10 Free March Things to Do in Fort Collins

Where is all of our March snow? Thankfully not on the ground. This sunshine has been wonderful…it certainly has me thinking of Spring already and I’m sure you are as well.

Whether you’re feeling the call of Spring or just want to get out of the house, try one or all of these FREE (or mostly free) events in the month of March. #FreeFort CollinsThingsToDo

1. Spend 2 hours on a Fort Collins Historical Walking Tour by downloading the free brochure, http://static1.squarespace.com/static/51a3ad7ce4b0cf20ca0a3afc/t/51a8ce0ee4b02f35a70d1f13/1370017294885/Historic+Walking+Tour.pdf.

2. The Margaret Brown Collection is among the largest and most important donations of historic costume to the Poudre Landmark Foundation. The exhibit offers a beautiful, extensive range of fashion of fine womenswear, mid-1800s to mid-1900s. Saturdays & Sundays, 1-4 p.m. Free but we suggest a donation of $3 per person. http://poudrelandmarks.org/photos-ah-exhibit-2016-margaret-brown-collection.

3. The Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising is Colorado State University’s historic costume and textiles collection. Its mission is the exploration of the aesthetic, social, cultural and physical significance of textiles, dress and interior furnishings. Blackwell: Artist of Subtle Witchery, http://avenir.colostate.edu. Free admission.

4. Winter Farmers Market, March 12 and 19.Free music, food and drink samples and a great downtown vibe. Opera Galleria, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Opera-Galleria/172344802813993.

5. Lucky Joe’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade March 12, 10:00AM and Old Town Irish Party 10:00-5:00, http://downtownfortcollins.com/events/lucky-joes-st-patricks-day-parade.

6. Spring Holistic Fair March 12-13. http://holistic-fairs.com. $6 one day, $9 weekend, $1 discount with non-perishable food donation or go to website and BUY 1 GET 1 FREE.

7. Foodie Walk, March 18, 6:00-8:00PM. A different theme each month with participating businesses offering free samples. http://www.thesourcedowntown.com/foodie-walk.

8. 9th Annual Seed Swap & Giveaway in partnership with the Poudre River Public Library District and The Growing Project. Saturday, March 5, 2016, 10:00-2:00. Old Town Library, 201 Peterson St. Trade your seeds, knowledge & resources. Free seeds, seed-starting soil, seed packets, talks by expert gardeners. See the website for times: http://read.poudrelibraries.org/events.

9. First Friday Art Walk: http://www.thesourcedowntown.com/first-friday-gallery-walk.

10. Poudre River Public Library District not only has books and media to check out, but there are FREE classes, discussions and concerts. Explore genealogy, computer programs, Ugly Craft Night, meet authors, participate in global discussions and be part of a book group. March 11, 7:00-8:30 Harmony in the Round traditional Celtic music performed by the trio, “The Unfortunate Rakes”. http://read.poudrelibraries.org/events.

What are your favorite free things to do around town?

First Time Homebuying

Our favorite youngest daughter is getting ready to decide whether or not to buy her first home. She has made a list of Owning  vs Renting, recognizing that owning is an opportunity, but also comes with its own list of responsibilities.

As we discuss the pros and cons of owning, we have put together our Top Ten list of considerations for moving forward with a purchase. Getting your “ducks” in order is a priority.

1. Interview local REALTORS®. Find one who can give you recent market statistics, buying scenarios, financial direction and has experience negotiating in today’s marketplace in Northern Colorado. Not all markets in Colorado are the same so make sure your REALTOR® understands differences between Fort Collins, Loveland, Wellington, Windsor and all surrounding towns.

2. Gather credit information for your lender. You will need to provide recent 401 k statements, recent bank statements, recent pay stubs.

3. Preapproval from a lender is THE most important duck, not prequalification. The lender will tell you what you can afford and what your monthly payments will be. This step requires a preliminary review of your credit information. Do not increase your credit card debt, buy a new car, or apply for a new credit card. Make sure you have a copy of your last two most recent tax returns.

4. Avoid making large cash deposits to your bank account.

5. Do not make a major career change.

6. What do you have for a down payment and what are your options? Will you be gifted money, co-signing, or do you have cash saved for approximately 20% down.

7. Do research on the area/s that you want to buy. Walk the neighborhoods at different times of the day and on the weekends to observe activity and age groups. Check walkability scores, crime rates, number of rentals.

8. When negotiating your contract, realize there will be additional funds needed beyond your down payment. Inspections, appraisals, HOA transfer fees and warranties are not necessarily provided by the seller. After closing, expect the unexpected. Inspections are not foolproof and Murphy’s Law is ever present.

9. When closing on your purchase, NEVER WIRE FUNDS TO ANYONE BUT THE CLOSING AGENT. Scams are rampant. And beware of unexpected emails that ask for money to cover additional inspection costs. All of these costs should flow through your agent.

10. Before, during and after your closing, your REALTOR® should be your trusted advisor for any questions that you may have. From finding handymen to paying taxes, call your REALTOR®.

The Five Points to a Contract

 

As a Colorado Real Estate Commissioner, new contracts are part of the Commission’s responsibility. Five Commissioners from the real estate and legal professions are appointed by the Governor for 3-year terms. The contracts are designed to protect all parties to the contract. Commission-approved forms avoid the need to “reinvent the wheel” and are the basis for consistency in all Colorado real estate transactions.

Recently I helped a couple with the purchase of their first home. In my experience, there are Five Points To A Real Estate Contract and it is important to understand where the strengths and weaknesses lie in your offer (buyer) or acceptance (seller).

  1. Asking price. This is the price the homeowner sets with the aid of a Realtor. I provide the homeowner all of the latest information of range in value for their home. It is up to the seller to set the price. The homeowner has control over the price they set.
  2. Market price. This is the price that buyers will offer based upon their needs, desires, and what other homes have sold for in the neighborhood. It may be different from the asking price.
  3. Bidding War”. The Northern Colorado market is tight, especially under the $400,000 price range. Never before, in my 40 years of real estate, have I been involved in so many Bidding Wars. A Bidding War is basically multiple offers that are reviewed at the same time by the seller. A Bidding War usually starts at the Asking Price and accelerates from there. Keep in mind, All Five Points To A Real Estate Contract come into play, not simply the price.
  4. Inclusions/Exclusions. The seller determines what to include with the home sale and that is provided as Inclusions/Exclusions (may be appliances, mirrors, light fixture, et al). Although those items are/are not part of the listing, they can become a negotiating point. I like to tell the story about the $8,000 refrigerator. Years ago I was involved in a contract negotiation. The buyer wanted to include the refrigerator (and willing to pay extra for it) but the seller insisted on taking the refrigerator. The buyer “walked” and after a considerable number of days on the market, the seller sold the home for $8,000 less than the original contract.
  5. Pre-approval. Today, the strongest offers come with a” Pre-Approval” from a lender, not a Pre-Qualification. The lender furnishes a letter with the exact dollar amount for a loan that the lender will fund. During negotiation, this type of letter holds a considerable amount of weight since there is no guessing whether or not the buyer can secure a loan. Once pre-approved, the sale will only be subject to appraisal, title verification, and in some cases, additional viewing of personal financial records.
  6. It would seem a cash offer holds the most strength, but the funds must be substantiated. Therefore, the buyer must be willing to show proof they have the assets.
  7. Lots of options for loans, so a buyer who chooses their lender PRIOR to looking at houses has more leverage that someone who needs to go through the process.
  8. Additional Provisions. . There is a separate Commission form for Additional Provisions. Some of the highlights include the following.
  9. As Is and With All Faults. Property being sold based upon Buyer’s investigations through inspections.
  10. Under the new TRID rules, there are loan parameters, deadlines and limitations that need to be monitored.
  11. Home Warranty. I ALWAYS make sure my clients have a pre-owned Home Warranty to protect themselves after closing if a buyer, and during the sale process if a seller.
  12. Buyer needs to sell their home before buying the new home is “Conditional Upon Sale of a Property”.  Or not subject to an appraisal.  Contingencies protect the buyer but if there are multiple offers on a property, the contingencies can affect positioning in the offer.
  13. Closing Date and Possession. Normally, the seller has a particular reason they are selling their home, therefore the closing and possession dates are of utmost importance. The closer a buyer can come to meeting those parameters, the stronger the contract.

A Bit of Denver Broncos History…

My wife and I have had season tickets to the Denver Broncos games for 40 years. Coming from Nebraska with a great tradition of football, we jumped at the chance to buy season tickets when Kathy, our next door neighbor, announced that her father was in charge of the ticket office for the Broncos. Mile High Stadium was expanding and new seats were available. She said, “how many season tickets do you want…6?…8?” Being in our 20’s without lots of disposable income, we opted for 4 tickets.  It would be fun to drive to Denver with friends for the games and our car could only handle four passengers. We have lots of memories of the team that has been so much a part of our lives.

P.S.  Our favorite middle daughter is a HUGE Broncos fan. My wife went to every single Broncos game in 1981 when she was pregnant. Our daughter was due on Super Bowl Sunday 1982 and we joked that the new baby could be named “D”troit because of the location of the Super Bowl. When she was born, we swear she came at screaming GOOOOOOOOOOOBroncos! #DenverBroncosMemories

Here are Ten Things You May Not Know About Denver Bronco History:

  1. Mile High Stadium was expanded 1975-1977 by extending the north side upper deck and building a movable set of stands along the east side. Our new tickets were in the North Stands. As we soon learned, the South Stands were known as the “rowdy” section.
  2. Even in 1976, fans had fun with the wild and the weird! The guy across the aisle from us had a rubber chicken tied around its neck with a rope and attached to a stick. Each week he dressed the chicken in the uniform of the opposing team and would wave it in the air when the visiting team would falter. In 1977 Barrel Man appeared and then became a legend. Then in the early 80’s the Leprechaun showed up and is still part of the fabric of Mile High.
  3. Our first Bronco game was in 1975, the year Bucky the Bronco was installed at Mile High Stadium. Having grown up in the 1950’s, we were thrilled to hear that Bucky was/is an exact replica of Roy Roger’s horse, Trigger, that was made for the Roy Rogers museum. For years Bucky’s twin could be found outside the Roy Rogers museum in California and then the museum was moved to Branson, Missouri. When the museum closed, all memorabilia was sold.
  4. Part of the history of a team is the additional uses for its stadium. Our first time inside Mile High Stadium was the summer of 1974 when we moved to Colorado. We attended a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Concert with the Beach Boys as back-up! After the success of the Broncos going to the Super Bowl in 1978, Bronco player Lyle Alzado became a household name. In 1979 I went to the stadium and watched Lyle Alzado, a former boxer, and Mohammed Ali in an exhibition boxing match. The first Colorado Rockies Baseball Game I attended was at Mile High Stadium in 1993. As incoming Colorado Association of REALTORS® President we had a promotion for the association and my wife and I were lucky to be on the field prior to game time. We saw Sammy Sosa “up close and personal”. I remember thinking, “this is a strong man!”
  5. We loved listening to the big band sound of the Denver Broncos Band that played in the old Mile High Stadium. Located in the southeast corner of the end zone bleachers, they brought a touch of nostalgia to a football game. Never too loud or overwhelming, their sound was a perfect complement to the game. In the early 90’s, a DJ took over for a brief time and today, we can hardly carry on a conversation without being drowned out by the sound system.
  6. In 1977 Red Miller was signed as the new coach and he brought with him an aging Craig Morton (34 years old) as quarterback. The team was revamped and revitalized. What a season we experienced! I remember driving back to Fort Collins on Christmas Eve after defeating the Steelers. We could barely talk above a whisper after yelling and screaming for 3 hours. New Year’s Day we defeated the Raiders to become the AFC Champions and went on to our first (disastrous) Super Bowl appearance.
  7. When a team gels, the media loves to give pet names to players and the
    offense/defense.  As we all know, DEFENSE WINS GAMES! The Denver defense was so powerful that in 1977 they became known as The Orange Crush. That same year, The M&M Connection was coined: Quarterback Craig Morton completing passes to wide receiver Haven Moses. In the mid-80s with John Elway as quarterback, who could forget the Three Amigos: wide receivers Vance Johnson, Mark Jackson and Ricky Nattiel. They took us to the Super Bowl in 1987.
  8. The Denver Bronco Cheerleaders debuted in the early 70’s and in 1977 were known as the Pony Express. After a scandal in 1980, the Pony Express was disbanded. Some years we would see college cheerleaders on the sidelines and then in 1993, the official Denver Bronco Cheerleaders dance team was organized.
  9. I have always loved the story of the Broncos’ vertically striped socks the first two years in the league. At that time, the team colors were brown, mustard and white. The socks were so ugly that the team held a public bonfire to burn them all in 1962. That is the year they changed their colors to orange and blue.
  10. From 1976-1981 the Denver Broncos training camp was at our own CSU! You could take your lunch hour and watch them practice. Or, you would be walking around downtown and run into one of the players. Then UNC took over as the official training camp site for 20 years. Northern Colorado lost the pre-season training fun when Dove Valley in Denver was constructed.

What are your Broncos memories?

Home Inspection Advice

Our daughter in Austin just purchased her first home and she had lots of questions about her inspection items. Even after your inspection resolution, during the final walk-through, make sure you check the home. Sometimes it is weeks after the resolution before the walk-through.

As a real estate expert (40 years in business), I have compiled a list of inspection items that you should not miss if you are buying a home. Home inspections often rely on that which is most visible. With my clients, I make sure there is a home warranty in place that helps to protect the buyer and seller for a year after closing, especially with appliances.

1. Go through the home inside and out and run the faucets, flush the toilets, and fill the bathtubs. Check inside the toilet tank to see if there is evidence of rusting bolts. A few years ago, we had an awful experience with a leaking toilet due to a corroded bolt.

2. If  it’s an older home, you may consider hiring someone for a camera inspection of all plumbing and sewers.

3. If the owner DIY upgraded the home, make sure the work is to code with all of the proper permits. Open drawers, doors and closets to see the “inside” of their work.

4. Check balconies and decks for cracks, rusted flashing, warping and soft areas for water damage.  There are horror stories of home buyers who purchased the beauty of outside decks and later found that the supports have rotted, costing tens of thousands of dollars to cure.

5. Open and close windows and screens to make sure of their functionality.

6. If you are the home buyer, make sure you know where the main water shut-off valve is located, what kind of filters for the furnace & how to change, how to work sprinkler systems plus any other pertinent information about the workings of the home.

7. Is the main electrical panel properly labeled?

8. Are smoke detectors and CO2 detectors properly installed and operating?

9. What is happening on the roof and in the attic? Make sure there are no critters living up there.

10. Make sure the ventilation and insulation is adequate. When we moved into our new home 20 years ago our bath pipes above the garage froze. The builders forgot to put insulation around the pipes.

New Listing! Shore Pine Ct

I have a new luxury listing in the middle of Fort Collins, on a private lake, and with beautiful mountain views! The architect and custom builder are long-time Fort Collins residents so they take pride in their work. In fact, the architect lives across the lake!

Having lived in Fort Collins for 42 years, I have seen builders come and go.  It is a testament to those that have staying power of their craftsmanship, reputation, and community involvement. The owners of the home had a vision and Rick Splittgerber (Splittgerber Professional Builders) and Frank Vaught (Vaught Frye Larson Architects) brought it to life in the most stunning of ways. Here are my favorite things about this extraordinary new listing.

ShorePine-807-28

Open Layout

  1. Uninterrupted views of Horsetooth Mountain from across Harmony Reservoir. The home sits on the lake with a private dock. The home is oriented in such a way that you enjoy the morning sun until the sunset colors reflect off the water from your favorite rooms, patio or balcony. The residents’ favorite spots are from the Master Suite Office and long kitchen granite bar.
  2. Outdoor living in Colorado is a given. This home has 2600 square feet of concrete patios, plus balconies, wrap around porches and a dining courtyard. The mature landscaping creates privacy yet openness to perfect weather. If you are chilled in the evening, cuddle up to the fire pit on the water, infrared heater on the patio or outdoor fireplace. On a warm summer day, the outdoor ceiling fan of the covered patio keeps you cool.
  3. What’s not to love about an open floor plan??!! The Grand Entry welcomes guests to an expansive view of the Dining Room, open Kitchen, Great Room, Library, Powder Room and soaring Staircase. If that isn’t enough, climb the open stairs to the second floor and be amazed by the huge Family Room with barrel ceiling that opens to a Rooftop Deck overlooking the water.
  4. The home is smart! It features a Savant control system that provides control from any IOS device (iPhone/iPad). Savant offers easy and intuitive control of lighting, security, climate and entertainment systems. Additionally, remote access to these systems will provide peace of mind when you are out of town. If you forget to set your lights to vacation mode or need to confirm the security system is armed, you have that remote ability. And did I mention the home has 3 miles of wiring? Vantage Lighting Control System provides house-wide scene control and automatic routines based on the time of day.
  5. Radiant in-floor heating. The comfort zone of the body starts with our feet! Take your shoes off and enjoy the warmth of every room, including the garages. Each room is separately controlled allowing you to heat only the room you want.

    ShorePine-807-27

    Library

  6. Solar panels. 24 photovoltaic panels (Sharp 175) have a rating of 4,200 (Watts DC). Panels were recently inspected and found to be in good working order.
  7. Built for “aging in place”, the handicapped or the elderly, the home is well planned to accommodate residents or visitors. A 3-stop National Wheel-O-Vater elevator is centrally located but inconspicuous, allowing easy access to all floors. Low thresholds on entry doors, blocking for future safety railings, and 36” doorways. The upstairs design is perfect for guest quarters or living quarters with a large Family Room and three ensuite bedrooms.
  8. Living the good life! Every detail has been addressed for your enjoyment and comfort of living. The gourmet kitchen has expansive built-ins and a butler’s pantry. The Great Room extends towards the lake where you enjoy a wall of windows as you play your grand piano. If reading is your passion, an amazing library will capture your heart and soul. Do you need His and Hers offices? You are covered. How about laundry rooms on the first and second floor. Yup. Low maintenance landscaping with perennials and gardens? Check. Convenient location in the heart of Fort Collins from which you can bike or walk to restaurants, shopping and amenities? You bet.
  9. Quality materials throughout the home. Real stone, stucco and timber exterior with 2×6 construction. High-efficiency windows, DaVinci Shake multi-width composite shake roofing tiles are reminiscent of the texture of natural cedar. Hickory hardwood floors, stained alder cabinetry, travertine or tile floors in the bathrooms, custom accents, hand-crafted walls and painting.
  10. Some luxury homes have a “hands off” attitude. This home feels like home. From the moment you walk through the door, you feel relaxed. This home is for living, entertaining friends and family, being creative and enjoying the best of Colorado.
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Music Room/Eating Area

May the Source Be With You!

In 1977 Star Wars was released and “May the Force be with you” became a buzz phrase. The Group, Inc. Real Estate Company (TGI) was launched in 1976 and the next year adapted the phrase, “May the Source be with you”. From the beginning, TGI wanted to be more than just a real estate company where agents helped clients buy and sell real estate. They wanted to be the place where all real estate related questions could be answered…the Source. Last night’s economic forecast at Embassy Suites was at full capacity and the TGI Source presented data and predictions for the coming year in Fort Collins/Northern Colorado.

The Real Estate Story in Fort Collins/Northern Colorado for 2016 indicates there will continue to be a shortage of inventory in the mid to low price ranges, affecting entry level buyers. Here are the top ten factors.

  1. Home appreciation in Fort Collins/Northern Colorado will continue to lead the nation. For the one-year period ending September 30, 2015, Fort Collins was ranked 9th in the nation for home price appreciation (12.87%) and Greeley ranked 10th (12.72%). From 1991-2015 Colorado had a 263.98% appreciation rate compared to the US rate of 122.35%. This trend will continue.
  2. Affordability: the true cost of housing. Colorado ranks mid-range for housing costs with California being the highest and North Dakota the lowest. The factors that affect housing costs are house price, house payment, utilities, household income and property taxes.
  3. Fort Collins is on pace to be the next Boulder County in 10 years for housing costs. Boulder County is land-locked (they have no more land on which to build) and as a result their average home price is twice the price of Fort Collins. TGI for years has been tracking a specific home builder’s 1,000 sq. foot ranch-style home from the late 50’s-early 60’s. The identical Wheeler home was built in Boulder, Fort Collins and Greeley. The appreciation trend has been the same for more than 20 years. In 2015 a Wheeler Greeley home sold for $177,000; in Fort Collins $341,000; and in Boulder $610,000.
  4. Fort Collins Build Out. Fort Collins is quickly running out of land on which to build. Today, 50,000 workers commute to Boulder each day.
  5. Drive ‘till you qualify. With affordable housing being an increasing problem in Fort Collins, first time home buyers are finding their American Dream in Greeley, Loveland, Wellington, Johnstown/Millikin and Severance.
  6. Where are the condos? Condos are a great way to enter the home buying market and help the affordable housing crunch in Fort Collins. However, due to Colorado’s strict Construction Defect laws, a normal 30% market is currently at 3.8%. Builders do not want the liability. Only legislation in Denver can change this alarming trend. Last week TGI searched the MLS for 2 BR/2BA single car garage condos in the $150,000-$300,000 range. There were only 5 for sale. Lenders will not lend on condo projects under litigation so cash buyers or investors are the only option.
  7. Apartment conversions. Watch for this possible trend in Fort Collins. The statute of limitations is 6 years for builder litigation. How will this affect the market in Fort Collins? In December 2015, median monthly rent in Fort Collins for a 2 BR apartment was $1,150 (Loveland $900, Greeley $860). Will paychecks increase as rents increase?
  8. CSU Stadium opportunity. With the new stadium being built on campus, will the old stadium site be an opportunity for CSU to build a neighborhood of affordable housing for its employees? This is a dialogue that needs to be started.
  9. If employment is a leading indicator for housing needs by 12-18 months, Fort Collins and Northern Colorado are going to needs more housing. Larimer County has a 3.4% growth rate and 3.5% unemployment. That means in 2017, 5,000 more people will need to find housing in Larimer County.
  10. Main Street and Wall Street. At the end of last year interest rates were predicted to go up to 5%-5.5%. With the downturn of the stock market, that figure has now been adjusted downward to stay in the 4% range. This should affect the housing market in a positive way.