Crazy to think it’s been one whole year since I bought my first home in Denver, solo.

Since then, I’ve learned a LOT about what it means to buy a home, be a homeowner, and manage a property. But as I’m reflecting on this whole last year, I remember how freaking OVERWHELMING it was to even think about getting started in the whole home-buying process.

And so, why not share some of the steps I took/things I learned? Maybe one of y’all will buy a home and invite me over for a lil vacay ;)

Me in the kitchen of the house! :)

Me in the kitchen of the house! :)

This post will be dedicated to Realtors 101. Later, we’ll cover mortgage lenders, submitting an offer, going under contract, earnest money, etc etc etc.

But first things first — this is in no way to say that I think buying a home is the right thing to do for everyone.

It’s a personal choice that I think is right for different people at different times in their lives. So don’t look at this post as a, “Fuck! I gotta buy a house, what am I doing rn!?” kind of thing… but more of a “Oh, I’d like to learn generally about the process since.. you know, it could be helpful” kind of shindig :)

Alright, let’s do this.

Realtor 101

To answer some of the biggest questions about who Realtors are, I asked the Realtor I worked with in Denver for her expertise.

Alright world, meet Madison Kissel of BSW Real Estate.

Based in Denver, CO.


In her own words:

Madison specializes in working directly with buyers, sellers, relocation, first time homebuyers, and investors. Madison has touched over 300 real estate transactions from start to finish in her 4 years of real estate experience. Madison is an active member of the Denver Metro Realtors Association, Young Professionals Network, and the Colorado Association of Realtors. She also is involved in her community with Extreme Community Makeover, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and the Empowerment Council of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. Madison’s skills include: integrity, honesty, transparency, active communication, market knowledge, follow up, reliability, responsiveness, a high level of customer service, and advanced organizational skills. Some of her certifications include: Certified Negotiation Expert Certification, Home Staging Certification, and Ninja Selling Certification. Madison moved to Denver 7 years ago. She was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and attended college at the University of Central Florida. When she isn’t working with amazing clients, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, traveling, staying fit, yoga, good food, better wine, and being with her 4 year old Siberian husky, Luna.

So I asked her a bunch of questions and her answers are below!

Q: What is a realtor or real estate agent? What do they do?

A: There’s a difference between REALTOR® and Real Estate Agents.

MK — People tend to use the terms REALTOR® and real estate agent interchangeably, but they aren't alike. Not every real estate agent is a REALTOR® and not every REALTOR® is a real estate agent. Although both are licensed to sell real estate, the main difference is that a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. And with that designation, they subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. This Code of Ethics ranges from pledging to put the interests of buyers and sellers ahead of their own and to treat all parties honestly, admitting honest disclosure when mandatory, honoring to not co-mingle client's funds, and cooperating peacefully with other agents and brokers. I myself am a REALTOR® but I think it just depends on the consumer and what is important to them. 

Q: How do I find one? But for real, how do I find one that I actually trust?


MK — He/she will be around for quite some time and it's an intimate relationship during a really monumental time of your life. So first and foremost, let's make sure you like them. When I meet with a new client, I sit down with them at my office, coffee shop, their house, or lunch — and just get to know them. I ask a TON of questions. As the realtor, we should control the flow of the process, and the client should control the decision-making.

If you get a weird sales-y vibe from someone, it's a hard pass. I’m here to help you get where YOU want to go. Not sell a different dream.

To find a realtor:

  • Ask friends/family for referrals

  • If you’re moving to a new city, use Zillow. Look up the agent’s profile and past sales. Stalk them on FB and Google!

  • Ask to meet for an initial buyer consultation

CP —
This being said, I really enjoyed working with Madison in the Denver area. For folks looking in the Colorado Springs area, I highly (HIGHLY) recommend Aaron Moore of Kenney & Company Real Estate Services.

The contact info for both here:

Madison Kissel
Cell: (303) 949 - 8697

Aaron Moore
Cell: (719) 550 - 1515

Q: What makes a good realtor? What are red flags?

A: a good realtor = solid support system + large base of experience/education.

MK — When you meet up with the realtor for the first time, pay attention to the details, such as:

  • Are they on time?

  • Do they have enough time /support to give you superior service?

  • Do they have an infrastructure or local network in place?

  • Have they done ~12 deals in the past year?

  • Are they full time? Part time?

  • Do they know their market stats, neighborhood research?

  • Are they asking questions?

  • Are they listening?

  • Are they educating you?

  • Are they actually a nice human being?

Positive qualities:

  • Solid support system

  • Large base of experience/education

  • Well versed on the market and neighborhoods

  • Can connect you to other recommendations if you need them (mortgage lenders, inspectors, contractors, etc)

  • They hustle to find an answer

  • On time and punctual

Red flags:

  • Showing up late to appointments

  • Not responding quickly to emails/calls/texts

  • Continuing to send you homes that don't match your criteria after you have already explained it multiple times

  • …. they’re giving off the creepy sales-y vibe.

Alright, so that’s step 1!

Find a realtor that you jive with, that is smart as a whip, who has experience, and isn’t shady.

Stay tuned for more :)