Denver Real Estate Blog
Denver Chalk Art Festival (June 4 -5)
"The art you'll encounter during the festival isn't in galleries - it's on the pavement! The event features more than 150 professional and amateur artists who will spend hours on their hands and knees over the course of two days transforming Larimer Square into a bright and colorful street museum using vivid pastel chalks." Learn event details here.
Denver Botanic Gardens Concert Series (June - Sept)
"Situated in one of the nation's top botanic gardens, these concerts offer an unrivaled ambience, pairing a breathtaking setting with music from some of the world's most sought-after acts." Click here to learn more.
National Get Outdoors Day (June 11)
"Getting involved in Get Outdoors Day will mean you are part of a nationwide effort to reconnect American youth with outdoor activities and healthy lifestyles. Visit our interactive event where you can fish, bike, jump, garden, climb, paint, build, paddle, learn, dance, jump, eat, explore, and play! This event is accessible. We'll also host multiple stage activities and live music throughout the day alongside Denver Bronco Cheerleaders and PBS' Nature Cat." Visit event website here.
Taste of the Broncos (June 14)
"Taste of the Broncos is a casual, outdoor, tailgate style, fun-filled party at Sports Authority Field at Mile High! And, it's all for a great cause! Walking restaurant tour featuring some of Denver's most highly regarded chefs and their specialties, including Taste of the NFL's and Denver's own Troy Guard of TAG Restaurant Group. Live entertainment, including blue grass bands performing on the Noble Energy Sports Legends Mall with post event entertainment. Denver Broncos players, cheerleaders, alumni and Miles appearing as 'sous chefs'." Buy tickets here.
Do at the Zoo (June 16)
"Come celebrate all the amazing things Do At The Zoo has helped Denver Zoo accomplish over the past 26 years. Graze on sample dishes from over 60 of the city's finest restaurants and belly up to the watering hole for unlimited drinks featuring the region's best beer, wine and cocktails, all while enjoying our community's top live entertainment." Buy tickets here.
Denver Comic Con (June 17 - 19)
"Denver Comic Con is a three-day fan convention featuring celebrities and the best of popular television shows, movies, Japanese animation, cosplay, toys, gaming, sci-fi/fantasy, and of course, comic books." Learn more here.
Westword Music Showcase (June 25 )
"The Westword Music Showcase is the largest music festival celebrating the Denver scene. It runs from noon to 10 p.m. on June 25, and tickets are now on sale." Learn event details here.
Colorado Markets (Dates Vary)
"Colorado Fresh Markets presents a high quality group of Colorado growers and unique local gourmet food vendors representing the best of the Rocky Mountain region. Enjoy chef demonstrations, kitchen and garden products, gardening tips from Master Gardeners, live music and more in a fun and festive open-air shopping environment." Learn locations here.
The question I’m asked all the time by friends, colleagues and clients who are still renting is whether it’s too late to buy a home. "Are we heading for a big downturn?" and "Are we too deep in the market cycle to buy?" they wonder. For those of you who read my newsletter and know me well the following will sound familiar but it bears repeating: timing the real estate market perfectly is extremely difficult (maybe even impossible) and those who try usually fail. So don’t try to time the market. Instead, look at factors like the ones below to see if home ownership is right for you.
Consider Your Timing
You should buy a home when you feel it’s the right time in your life to do so. Don’t try to time the market, instead time your life. Are you getting married? Sick of paying skyrocketing rents? Looking for a bigger place for you and your family? Want your own backyard for the kids to play in? Want to be part of a neighborhood community? Plan on staying in one place for a number of years? Want to build long-term wealth? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when considering whether you want to own a home. To the extent you say yes, home ownership might be the answer for you.
One important stat to keep in mind is that the average rental household in the U.S. has a total net worth of only $5,800. In contrast, the average homeowner has a net worth of $199,500 — that’s 34 times those who rent! There’s no doubt that over the long term, home ownership is the tried and true path to wealth accumulation and financial security. (So is owning rental property, by the way. Call me if you’d like to learn more about that as well.)
Consider Interest Rates
Interest rates remain at record lows but this can’t last forever. No one knows when they’re going to rise (remember, you can’t time the market!), but rise they will at some point in the future. Though home prices have gone up the past several years, low interest rates continue to make homes relatively affordable - especially compared to renting. Once interest rates do rise the window of home ownership affordability will truly begin to close for a lot of potential buyers. They will be sorry they didn’t act when interest rates were at 50-year lows.
To illustrate the numbers, assume you are purchasing a $210,000 condo with a 5 percent down payment. The Principle + Interest payment at 4 percent interest would be $952 per month. Just a 1 percent interest rate increase to 5 percent would result in a payment of $1,070 per month for a total increase of $128/month and $1,416/year. Now assume that rates tick up to 6 percent. That increase would result in a 21 percent increase in payments from $952 to $1,196. Where you really see the effect of these increases is when you hold the property for the full 30 years. On a $210,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that increases from 4 to 5 percent, the borrower who obtains the 5 percent loan would pay an additional $42,772 in extra interest as opposed to the borrower who paid just 4 percent interest. That’s 21.4 percent of the total loan amount! This is why a lot of folks who don’t purchase a home while interest rates are near record lows are going to regret it down the road.
Consider Long Term Benefits
The main reason the average home owner has so much more personal wealth than the average condo owner is that, over time, homes appreciate in value. Over the past 45 years, homes in metro Denver appreciated 6.3 percent per year. If you buy a $200,000 home, you can expect over the long term its value to rise about 6 percent every year. This means you’d make $12,000 in appreciation the first year, an additional $12,720 the second year, another $13,483 in the third year, and on and on. An important fact to note is that in only 4 of the past 45 years did prices actually fall in metro Denver. So if you want to build wealth, your best bet may be to take advantage of these numbers and buy a home for the long term. I can help you do this. Call me and let me show you how.
As realtors in the Denver area, we have made many friends. It is not uncommon to have past clients reach out, share updates, and become part of our lives. Sometimes the stories are wonderful and uplifting, but other times they can be sad. As we approach spring I wanted to highlight an item that often gets overlooked in our cleaning lists: the dryer vents. While most of us hear that we need to clean out the dryer lint, rarely do we actually do it. This can be a very dangerous oversight.
Your Family is the Most Important
In 2010, the National Fire Prevention Agency announced that nearly 16,800 dryer and washing machine fires caused 51 deaths, over 380 injuries and approximately $236,000,000 in property damages. Yes these statistics are almost six years old, but when is the last time you cleaned, let alone checked, your dryer vents? Lint is one of the most flammable items in your house and combined with our low humidity environment it is literally a volatile situation.
What You Need to Do
First and foremost, ditch the white plastic dryer vents and replace with metallic vent pipes with UL listing. While the white plastic is easy to install and control, it allows more buildup and restricts airflow. In addition, if there is a fire the plastic starts on fire as well, spreading it more quickly. When replacing the pipe to the wall vent, make sure you don’t use extra pipe. The shortest pipe is the safest.
Clean your vents and dryer at least once a year and spring is a great time. During the fall and winter we tend to do larger and more loads of laundry. This creates more lint, especially from heavier sweaters, ski gear and cold weather gear. Remove the vent pipe and clean it out. You should also reach into the hole in the back of your dryer and clean or vacuum it out as well. Make sure you unplug the dryer first.
Go Outside to Protect the Inside
You will also want to go outside and check to make sure the dryer is venting properly. The vent flap should be opening wide when the dryer is in operation and there should not be a lint build up. If there is a lint build up, you may want to hire a professional to clean the vents or do it yourself. Never use a dryer without a lint trap, and make sure it is cleaned after every load. Also wash the lint trap in soapy water at least once a month to reduce fabric softener build up.
So Now I have ALL this Lint
We have you covered. Stuff the lint in used toilet paper rolls and put inside a plastic storage bag. Then bring it when you go camping. If you haven’t already figured it out, it is a great fire starter because it burns hot and lights easily and is quicker than finding twigs. You can also make dryer link clay - see how here. This may help get the kids involved in the cleaning process. In fact, make some dryer lint clay creations and email them to us and we may use them in a future post. You could be famous!
We Love our Clients
I will admit, cleaning out a dryer vent pipe is not my idea of fun, but when I look at my children I know that it is important. We want you and your entire family to be safe and I hope this post will help you understand the value of this little chore. An added benefit is if you keep track of your cleaning schedule, it can be an additional positive attribute added to your home when it’s time to sell. So be safe, get it done, and keep on enjoying your Denver home.
Springtime in Denver means beautiful days, melting snow, and rain. It also means mud, especially if you love getting back on the trails that have been covered during winter or have begun backyard gardening. Whether you are on city paths, mountain treks, or the backyard farm — 'tis the season for mud, and most often your carpet becomes the victim.
It’s Going to Happen
First and foremost I urge you to remain calm. Someone, your spouse, kids or even you, will walk on the carpet with muddied shoes or feet. It is inevitable. Even when you think you have all the variables covered and you are peacefully drinking your morning coffee, you may look up in horror to see your dog trudge across the room leaving telltale tracks of her morning explorations. Preparation is essential, and if you are ready, you can resolve any issue.
Prevention is Key
Most of our Denver homes do not have the traditional mud room, but we can create temporary substitutes for this time of year. Designate an area where dirty shoes are to be immediately removed. Highly organized families will have a back-door only policy during this time of year where you will find old carpet squares, plastic or rubber mats, or even large bussing tubs like you see in restaurants.
Muddied shoes are required to be placed in the tub or on the mats before entering the house. You will also want to have towels and perhaps a clothes basket handy just in case things have gotten completely out of hand. Make sure to wipe your pet’s feet before they come in as well. The extra time and possible growl is well worth the effort.
What to Do When Preventative Measures Fail
Do not Scrub! Our first instinct is to rush over with a rag and scrub the mess right out. Unfortunately, this only serves to push the mud deeper into the fibers and in most cases spread the stain. In fact, the best thing to do in most cases is to let the mud dry completely before you do anything. After the mud is dry gently brush up the loose dirt or vacuum depending on the size of the spot.
If the carpet is stained, there are plenty of commercial carpet cleaners available at your local store. I recommend testing these in an inconspicuous area to make sure they don’t bleach or discolor the carpet. I have also found that a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap in 2 cups of warm water will do the trick, especially on mud. Use a clean cloth, preferably white, and blot at the stain. Again, resist the temptation to scrub. Keep blotting until all the liquid is absorbed and the stain is gone. White cloths are nice because you can see if you are picking up dirt. Don’t overdo it. Sometimes it takes a few attempts to get it all out especially on light colored carpets. Here’s a good YouTube video to help:
Don’t let a little mud keep you from having fun. Homes are where we share our adventures and stories from great days outside in and around Denver. If you’re thinking of selling your home or are already in the process, feel free to give us a call for some great tips on how to keep your white carpet clean during showings. In the meantime, if your family and pets are as active as mine, perhaps set up a yearly professional carpet cleaning budget to be utilized at the end of every spring. Now get out, have fun, and enjoy Denver!
Cinco de Mayo (May 7 - 8)
"A weekend filled with food, fun and culture, Denver's Cinco de Mayo 'Celebrate Culture' Festival puts the spotlight on The Mile High City's vibrant Latino population. With more than 400,000 attendees expected, it's one of Denver's most fun and family-friendly events." Learn event details here.
Furry Scurry (May 7)
"Your registration and participation in the Furry Scurry help the Dumb Friends League care for more than 20,000 homeless pets each year. Come celebrate the wonderful pets in your life and help those who are still waiting to find their forever family." Click here to learn more.
Mother's Day 5k and Brunch (May 8)
"Each registration includes a gourmet brunch from Goddess Catering in the park following the race for all participants. Again this year, we'll have race-time childcare, the annual kids race, a fabulous post-race expo, awesome prizes and much more that the whole family can enjoy." Visit event website here.
Colorado Bike Festival (May 13 - 14)
"The two day festival and consumer show will also include BMX flatland and aerial stunts, a play zone, adult big wheel races, learn to ride clinics, strider course, sprint competitions, demo area, Giro d'Italia viewing party, antique bicycle display, bands, beer garden and food trucks!" Learn more here.
Five Points Jazz Festival (May 21)
"The free festival celebrates the history of Denver's Five Points neighborhood. Once known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points was home to several jazz clubs which played host to many of jazz music's legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many more. Come out to Five Points to enjoy this free festival of music, food, culture and fun." Learn more here.
Once (May 24 - 29)
"Featuring an ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, once tells the tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs." Learn event details here.
Denver Day of Rock (May 28)
"Denver Day of Rock is a one-day music festival benefiting the work of Amp the Cause. This free event features five stages of live music along Denver's 16th Street Mall on Memorial Day weekend." Check out the 2016 restaurant list here.
Memorial Day Weekend in Denver (May 28 - 30)
Are you Ready to celebrate? When Memorial Day weekend rolls around in Denver, we really go big. Enjoy Memorial Day events and festivals (many are free), pro sports, live music, fresh museum exhibits, amazing theater and much more!" Learn about Memorial Day events here.
Five Essential Things To Know About the 2016 Summer Home Buying Market
This year has kicked off with an array of experts trumpeting the Denver housing market's strength and resilience. Inventory is at record lows, home prices continue to rise, and foreclosure activity has ebbed to lows not seen since before the 2007 downturn. Spring and summer is the time for selling houses. The months of April, May, June, and July typically account for more than 40 percent of all housing transactions annually, thanks in large part to good weather.
1. Inventory shortages: The number of available homes in metro Denver has plunged to record lows, thanks to both an abnormally small supply of existing homes for sale and a dearth of new construction not keeping pace with the current demand. Today there are only about 5,000 properties on the market. During the downturn there were over 30,000 on the market! The tight inventory makes it a great time to sell a home and a challenging time to be a buyer. With my experience and expertise I can help you with either. Call me and let me show you how.
2. Increased Competition: In addition to a dwindling supply of available homes, the number of buyers has surged. And not just traditional buyers - investors have comprised a sizeable chunk of the buyer pool since the downturn and continue to do so. Real estate investors are responsible for about 25 percent of the existing home sales each month. It’s not uncommon these days to see streams of buyers along with their agents walking into homes as we are showing property.
You, the prospective buyer, need to be prepared to move fast if you find a property you'd like to buy. "Buyers need to be patient because many will be outbid by others and might have to bid on multiple homes," cautions Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. Yes, indeed.
3. Cash is Still King: Given the steep competition, all-cash buyers who can close a deal relatively quickly offer great incentive to sellers. "Cash will still be king if there are multiple bids because from a seller's view, they want a deal with fewer hiccups," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. My sellers are surprised to hear that about 30 percent of home sales each month are all-cash purchases. For the 70 percent of buyers who purchase with loans, strong lender letters issued by excellent loan officers are critical.
4. The Good News: Lending Tree chief executive Doug Leboda says in light of the recently unveiled new home-lending standards, lenders are slowly starting to make it slightly easier to get approved. Talk to a couple of lenders, they’ll tell you things have improved over the past few years on the loan front. Take the time to find a great lender -- it’ll make a big difference in your ability to purchase a property.
5. More Good News: We are seeing a definite correction in the appraisal business. A few years ago appraisers were consistently under-valuing properties, reacting to the over-conservative nature of their shell-shocked underwriter patrons. Today we are seeing the vast majority of appraisals coming in at value, killing far fewer deals than in the past.
Even if you don’t live in the Denver metro, March through May can stir up quite a few gnarly storms. We’ve already seen dramatic video of storm damage from around the country and we need to realize we could be victims ourselves. However, thunderstorms and high winds don’t have to be something to fear. You could curl up with a good book and a cup of warm tea if you take some steps before hand to get your home ready.
Raising the Roof
Even contractors look at the home top down. If a home is to sustain damage, 90% of the time the roof is involved. So, how do you prepare? Take a look at your trusses. Do they have roof sheathing attached? And, like many construction items, installation is key. This sheathing has to be done with ring-shank nails, which can double the holding power. If you are uncertain about the sheathing or the installation, it is better to seek professional help, as storms are nothing to play around with.
Just Outside Your Windows
Denver has some of the most amazing views in the world. Of course, we want our homes to have plenty of windows. But, no one wants those windows to be damaged in a storm. Storm shutters and storm windows are specifically made to withstand quite a strong storm. Plain glass windows can be damaged in storms, and become dangerous because they become sharp flying objects. Replacing them with double-paned storm windows could save your pocket book and prevent injuries.
In Colorado, we love our landscaping, that is for sure. However, be sure to cut back on tall bushes around your house to protect your windrows from broken, flying limbs. Take the same care to trim tree branches, so they don’t fall on your roof. Look at your trees. The ones that look like a “V” are more likely to break than the ones resembling a “U” at the branch joints. Are any trees dead? Cut them down, as they can uproot easily during rainfall and windy conditions.
Doors are another vulnerable area of most homes. Many doors don’t have pins strong enough to withstand really strong winds. The American Red Cross recommends adding more bolts to a “weak” door. This usually runs between $10 and $40. The large, flat horizontal slats on a garage door break relatively easy when battered by winds. If you install horizontal bracing to each panel, your garage doors have a better bet at making it through the storm in one piece. In fact, your garage door manufacturer may have a bracing kit for sale. Many do. For more information, click here.
When I was in college I lived in a house with five other guys. We had one standard rule that was intended for the safety and comfort of us all. If you had not showered, you were required to wear a hat as a public service announcement to the residents of the home. I have to admit this was a very effective means of communication and allowed us to avoid or accept our roommate’s current status.
While this worked great for a bunch of college kids, when you are showing your house to prospective buyers, wearing a hat or attempting to disguise nasty smells can ultimately leave potential prospects with a bad taste in their mouth. It can be worse during Denver winters when it is harder to air out your home. We sell houses year round, and while a closed home can be a slight inconvenience, it is easy to keep it smelling fresh and inviting.
Identify the Culprits and Eliminate the Odor
One of the biggest odoriferous offenders is food. Lingering smells can quickly become the focus of potential buyers. Make sure all leftovers and food scraps are immediately taken outside to the garbage can or put into the compost pile. Leaving them in the house only adds to food smells. If your favorite dish is fish, my advice while you are selling your home, is to enjoy it at a restaurant and leave the leftovers there.
If your kitchen still has the remnants of past meals or perhaps an overcooked dish try boiling a few tablespoons of vinegar in water or leave a small bowl of vinegar on the counter overnight. This will absorb the smells. The rule of thumb is, leave out the vinegar until you only smell vinegar then pour it down the drain. The vinegar smell will air out quickly and your kitchen will smell clean.
Is There a Fire Burning?
I love a nice wood fire in the winter, but the smell can permeate the house even after it is out. Keep the fireplace cleared of ashes and close the flue when not in use. This will keep the sooty smell from the home. You may also want to refrain from having fires while selling your home just in case someone is allergic to the smoke.
I Smell Feet
Often overlooked items in the winter are snow boots and cold weather gear. After a fun day of playing in the snow, these items can get piled up and start to get a life of their own. Make sure these items are dry before you put them away, or if you have kids and they are always wet, wash them frequently. Boots can be made to smell better with baking soda and in extreme cases disinfectant spray. For the most part, try to keep these items in the garage or someplace out of the main traffic areas.
Get Some Help
Most of us have no idea how our house smells because we have become accustomed to it. I recommend enlisting the help of a good but brutally honest friend with a sensitive nose. Have them walk through your home and tell you what they smell. Ask them to identify bad and overly good smells. While air fresheners may help, too much is like middle school and high school kids bathing themselves in perfume or cologne. Some clients have had great results with simply boiling some leftover Christmas tree trimmings and cinnamon every few days. It adds a festive touch to the air and gives the home a holiday spirit. Also here is a GoodHouskeeping.com article on more ways to eliminate household odors.
Unfortunately, you will always have to deal with last minute showings or even your own college kids, but if you are prepared in advance, you can feel comfortable leaving your home knowing it smells fresh. If you have any other questions about selling your home in the winter, please give us a call at 303-991-9878 or contact us. We would love to help.
Baseball fans, it is time to head to the ballpark! Colorado Rockies tickets for all 2016 home games at Coors Field are on sale now. Get tickets here.
Off the Clock: Vintage Victorian (April 1)
"Warm up a spring evening with food, music, botany and cocktails after-hours at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Taking place in the lush Orangery, tropical Marnie's Pavilion and Boettcher Memorial Center, Off the Clock explores plants with live music, activities, drinks and more." Click here to learn more.
Spring Break: Journey to South America (Now - April 10)
"Beat the crowds and get to the Zoo early, with $5 off admission between 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. any morning of the event. The Zoo will be celebrating all things South America with keeper talks, activity stations and cultural entertainment. Don't miss out on this Spring Break staycation to the Southern Hemisphere!" Visit event website here.
Sweeney Todd (April 8 - May 15)
"DeVotchKa, the Grammy-nominated, Denver hometown music heroes, take on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a delicious reinvention of Sondheim's magnificent musical thriller." Buy tickets here.
Earth Day Denver (April 22)
"Earth Day Denver is free and open to the general public. We especially encourage residents, employees, community partners, and teachers and students in the downtown area to visit the event and learn new ways to live sustainably!
2016's event will focus on interactive displays and demonstrations for the public tied to: My Home, My Work, and My Community." Learn more here.
Doors Open Doors (April 23 - 24)
"Doors Open Denver is an annual celebration of Denver's built environment and design. The two-day event allows residents and visitors to tour the spectacular buidlings they see every day but may never have entered. It allows the public to truly experience and develop a new appreciation for their home town and the facilities that comprise Denver's rich architectural landscape." Learn event details here.
Dining Out for Life (April 28)
"Dine out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on April 28, 2016 and support and important cause. Last year, thanks to thousands of diners and more than 250 Denver and Boulder-area restaurants, an estimated $300,000 was raised to support Project Angel Heart's home-delivered meal program!" Check out the 2016 restaurant list here.
Urban Wine and Chocolate Run (April 29 - April 30)
"The URBAN WINE RUN starts with a pre-race party on Friday evening to pick up your race package and concludes on Saturday with an amazing 5k run and/or a WineK (1k) walk with through one of Denver's premier outdoor venues all while enjoying the BEST PARTY IN TOWN!" Get more information here.
With so many Denver homeowners expecting income tax returns, home projects are on the “to do” lists of many of us in the Mile High city. However, everyone wants to have a little fun money apart from required maintenance. The best way to save on home repairs and upgrades is to save money on labor by doing it yourself. You don’t have to be in construction to make affordable and easy upgrades to your home after work and on weekends.
Renovating the bathroom is often quite affordable on a budget. With a few well-placed face lifts, you can modernize your bathroom for under $500. The vanity and basin really are the central piece to any size or shape of bathroom. A granite vanity with updated faucets and fixtures make the fixins’ of a fantastic weekend project that won’t steal your return.
Light Up your Life
Lighting upgrades are wonderful ways to touch up multiple spaces in your home. Want even more to do yourself? Pinterest and multiple spots on the internet provide fun and easy ways to create your own lighting, and give your Denver home a personal touch. In the library, make book lamps. Love the “wild west” motif in your living room? Try a cowboy hat lighting option.
Much like lighting and fixtures, a few small enhancements to the entryway of your home go a long way toward greeting spring with an updated face. Door styles change quickly, and Denver is no exception. Modernizing your door gives a nice warm greeting to all your guests this coming summer. If your return wasn’t that impressive, spruce up your door with fresh paint and fixtures. Each spring home improvements stores throughout the Denver metro run wonderful sales on potted plants to decorate your porch. Don’t forget about a seasonal rug to highlight the new door color!
Make the Kitchen a Focal Point
It is no secret that the kitchen is considered the heart of any home. Regrettably, it is also no secret that kitchen upgrades are among the most expensive. Picking a few cosmetic changes can be a work around on a budget. If you combine the lighting suggestions with new fixtures, maybe even repainting your cabinets, your kitchen can look completely new without making your bank account look empty. Consider an economical backsplash. It isn’t as expensive as granite or marble countertops, but is a “room-wide” upgrade. You can even choose among wallpaper, tin ceiling tiles, or wood work for an affordable but fresh look.
DIY Denver Style
Denver citizens love to work hard and play hard. With quick and affordable DIY projects, we can still keep most of the money we work hard for and still have time to continue with our play time. The mountains don’t have to be the only beautiful scenery. Our homes can be just as elegant a backdrop for the breathtaking views. Enjoy your weekend projects and stay safe on those peaks after they're done!