Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Everything!

At the end of each year at Staufer Team Real Estate, the agents get together to prepare our business plans for the new year. Not only do we review and create professional goals but personal goals, as well. Each agent picks a "word" for the new year - something that helps us focus on a quality or idea we would like to improve. Some of my past words have been "Growth," "Sustainability" and "Support." For 2016, I've chosen "Intentional."

Present moment awareness is a skill I am trying to cultivate. I believe it will help me be a calmer presence and a better listener. I want to choose my words and actions with more intention, and I believe this will result in wiser choices and a more peaceful existence. One of my goals is to commit to some kind of volunteer work, not just write checks to charitable organizations. I would like to spend more time with people who enjoy giving, appreciate them more, and allow that spirit to continue to grow my gratitude in the new year.

The best part of my job is helping great people who then become part of my life. The holidays are about spending time with loved ones and being grateful for the gifts we have. Yet there are so many people who struggle this time of year. It is so easy to allow our daily lives and a fearful culture to narrow our focus and our energies. Yet when we open our hearts and act from love our fears grow smaller and our world gets bigger. My wish and challenge for you in the new year is that you allow the holiday spirit to stay with you beyond the decorations, and that you make an intentional choice to expand your perspective and your world. ❤️

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, December 18, 2015

Riding Green: A Review of the Nissan Leaf

When I earned my GREEN Designation from the National Association of REALTORS, I made a 

pledge to walk the talk, to make changes in both my personal and professional life to show a commitment to living a more sustainable life. Since one of our family cars was showing serious signs of decline (after more than 20 years), this seemed to be a great opportunity to advertise for the cause.

I have had my 2015 Nissan Leaf for almost a month now, and I'm mostly quite satisfied with it. That is to say, it has met my expectations so far both positive and negative. Also in contention for purchase was the Ford Focus Electric, but the dealership I spoke with likened them to "unicorns" in the Denver market, saying they only see one about every six months. Since I wanted to buy before the end of the year to receive the $12,500 in federal and state tax credits, I decided I couldn't wait for the unicorn, or for the new Tesla that would first start pre-orders in the spring.

Like all electric cars, the Leaf has great torque. The 80kW electric motor provides acceleration from 0 to 60 in 10.2 seconds. I haven't exactly tested that, but it does do that push-you-back-into-your chair thing even when I just want to change lanes (I'm sure that has nothing to do with the way I drive). You can also drive in ECO mode, which consumes less power. It also employs regenerative braking when the accelerator pedal is released. This puts the motor into reverse mode, which extends the life of the brakes while feeding power back into the battery.

Driving in ECO mode can extend the life of the battery. I've become obsessed with the ECO indicator on the dash, which displays how economically I'm driving by building little tree symbols. Last week I was on pace to hit the 100-mile mark on a single charge. However, yesterday's cold temperatures reduced that by quite a bit. I wasn't out long enough to get an accurate measurement, but I'm sure it was at least a 20% reduction in range. Since my drive time is reduced in the coldest months due to real estate's seasonal slowdown, I am less concerned with this than other drivers with long commutes may be.

Initially, I was adding the cost of a home charging station into my car budget, but as it turns out I didn't need one. I've been charging overnight on a regular 120V outlet, which has met my needs so far. The Leaf will trickle-charge from 0-100% in 21 hours, and so far I haven't gotten close to zero to test it out. During the busy season next spring/summer, I may have to shell out for the next level charger which will give me a complete charge in 4-7 hours so I don't strand myself and my clients anywhere. I can set a charging timer if I am so inclined, which would be an asset to anyone living in areas where electricity costs change over the course of the day. We also have solar panels on our roof, and my husband likes to brag about how we're powering our car with the sun. The Leaf also has the ability to quick charge 80% in about 30 minutes, and I've downloaded an app to show me where all of the available charging stations are just in case.

Everyone who has seen my car has asked about the life of the battery pack. The battery warranty is 8 years or 100,000 miles, but since the Leaf was only introduced in 2010 we don't have a lot of data on whether they will out- or under-perform the warranty. A replacement battery is currently coming in around $5,500 but that cost is anticipated to keep decreasing as time goes on. I've done some calculations on my energy savings based on average use and found that I may save almost $1,500 annually on gas. My plan is to put just a portion of that aside each year to painlessly fund the eventual battery replacement.

Additionally, the Leaf has an anti-lock braking system, an Intelligent Key system, and a Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians since the operation of the car is practically silent. It has plenty of cargo room for my needs, and some other nifty features like honking at me when I've filled my tires to the right pressure. My only complaint would be the lack of 4-wheel drive. The high-torque engine could not help me get onto the road any faster when there was a layer of ice and snow beneath me. In colder states or those who travel often into the mountains this will definitely be a concern, so I'd recommend test driving it in these conditions if at all possible. Boulder Nissan was great to work with if you're in the market - tell Ed or Brendan I sent you.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, November 20, 2015

Buying in a Winter Wonderland

Baby it’s cold outside, and that means that fewer people are thinking about buying a new home. If you’re in the market, this could work in your favor. There are a few advantages to buying a home in the “off-season.” 

As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I know all the tricks to getting you your dream home in time for the holidays. Please let me know if you have any questions! 

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bradburn Sales Update

Bradburn Village is one of my favorite neighborhoods, not only because of the style of architecture and small-town feel, but also because of it's walkability to restaurants, parks, grocery stores, schools and retail such as salon services, dentistry and yoga.

For the past few years, neighborhood sales have increased in number with strong summer and fall seasons. Annual home sales (both attached and detached properties) for 2012, 2013, and 2014 have been 45, 38 and 42 respectively, more than a 40% increase over the previous few years. Don't expect it to keep that pace, however; further price increases will likely be smaller now that many areas have regained their pre-recession housing values.

The speed of the market this past year is reflected in the Bradburn neighborhood stats, as well. For 2015 to date, the average days to offer is 12 (attached) and 14 (detached), a 37% and 67% decrease over the same time last year, respectively. Seller leverage was also reflected in the sales prices and concessions offered to buyers. In 2014, homes sold for an average of 98.3% (attached) and 98.5% (detached) of the listing price. In 2015, the averages have risen to 100.7% and 99.3% for the first three quarters. Concessions, or credit given by sellers to buyers at closing, decreased from 40% of all transactions in 2014 to 18% for the same time period this year (Jan - Sept).

With that said, we have to keep in mind that Bradburn is still a small slice of the Westminster pie. One or two homes can swing the data severely in one direction or another, so it's important to look at longer timelines and historical trends. You can see in this chart below that, although the price per square foot can go up or down quite a bit each quarter, the trend lines for both attached and detached houses are headed up.

Price per SQFT, 2014-2015    (source: IRESis)
Tracking this data is important to determine local appreciation and the current value of homes in this neighborhood. If you'd like a no-obligation Comparative Market Analysis for your home, don't hesitate to contact me. This is a great time to get your ducks in a row for a 2016 listing!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, October 9, 2015

Sometimes You Get What You Pay For

Before I go into my topic, I'd like to first say that I am not afraid of a little competition. What gets my knickers in a twist is misleading information, especially the kind that casts me and my colleagues in the bad-guy role. Just like the idiot who blows through the yield sign and then yells at you for being in his way, it's a matter of education.

From time to time, the real estate industry sees the flat-fee business model emerge and eventually dissolve. Just as it sounds, these companies will offer sellers and buyers real estate services at a flat fee instead of the typical percentage deal. I've worked for a few companies, and they've all considered and rejected the model every time, for good reasons, I think.

I've heard proponents of this business model call it "disruptive," and I would have to agree, but not in the way they mean it. If you know me, you know that I support reflection and change, even when it may rock the boat. I think this model is disruptive in that it ends up short-changing clients while claiming to give them a superior alternative. While not every company will have exactly the same setup, let me offer you some contrasts.

  • PERCENTAGE VS. FLAT FEE. Contrary to what is sometimes presented to customers, there are no set percentages for real estate services, not anywhere in the country. All compensation is negotiable, and should be linked to the services and value offered. While the same client care is required, it costs an agent much more to sell a $1,500,000 house than it does a $150,000 house. Different houses require different approaches, and if an agent isn't tailoring his marketing program and selling strategy to each house, the client is not getting the best service possible.
  • FULL SERVICE VS. LIMITED SERVICE. Some flat-fee agents will agree to list a seller's home in the multiple listing service only, and then force the seller to do all of the follow-up and negotiation. This is actually a violation of the explicit or implicit obligations an agent has to a client, as per the Colorado Real Estate Commission. There is no working relationship in this state that allows an agent to duck out of these responsibilities - if he participates in a transaction, he must execute a certain list of duties or risk losing his license.

    In addition, customers should consider the real possibility that a flat-fee agent may not have the time to devote to each client as would a full-service agent. If an agent is only going to earn a certain amount on a transaction, he is going to have to make up the numbers in quantity, likely sacrificing quality.

  • REALTOR® VS. REAL ESTATE AGENT. These two are not the same thing. REALTORS® are required to take additional education that real estate agents are not, including being members of the local, state and national boards. As a result, REALTORS® have access to many more resources, including comprehensive market data, qualified professionals, and legal advice. Companies that do flat-fee only often do not require their agents to join any of these groups in an effort to keep costs down.
  • CLEAN VS. MESSY CONTRACTS. I've heard flat-fee agents suggest that commission negotiation can occur within the Contract to Buy and Sell, should the flat fee fall short of the amount of work the agent has done and earned for his client. This is not appropriate, and highly discouraged by the Colorado Real Estate Commission since the agent is not a principal to the contract (it's between seller and buyer). It can be acceptable if the buyer demands more compensation for their agent as a term of the deal, but this can put clients at a disadvantage, especially when there are multiple offers to compete against. All of the REALTORS® I work with will sooner accept the cut in pay rather than jeopardize their client's chances.
  • LOCAL EXPERTISE VS. SPREADING TO THIN. One goal espoused by a manager of one of these companies was "to serve as many people over a large geographic area as possible from one office." While this may be convenient for agents, it does not reflect the necessary skill set required to do justice for a client. I have often referred people to other agents down in Denver or Littleton because I know that their local expertise will serve the client better. Agents cannot be experts in every geographic area, and shouldn't try.
  •  VALUING VS. UNDERVALUING SKILLS. As a REALTOR®, I spend a ton of time collecting data, evaluating prices and trends, previewing homes, keeping up to date on tax, contract and lending changes, and learning about all aspects of real estate transactions and homes themselves. With the availability of data on real estate websites, it may seem easy enough to find and buy or sell a home, but deals can be far more complicated to close. Without the expertise that comes with buying and selling for years, transactions can go south quickly and cost clients a lot of money.

And I'll be honest; I can't afford to do this job for the rates I've seen these companies offer. Did you know that the national median income for a real estate agent is less than $40,000 a year? Take some sizable chunks out of that for individual health insurance policies, plus all of the licensing, education and organization dues and I'm far from a millionaire. I believe that the skills and knowledge I have to offer and the fact that I am available to my clients for about 16 hours a day is worth a reasonable compensation.

I suspect that, while this model works okay in a seller's market where houses are flying off the market and buyers are conceding everything to get their offer accepted, it won't be so popular in a different market where more is going to be expected of agents and flat service just won't cut it. Companies like Expedia and Uber succeed because they improve the customer experience, not because they save them a couple of bucks. Excellent customer service is still what succeeds.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, October 2, 2015

Be Prepared for Longer Closing Timelines

On October 3, 2015, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPD) will be implementing the new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (or TRID, for short). It replaces the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure and Good Faith Estimate for most mortgage loans. The CFPB was created by the Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (also known as Dodd-Frank, named after the congressmen who got it passed) in an attempt to prevent the recurrence of the financial crisis of 2008.

The new disclosure is purported to be easier for consumers to read and understand, as well as provide more information and stricter requirements of the process. It tightens up waiting periods and tolerances for certain quoted fees and requires the creditor to supply a list of providers for which the consumer may shop services.

You can view the sample forms HERE. For the most part, I think they do make the information more easily digestible, although depending on how your specific state does things there will be some discrepancies. For instance, in Colorado, where clients receive a discount on title insurance at the time of purchasing both a homeowner and lender policy, arriving at the right totals in the right boxes may be a bit confusing.

Another thing consumers should be aware of is potentially longer timeline to close the transaction. The addition of a three-day waiting period between borrowers receiving the closing disclosure and closing the deal is now mandatory and cannot be waived by the borrowers. Any changes made at that point to the annual percentage rate, the loan product, or the prepayment penalty will start the three-day clock over again.

While professionals in the real estate and mortgage industry should be ready for compliance, I would recommend adding a week or so to your expectations when it comes to getting those final documents. It's usually easier to move a closing up if everyone is ready, than to try to push it back.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, September 25, 2015

Unusual Recyclables

I hate waste. I try to compost, recycle and reuse everything I can, but I often have items I just have to trash. Don't judge - I recently threw away the last shirt I had from high school. No, it wasn't neon and yes, I got my money's worth.

Bet you never knew you could recycle these items:
  • Brita Water Filters - Preserve Products takes the plastic casing and turns them into toothbrushes.
  • Carpeting (nylon) - Carpet Recovery can put you in touch with a carpet-reclamation facility near you.
  • Crayons - Crayon Recycle Program makes whole multi-colored and solid crayons from stubs.
  • Denim - Blue Jeans Go Green turns denim into environmentally safe insulation.
  • Greeting Cards - St. Jude's Ranch for Children creates new cards from the old ones and sells them to fund programs to support abused, neglected and homesless children.
  • Inhalers - Complete the Cycle breaks down inhalers to reuse the aluminum and plastic.
  • Juice Pouches - TerraCycle will turn these otherwise non-recyclabes into purses and tote bags.
  • Keys - Key for Hope collects old keys to see as scrap and uses the money to stock food pantries.
  • Pantyhose - No Nonsense recycles pantyhose and tights into things like toys, carpet and playground equipment.
  • Sneakers - Reuse-a-Shoe takes old running shoes and turns them into court surfacing.
  • VHS Cassettes - GreenDisk dismantles and shreds the tapes and turns them into other items.
Items that you are done might be useful for someone else. It's pretty easy to find organizations who will take your items and donate them to other folks who may need them, like hearing aids, wheelchairs, eyeglasses, etc. The Freecycle Network is another way to reuse items. Volunteers in each zip code connect people giving and needing stuff in their area.

Spend just a minute to find out where your item can find new life. It's really just a matter of changing your habits to think about extending the usefulness of products instead of adding to the landfills.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Fall Honey-Do List

Regular maintenance on the exterior of your home is an important, if sometimes mundane, seasonal task. With just a little bit of effort this fall, you can reduce costly repairs in the future and maintain the value of your home.

A stitch in time...
  • Look for blistering or peeling paint on siding and trim. Scrape, sand and paint as soon as possible to prevent water damage.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts and make sure drainage extends out past the foundation of your home to prevent snow and ice from getting into places where they can cause unseen damage.
  • Check your foundation for cracks and caulk where masonry meets siding, where pipes or wires enter the house, and around window and door frames.
  • Inspect your roof for cracked or curling shingles, or hire a professional to do it. Check the flashing around chimneys and skylights to keep out the snow and ice.
Ice dam build up
  • Check the insulation in your attic. If you have less than R-30 (11" of fiberglass or rock wool, or 8" of cellulose) you could benefit from adding more. Snow and ice melting too quickly off of your roof can cause ice dams to form at the eaves which can ruin your roof.
  • Weather strip your garage door to keep out small animals and prevent drafts.
  • Have your furnace cleaned and inspected. Companies sometimes offer introductory deals as low as $35.
  • Have your fireplace cleaned and examine the insert door seal to reduce the risk of fire and build up of poisonous gases.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Buy new units if the smoke detectors are 8-10 years old and the carbon monoxide detectors are 5-7.
Fall negligence - spring disaster
  • Turn off the water to exterior house bibs and blow the water out of the sprinkler system to prevent burst pipes.
  • Be sure any handrails around decks or porches are sturdy as folks use these more in the snow and ice.
That's done. Now reward yourself with a beverage on your deck.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, September 4, 2015

Project Sunroof: Google's Latest

Now Google can help you decide if it's worth it to get solar panels on your home. Well, they can help if you live in San Francisco, Fresno or Boston, the areas where the rollout has begun. Project Sunroof estimates how much you could save by going solar, and how much it might cost you.

Since Colorado isn't on the list, I used my sister's San Francisco address to test it out. Here's a bird's eye view of her neighborhood with a color key - purple is shade and yellow is sun.

Since she's only lived there a few months, they don't yet have a very good picture of her monthly electric bill, which is a self-set field on the Sunroof site to more accurately estimate savings. I'm going to go with $150 based on some anecdotal evidence and some data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. San Francisco turns out to be a good place to start looking at potential solar savings, not just because it is in Googleplex's backyard. Residents of the city paid 64% more than the national average per kWh in July of this year. In fact, prices have exceeded the national average by at least 60% in the past 5 years.

With this information, Project Sunroof estimates that 62% of my sister's electricity could be offset by solar panels of 4.25Kw, or 300sqft (which may just fit on the 305sqft available, Google optimistically figures). This percentage is based on daily analysis of weather patterns in the area that conclude there are 1,410 hours of usable sunlight per year shining down on their heads and roofs.

It also informs her that she can lease with zero money down and see an annual savings of $500, or $10,000 over the course of the 20-year lease. Alternatively, she can buy the system for $12,000 upfront and, while it will take 8 years to see a return on investment, in 20 years she will realize $21,000 in savings. From there, you can link to a list of solar providers in the area.

The site is easy and clear, and hopefully can take some of the hesitancy out of the decision for consumers, some of whom still look at solar power like my mom looks at a smartphone. Google says they will continue to expand availability over the next few months.

By the way, what do you think of Google's new look? I prefer the old serif font, myself.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, August 28, 2015

Why Homebuyers Should Hire a Professional

Buying a home can be an overwhelming experience. Using a buyer's representative to help you navigate the many obstacles, find a home quickly and make better offers. As an Accredited Buyer's Representative (ABR), I put my clients' needs first. 

Consider these important points, broken down by RealtyTimes. And then give me a call!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, July 31, 2015

Stickin' It to Xcel

We have a love/hate relationship with our energy companies. We love our cars and gadgets, we need our heating and cooling, we buy things manufactured and brought to us under different types of power. But when that bill comes - oh, boy.

Panels these days are very unobtrusive.
By now you've seen solar panels perched on houses in your neighborhood. They are becoming more popular everyday, but there is still misinformation that makes homeowners hesitate to add this tool to their sustainability plan. Folks are afraid the upfront costs will be high (they're not), or that it will take years to see value (it doesn't), or that the panels will scare buyers off in the future and reduce their home value (they don't).

Last summer, I had SolarCity install panels on my roof in Broomfield. Our home faces east/southeast, and though not very big there was still adequate room for enough panels to make it worthwhile. My representative, David, was able to see a satellite picture of my home online and determine that the home was a candidate for solar and had no trees blocking the rays.

Installation was easy - until we needed the cooperation of Xcel to install a new metering system. As you can imagine, they were not quite as excited as I was to start making my own power. But after a few weeks of delays (that I was warned about from the beginning), the meter was installed and I could load the SolarCity software onto my computer to monitor power generation. So cool!

My house from a hot air balloon. I wasn't, but you could.
SolarCity has a few different options depending on your needs - I have a 20 year lease agreement. SolarCity owns the panels and takes full responsibility for their care and liability. I have a fixed payment for the power I am generating and that is lower than what I was paying to Xcel. I basically feed power to the grid when I'm making more than I'm consuming, and I pull out power at night and when it's overcast. I still pay Xcel for gas, but my total payments to both companies this past year have been on average 18% less than they were before.

The lease is transferrable to new owners should you sell, and solar panels add value to your home. Younger generations of homebuyers cite sustainability and energy efficiency as a high priority when it comes to purchasing a home. Should you need to get a new roof, SolarCity will come and take the panels off and put them back on when you're done at no charge.

I have had a great experience with SolarCity, though I'm sure there are other companies offering similar types of deals. The important thing is to patronize the industry - call me if I can help you get started!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, July 17, 2015

FOR SALE: 1028 Turnberry Circle, Louisville

Brand new listing in Coal Creek Ranch!  Enjoy coffee on the private two-level back deck or take a short walk to the community pool, park and tennis courts!

1028 Turnberry Circle, Louisville, CO

Hardwood floors throughout the main floor, gas fireplace and stove, walkout basement, built-in cabinets, large windows and lots of light.  With four bedrooms upstairs, this is a very popular model. This neighborhood has a golf course and Monarch schools.  3 baths, 2 car garage, listing price is $510,000 - your chance to get into Coal Creek Ranch!

Come out and visit me at the Open House Sunday, July 19 from 1-3pm. Inventory in the city is still low; make sure you get a chance to visit. Feel free to email or call me if you'd like more details. Between the vibrant downtown, Streetfaires, Friday Artwalks, Taste of Louisville and the farmers' market, Louisville has so much to offer! 

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Greater Connectivity

This month, the Ruth Roberts Connector Trail opened, joining the Broomfield Lake Link Trail and the Boulder County Rock Creek Trail. The project received a $45,000 grant from Colorado State Trails/Great Outdoors Colorado.

For more maps and detailed information on Broomfield's open space plans, visit their website.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Energy Surveys and Assessments

Everyone would like to decrease the energy costs of their homes, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Beyond trading your old incandescents for CFLs or LEDs, you may be wondering how to really improve your home's systems and family's usage. Energy surveys and assessments are a great tool to conduct your evaluation.

* "Other" includes small electronic devices, heating elements,
motors, swimming pool and hot tub heaters, outdoor grills,
and natural gas outdoor lighting.
Source: HomeEnergySaver

Let's first take a look at how residential energy costs typically break down. This pie chart represents a typical home in a northern climate, where heating is the largest need. For homes in warmer climates, you'll probably see the heating and cooling numbers reversed. Most energy evaluations will focus on the heating and cooling, the building envelope, and water heating systems.

An energy survey is a visual inspection without any diagnostic testing and can take about an hour. Your local utility company can usually provide you with a list of registered contractors in your area who are qualified to conduct the survey. During the survey, the contractor will inspect the walls, windows, doors, insulation, ductwork, heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, and comfort and health issues, as well as reviewing utility bills. The report will provide the homeowner with suggestions for improving energy efficiency, including low-cost or DIY items, any applicable rebates or incentives, cost estimates, and any recommendations for more detailed evaluation.

Thermographic scanning uses infrared technology to identify
building envelope defects.
Source: National Renewable Energy Lab

An energy assessment is a more thorough process that uses performance tests to identify issues within a building. Sometimes the term audit is used for an assessment but sometimes it describes a higher or lower level or evaluation; be sure you ask your professional specifically what his process includes. To make the best use of your time with the assessor, prepare a list of existing problems ahead of time and gather copies of utility bills for review. The assessor will ask you about the residents of the home and their habits. He will utilize tests such as the Blower Door Test to measure air infiltration through the building envelope. He may use infrared scanners to identify insulation gaps or other areas where there are significant temperature differences. He will measure appliance efficiency, humidity levels, appliance power loads and computer analysis to provide you with detailed information and suggestions to make your home and systems more energy efficient. He may even supply cost analysis, priority investments and information on energy efficient mortgages (EEMs).

Here are a few other sources to find professionals in your area:

More and more homebuyers are citing energy efficiency as an important factor when buying a home. If you are thinking about selling, you may be able to add value and thousands onto your listing price by being energy conscious. Let me know if I can help!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

All The Clucking and Buzzing in Broomfield

More and more people are getting interested in their own chicken and beekeeping, and municipalities are keeping up with the trend. If you live in Broomfield, following are the city's rules for your backyard coops and hives.

Chickens are allowed. A license is $25 and subjected to the following restrictions:
(1) No more than five chickens are permitted per residential lot;
(2) Roosters are prohibited;
(3) Chickens must be contained within a coop and enclosure;
(4) Chickens may not be kept within a front yard;
(5) Coops and enclosures must be set back a minimum of 10 feet from the property line;
(6) Outside slaughtering is prohibited:
(7) Coops and enclosures less than six feet in height or coops 32 square feet or less shall not
require a building permit. Coops and enclosures six feet or greater in height or coops greater than 32 square feet shall require a building permit through the Building Division of the Department of Community Development.

Beekeeping is allowed. A license is $25 and subjected to the following restrictions:

(1) Maximum number of hives per lot:
     (a) One-quarter acre or less: two hives;
     (b) More than one-quarter acre up to and including one-half acre: four hives;
     (e) More than one-half acre but less than one acre: six hives;
     (d) One acre or larger: eight hives;
     (e) Regardless of lot size, where all hives are situated at least 200 feet from all property lines of the lot on which the hives are located, there shall be no limit to the number of hives;
     (f) For each two hives authorized above, there may be maintained upon the same lot one nucleus colony in a hive structure as required from time to time for management of swarms, said hive structure to comply with the other requirements of this section;
(2) Location: Hives shall be set back a minimum of 10 feet from all property lines and shall not be located in a front yard.
(3) Flyway barrier: If a hive is within 25 feet of a property line a flyway barrier at least six feet tall extending at least two feet beyond the hive shall be maintained between the hive and property line. A privacy fence a minimum of six feet in height, on or inside the property line, meets this requirement.
(4) Water: A supply of fresh water shall be maintained on the lot in a location readily accessible to all bee colonies to keep bees from congregating at water sources on nearby properties.
(5) Africanized bees: Africanized bees are prohibited.
(6) Queens: If a colony becomes aggressive or swarms, the beekeeper shall re-queen the colony with a queen selected from stock bred for gentleness and nonswarming characteristics.
(7) Nuisance: Any swarm or colony of bees not residing in a maintained hive structure is declared a nuisance. Any bee colonies not in compliance with this chapter or declared a nuisance may be destroyed or removed at the direction of the City and County Manager or his designee.

Chickens and bees are also allowed in Boulder, Louisville and Lafayette; please contact the cities directly for their set of guidelines. Homeowners Associations may have rules that further restrict or ban the above practices. Be sure to research your neighborhood for specifics before building your backyard coop or hive.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, March 6, 2015

Deconstruction vs. Demolition

We're all familiar with the home improvement TV programs that show homeowners taking a sledgehammer to their kitchen cabinets or filling dumpsters to the top with old lighting, windows and flooring. While it may be cathartic for the person smashing and kicking through their unwanted wall, it does little for the environment or the building industry.

Materials are removed carefully, keeping them intact for reuse.
Deconstruction is a viable alternative to demolition. Maybe you are just replacing your kitchen cabinets and can drop the old ones off at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. Perhaps you are scraping an existing structure to build new and call a deconstruction specialist from the Center for ReSource Conservation. Regardless of the project size, there are ways to reduce waste and lengthen the useful life of your materials. Selective deconstruction, or "soft strip" consists of removing easy, high-value materials such as lighting fixtures or solid-wood doors. Whole-house deconstruction goes further, removing materials such as framing lumber, flooring or bricks. Crews are hired to carefully take apart buildings and divert the materials to salvage yards, which can find them new life.

Initially, it may seem cost-prohibitive; deconstruction can cost about twice as much as demolition. However, the tax deductions you can get for donating your salvaged materials can offset the cost of the work to remove them, and in some situations even make you money. Keep in mind the other benefits of this approach - less trash and more availability of affordable building materials.

For a very large project deconstruction will take longer, but with a little extra planning it can definitely be worth it. You will want to coordinate with the organization that you plan to send your donation as they will need to prepare a materials list. You'll also need to hire an appraiser who is familiar with the IRS rules regarding this kind of a donation and the forms required to make it work. There are many resources available to make this part of the project smooth and beneficial. If you'd like a name, give me a call and I'll point you in the right direction to get started.

image: thekirbster

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, February 6, 2015

You Can Buy Again

It can take quite a while to recover from negative financial events like a bankruptcy and get your life back in order. Part of the high buyer demand in real estate right now is a result of those homeowners who went through a short sale or foreclosure during the recession now returning to the market, often called "boomerang buyers." If you had financial trouble in the past and are wondering when you might be able to qualify for a mortgage loan again, below are some general guidelines to help you plan.

Conventional / Fannie Mae
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - 4 year seasoning required from the discharge or dismissal date to the lender's credit report date.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - 2 years from discharge date of 4 years after dismissal date to the lender's credit report date.
  • Foreclosure - 7 year seasoning required from the completion date to the disbursement date of the new loan.
  • Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure - 4 year seasoning required from the completion date to the disbursement date of the new loan.
  • Short Sale - 2 year seasoning required from the completion date to the disbursement of the new loan.
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - 2 year seasoning required from discharge date to loan application date.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - Minimum 1 year timely payout according to the repayment plan at time of application along with trustee permission letter for new mortgage.
  • Foreclosure, Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure, Pre-foreclosure, Short Sale - 3 year seasoning required from foreclosure end date to loan approval date.
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - 2 year seasoning from date of discharge.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - Minimum 1 year timely payout required according to the replayment plan at time of application along with trustee permission letter for new mortgage.
  • Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure, Pre-foreclosure, Short Sale - Case by case basis as event may have been beyond the borrower's control.
  • Foreclosure - 2 years seasoning from date of foreclosure.
USDA Rural
  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - 3 year seasoning required.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy - Minimum 1 year timely payout according to the repayment plan at time of application along with trustee permission letter for new mortgage.
  • Foreclosure, Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure, Pre-foreclosure, Short Sale - 3 year seasoning required from foreclosure end date to loan approval date.
Downpayment requirements may also change depending on the type of loan sought. If you think you may be able to qualify for a new loan, be sure to talk with a mortgage expert about your specific situation to make sure that these timelines apply. If you need a referral to an experienced mortgage lender, don't hesitate to contact me; I have good relationships with several great professionals who will take good care of you.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or

Friday, January 23, 2015

Could the County Owe You Money?

Many people don't know it, but if they've lost their home in a foreclosure, they could have money coming to them.

When the public trustee sells the property at auction, sometimes there is money leftover once all liens on the property have been satisfied. It's not often, since homeowners who are in financial trouble can rack up debt in the form of tax liens, HOA judgements and other penalties once they stop paying their bills. In the current market, however, property values are increasing so quickly that some auction sales are yielding more than is owed to creditors.

State law requires Public Trustee offices to try to contact the former owner to refund the leftover proceeds. They must send a letter to the owner's last known address - usually the home that was foreclosed on - as well as publish an ad in the local paper for five weeks. As you can probably guess, few people ever get the letter or see the ads, and the money goes unclaimed. Counties retain overbid proceeds for five years, after which they send it to the Great Colorado Payback Program, where there are no time limits for filing a claim.

If you think your foreclosed home appreciated to the degree that there might have been leftover money after the auction sale, contact the county in which the property was located. It could mean a little good news after a period of bad luck.

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or