the bankers who sit inside the branch are notoriously slower to close, on average, than loans originated by brokers.) Similarly, the time it takes to get through the FHA loan appraisal and underwriting process might be much longer than it would take, all things being equal, to clear those hurdles and remove your loan and appraisal contingencies on a Conventional (i.e., non-FHA) mortgage. 

 When you first meet with your prospective mortgage pro, talk with them about these time frames, so they can help you set realistic expectations and insert realistic time frames into your offer when you make it, to minimize the drama of a contingency clock that ticks way faster than your mortgage process.

 4. Are there any fees for the mortgage loan application/approval process? Some lenders charge for credit checks up front, and most require that you pay for your appraisal in advance (although the latter happens only after you find and get into contract on your property. One of the first questions you should ask, when you sit down with a new mortgage broker is how much cash you’ll have to come up with just for the privilege of having them run your application and take the first steps down the road to loan approval.

5. How long have you been originating loans? And how long have you been with your company? Mortgage pros who have been around for a long time have the knowledge of advance troubleshooting, workarounds and backup plans, and the current underwriting practices it takes to get a loan closed in this restrictive mortgage market. If you found them in some way other than a referral, you can even ask for references from a few clients. Most mortgage pros that have been in business for a while will be able to give you names and numbers of clients they’ve worked with on multiple purchases and/or refis: that’s a very good sign. You’ll rest a lot easier if you know that your loan is in the hands of a seasoned pro that others like you trust with their largest asset – and largest financial obligation.

Don’t forget to call Leah Bishop  at The Winter Park Resort real estate office with any questions about your mountain home or finding your perfect lender!  970.531.4723 or at lbishop@playground.com

The 5 Most Common Complaints of Short Sale and REO Buyers (and How to Avoid Them)

Leah | July 16th, 2011 | No Comments »

Winter Park Resort’s Real Estate office is no stranger to short sales here in Winter Park, Fraser and Tabernash. Our office has successfully sold every listing that was a short sale and has walked numerous buyers through acquiring a short sale property. Contact Leah at 970.531.4723 or lbishop@playground.com if you are in the market for a short sale or have more questions about listing your home or condo as a short sale.

Roughly forty percent of the homes for sale on today’s market are short sales and foreclosures! Distressed properties are well known for their value (a reputation which is sometimes accurate, and sometimes not), but they also have a reputation for causing buyers and sellers to become distressed, too!

Transactional snafus, last-minute surprises and long, drawn-out escrows that never close seem to be par for the course.

Instead of avoiding these properties altogether, get educated about the most common dramas that go down in these deals, and how you can avoid falling victim.

1.  Run-on (and on, and on) escrows.  When you’re buying a home (or selling one, for that matter), time is absolutely of the essence.  And buyers reasonably expect that the big time suck in real estate is in the house hunting process itself; seems like once you find a home you want to buy and the seller agrees to your price and terms, things should move pretty quickly, right?

Not so much, when it comes to some distressed property sales. I’ve heard tell of the occasional, swiftly-moving escrow on an REO (real estate owned – by the bank). But for the most part, these transactions take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks longer than “regular” sales, because of the extra signatures, supervisor-level approvals and even investor involvement required to seal the deal.  Banks don’t have the same sense of urgency individual home sellers do, and it’s not uncommon for the people who need to sign on the dotted line to be on vacation or scattered across the country, adding days’ or weeks’ worth of time to the escrow.

And short sales are also an entirely different animal when it comes to escrow timelines. While a standard sale from an individual seller to an individual buyer might take 45 days from contract to closing, a short sale can take anywhere from 45 days to 6 or 8 months (!) to get the deal closed, after the seller has accepted the contract.

 Avoid the drama by: expecting your escrow to run long, and being pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.  Expectation management is everything. Make sure you take these extended timelines into account when you’re working with your mortgage broker on the issue of when to lock your interest rate, and how long your rate locks will last. You might even need to plan on and/or set aside an allowance for the cost of extending your low interest rate, if rates are rising rapidly during the time you’re waiting for the deal to be done.

 2.  Bank won’t take lowball offer.  If I had a dollar for every time I’ve received a question from an outraged reader to the effect that a buyer has had their short sale or REO offer rejected on grounds that it was too low,  even though the bank has no other offers, I could buy a foreclosure myself (admittedly, it’d be one of those $150 foreclosures in some blighted town with tax liens and no plumbing, but still).

 Banks owe their shareholders and investors a duty to get as much as they can for these properties. Just because you see it’s on the market and listed as a short sale or a foreclosure doesn’t mean they’re going to give it to you for a fraction of its worth. The bank’s goal is to get a purchase price as close as possible to the home’s fair market value, as determined by the recent sales prices of similar, nearby homes, with some adjustments made for the property’s condition.  Fact is, many banks would rather see the listing agent reduce the price by a moderate amount, and wait to see what offers come in, than to accept an offer 30 percent below the asking price just because there are no other offers on the table.

Avoid the drama by:  working with your agent to make a realistic offer, based on recent comparable sales in the neighborhood, not just on what you think you can get away with.  You can waste a lot of time, spin a lot of wheels and lose out on a lot of properties making lowball offer after lowball offer on distressed homes. Sit down with your broker or agent, review the ‘comps’ and make a smart offer that reflects a good value for you, is within your budget and is not bizarrely out of the realm of the fair market value of the property.

3.  Last minute postponements/cancellations.  These transactions have an uncanny way of being delayed at the last minute – or never going through at all, through no fault of the wanna-be buyer. You signed docs yesterday, put your dog in the crate this morning and just hopped in the moving truck, only to get a text from your broker that the deal didn’t close because the escrow company which was selected by the bank flubbed the checkboxes on a single sheet of paper (it happens). Or, you’ve been in contract (with the seller) on a short sale for four months, and the bank refuses the sale entirely because the seller refuses to kick even $1 of their own cash into the deal, despite having a flush savings account. 

Avoid the drama by:  staying as flexible as possible with your moving plans as long as possible.  Best practice is to plan on some overlap between the time you can be in your last place and your scheduled move-in date.  Also, if you’re in contract on a short sale, you should take the point of view that you don’t have a firm deal until you get the bank’s approval of the transaction. So don’t even think about starting to make moving plans or paying for home inspections and appraisals until you know the bank has greenlit the deal and that the purchase price and terms they’ve approved work for both you and the seller.

4.  The bank’s black box.   Make an offer on a normal home and you’re likely to know what the outcome will be within a few hours or a few days, at the outside. If things take longer because the seller is out of town or some such, the listing agent tells you that, and you at least know what’s going on.

 Make an offer on a bank-owned property or a short sale?  It’s a crap shoot – could be days, but could also, easily, be weeks or months before you know what’s going on.  And no amount of calling, pleading, prodding or nudging is likely to get you much information on how your offer or the seller’s short sale application is being handled or what (if any) progress is being made.  And that “black box” into which your offer disappears at the benk level is very frustrating.

 Avoid the drama by:  continuing your house hunt until you have an answer back.  Maniacally pestering the listing agent for answers or harrassing your buyer’s broker into spending hours on hold with the bank is highly unlikely to get you any insight. (With that said, it does make sense for your agent to check in regularly – sometimes even daily -  with a short sale or REO listing agent to stay updated on any developments with the property and to make sure your offer/transaction stays in the front of their mind.) 

 Most of the angst in these situations arises when a buyer feels they passed on properties that would have really worked for them when they pinned their hopes on a distressed home.  You can only control your efforts and activities, not the bank’s.  So, consult with your own broker or agent about staying proactive in viewing and even pursuing other properties until you have a firm “yes” from the bank on your short sale or REO offer.  Until that time, and usually for a short time after you get the bank’s approval, you have the right to back out of the transaction if you need to (make sure your broker briefs you on precisely when your right to rescind your offer or exercise contingencies – i.e., bail – will expire).

 5.  Double standards. In a “regular” equity sale with no bank involvement, both buyer and seller are obligated to meet various timelines.  Seller has to provide disclosures by X date, open the property to inspections – with utilities on – by Y, and close and move out by Z.  REO and short sale buyers, on the other hand, are often dismayed to find that  even though the bank might take weeks or months to sign or handle its deliverables, the bank will insist that the buyer show up, sign or send a check quick-like.

Avoid the drama by: chalking it up to the (admittedly irritating) way things are – the price you pay to buy from the bank.  Realize that working with the bank on the bank’s terms is unavoidable when you buy a distressed property. Then, go into the deal with realistic expectations – including the expectation that the bank will drag its feet, despite expecting you to keep every deadline – and you’ll be less frustrated, and less likely to make poor decisions out of frustration.

Also, make sure you do respond in a timely manner to the bank’s requests and your obligations under the contract.  I’ve seen banks capitalize on buyer delays in returning signatures and removing contingencies to accept higher offers they received in the interim.  Don’t lose your home on a technicality because you assume that the bank’s lackadaisacal timelines apply to you as well. Article written by Tara Nelson.

Mountain Living at a Fraction of the Cost

Leah | March 25th, 2011 | No Comments »

Deeded (25%) Quarter share listed at $139,500!! Mountain decor furnishings, single car garage, views of the Winter Park Resort. Mountain living at its best and easiest – use your week and then no worries until the next time!

Check out more photo here: Lakota Photos

Call Gretchen at 970.531.3465 if you have any interest in learning more about this property.

Hello again!

Leah | March 23rd, 2011 | No Comments »

Hello Winter Park Resort Real Estate fans! It has been a while….too long. What a great winter is has been so far! Lots of great snow, the Village was bustling with people all season long and to top it all off- sales, sales, and sales! We have sold 2 Loft’s in the last month and have the remaining 4 under contract. In addition, we had a record year for re-sales on and off the base. Now that our team is up for air, we are looking forward to updating our Blog more often to get you the information you need.  We still have another month of skiing to do. Come up and take advantage of this great snow. Still thinking about real estate here at the base? Stop by, send us an email or give us a call today? There are some great deals out there!!

info@playground.com 866.722.5560 or stop by our new office located right next to the Cabriolet lift!

10 Reasons to get pumped about this season!

Leah | November 15th, 2010 | No Comments »


1. 20 new rail features:

Two propane tanks-jibs,
“Kid” the horse feature who is back ‘from pasture’,
20 single-barrel rails with a variety of configurations of flat, kinked, C-rails and rainbows.

2.Mobile me
Smart phone access to mobile website for live webcams, trail maps and weather and trail conditions.

3.Blog this
Articles highlighting terrain parks, youth programs, events, multimedia, interviews with staff and guests and news at skiwinterpark.com.

4.Learn in Style
Opening Dec. 11, the new private lesson center at the base of Zephyr Express: The center includes complimentary lockers for full day private lessons guests, a full concierge service, private lift line to Zephyr Express Chairlift, snowmobile shuttle to the award-winning Sorensen Park for beginners, customized boot fitting service and a VIP lounge.

5. Improved Parking
Bye-bye mud bog! Over the summer WPR paved 822 marked spaces at The Vintage Hotel parking lot. Jump on the Village Cabriolet without mud on your boots.

6. More tree runs
Winter Park and Denver Water were awarded a grant this summer to improve forest health by decreasing fire hazard, encouraging new tree growth for a healthy, stable watershed and reducing safety hazards to skiers. The end result — more tree runs!

7. Greener WP
The resort has appointed a new employee council tasked with refocusing the resort’s sustainability efforts — including an improved recycling program for guests and employees, composting, and reduction of water waste. Meeting monthly, the council will work on projects such as ‘Zero Waste’ at its mountain top restaurant.

8. Free babysitting (sort of)
Spend $30 eating out in the village on Thursdays from Dec. 16 to April 14 and the babysitting is free. Open to kids 4-12, the night includes games, crafts, movies, dinner and s’mores by the firepit for the kids, from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

9. Longer season
Thanks to Jesus, the season will be longer this year. With a later Easter, the season will run through Easter Sunday, April 24.

10. Dilly Dally Alley
An old logging road is now WP’s newest blue run. The 200-yard-long offshoot of lower Lonesome Whistle on Vasquez Ridge will keep young riders giggling with its big rolling waves and “whoop-dee-doos.” Surrounded by large Fur Trees and the East Fork of the Little Vasquez Creek, parents may also be enticed to take a run or two.

Article from  the Ski-Hi Daily News.