Posts Tagged ‘homes for sale northern colorado’

10 Tips for Buying a Home in Northern Colorado – Mike Nelson Real Estate

Posted: June 9, 2013 in Uncategorized
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1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you’ll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. If you can’t put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a small down payment.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don’t have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you’ll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points — a portion of the interest that you pay at closing — in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time — say three to five years or more — it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that’s about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that’s just the bank’s way of determining whether the house is worth the price you’ve agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

Home Design Tips Northern Colorado – Mike Nelson Real Estate

Posted: June 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Simple design rules

Before you get started on updating your living space, Pam Lampe says to stop and think about what makes a room flow. Here are some design rules to keep in mind.

  • Artwork – Adding apiece of artwork to your main walls can give a focal point to a room, as well as help inspire a color or texture that ties the room together. Remember the biggest wall in the room should have the biggest pieces on them. Lampe says it is important to keep the scale of the room in mind when buy-ing pieces. Also, keep rooms intimate by not lining the walls with furniture, but create groupings instead.
  • Accessories – Lampe says accessories are important because they complete the space. Accessories can include pillows, floor rugs, vases and candle holders. Accessories can also help individualize your space.
  • Window coverings – Window treatments can make a huge difference in a room, because it adds vertical appeal, Lampe says.
  • Lighting – Lighting is often forgotten and can add a lot to a room.Lampe says homeowners should think about ambiance lighting, overhead lighting and task lighting.Updating fixtures can be simple and make a big im-pact.
  • Paint – Adding paint to a room is a relatively inexpensive update. Lampe says if you feel confused when choosing a color, re-member to stick with a color from the middle down on the paints watch. If you are looking for a punch wall go with a color from the middle up.To really spice things up include some of 2010s hot tribal colors, such as sienna red or orange.
  • Flooring – Changing out the flooring can also be a great update, especially if you are doing a re-model. From carpet to tile to laminates, the possibilities are limitless.


4 tips for finding the best home inspector – Northern Colorado Homes for Sale – Mike Nelson Real Estate

Posted: June 6, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Buying a house is the biggest purchase you’ll likely ever make. That’s why you want the best possible home inspector in your corner to tell you whether that cute Colonial is your dream home … or a lemon with a rotting foundation, termites and a shaky chimney.

But first, how do you know if an inspector is rock-solid? There’s a lot riding on the person you choose, after all. “You’ve got one shot at having the home looked at by a professional who has a professional eye and professional training to find defects,” says Jim Turner, certified home inspector in Southern California.

We’ve grilled the experts for their top tips on how to find and vet a home inspector.

A messy frontier

There are 20,000 to 30,000 home inspectors nationwide today, estimates Turner, who is also president of the 20-year-old National Association of Home Inspectors, which has about 1,500 members. He says many inspectors were lured into the business by promises of easy money. No wonder would-be homeowners have trouble knowing whom to trust.

Unfortunately, only about half of states require any kind of certification or licensing for home inspectors. “For example, in New Mexico, there are no requirements to being a home inspector,” says inspector Bill Richardson, owner of Albuquerque’s Responsive Inspections and president-elect of the American Society of Home Inspectors. “You can just hang your shingle and go for it.”

However, Turner adds, “Licensing doesn’t solve problems with the industry.” He points out that after licensing was instituted in Texas, the number of inspectors jumped several fold, as would-be inspectors signed up to benefit from the glow of respectability that a state license would give them – whether or not they actually deserved respectability, Turner says.

Tip No. 1: Don’t trust an inspector simply because he or she has a state license or certification. All states that issue licenses require training, “but the training may be so minimal that it is ineffective,” Turner says.

So now what? Well, move on to Lesson No. 2.

Tip No. 2: Look for an inspector who is associated with a professional inspection organization. This  can help weed out the truly fly-by-night inspectors, but it won’t catch all the bad actors. There is an alphabet soup of such groups, with wildly varying criteria for membership. In one, “you can send them a $60 check and you’ll be a member,” says Mike Kuhn, a New Jersey home inspector and co-author of “The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Home Inspections.”

Look for affiliation with groups such as NAHI, the National Institute of Building Inspectors, and the American Society of Home Inspectors. These are some of the most reputable inspector associations, and their Web sites have a “find an inspector” service to locate a member in your area.

You can also study several home inspection organizations’ criteria for membership: how many homes a would-be member must have inspected; how much — if any — continuing education is required; whether an exam is required for admission, etc. Each is a little different. Inspectors who are fully certified by ASHI, the nation’s oldest such group, with 5,700 members, are required to have completed at least 250 paid professional home inspections and passed two written exams, for example.

Professional Services

Find local plumbers, electricians, contractors and more.

Tip No. 3: Don’t just take your agent’s recommendation at face value. Real-estate agents often recommend inspectors to home buyers. But that arrangement doesn’t necessarily serve the home buyer well, since both agent and inspector have a financial incentive for things to go well: for the agent, a commission, and for the inspector, the possibility of repeat business from the agent. “Every single day we walk a razor’s edge with that conflict of interest,” Turner acknowledges. He adds, though, that “the good Realtors are going to recommend an inspector who’s not going to be afraid of what he calls out.”

Still, experts suggest some ways to make sure your interests are served:

  • Don’t be monogamous. Get more than one suggestion from your real-estate agent. Turner suggests asking for three inspectors’ names. Richardson says to ask for five.
  • Ask the tough questions. “Ask the agent flat out, ‘Would you hire any of these to inspect your home, or your family’s home?'” Turner says. “It kind of puts them on the spot.” Also, ask the agent or others you know, “Who’s the deal-killer in this area?” advises Ilona Bray, co-author of “Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home.” In other words, who’s the crusty inspector with a reputation for mucking up deals because he finds all of a home’s flaws. That’s who you want.

Tip No. 4: Grill him. Once you’ve got an inspector in your sights, start sniffing around his résumé and asking questions. “We have a phrase: ‘Inspect the inspector,'” Kuhn says.

Here’s what to do:

  • Check for complaints. If your state licenses inspectors, call the licensing board, or whatever body oversees them (in Texas it is the real-estate board), and ask if the inspector is active and up-to-date. Also, “ask if there are any complaints against the inspector,” Turner suggests.Call the professional association to which the inspector belongs and do the same, though Turner concedes that these organizations don’t see that many complaints – “maybe a dozen a year.” The local Better Business Bureau could also be worth a call.

Interview the inspector. Don’t be shy. Here’s what to ask:

  • Talk to me. First, the inspector should make time to talk to you and answer your questions, Turner says. What should you listen for? “Hesitation,” Turner replies. “If he’s professional, the answers should roll right off his tongue.”
  • Let’s see the résumé. Ask about the inspector’s credentials and experience. Generally speaking, “You should have had a hammer in your hand at some point in your background to have a good grasp of construction,” Turner says. Does the inspector have a professional bio that you can look at?
  • Got insurance? Ask whether the inspector carries “errors and omissions insurance,” says Kuhn – which is sort of like malpractice insurance for an inspector. If he doesn’t, ask why. In some states, insurance is a licensing requirement.
  • Got a guarantee? “Do you offer a guarantee?” Kuhn suggests asking. Typically, a home inspection is good for the day of the inspection, he says – but Kuhn’s firm, HouseMaster, offers a written agreement that obligates the inspector to reimburse the consumer for eligible repairs that may develop during the guarantee period, regardless of whether it was an oversight on the inspector’s part or just normal wear and tear.An example: If the furnace is working fine when inspected in summer, but doesn’t work when flipped on in November, the inspector’s firm pays for the repair, he says. “The bottom line is that a good inspector should have no problem standing behind their inspection with a written guarantee for a reasonable amount of time after the inspection,” Kuhn says.
  • Get it in writing. Ask if the inspector puts his findings into a narrative-style report; that’s what you want – not just a long checklist.Ask to see a sample; it’s often available on the inspector’s Web site. Look at it to assess whether you’re comfortable with the language and can understand it. Also see that the inspector is thorough, and covers all of the areas that the organization he belongs to says he will cover in its standards of practice, Richardson says — inside, outside, chimney, heating system, etc.
  • Invite yourself. Before hiring the inspector, ask to come along when the home is examined. “Another red flag would be if they don’t want you to go on the home inspection with them,” Kuhn says. A home inspection usually takes three to four hours. Unless a team is examining the home, be suspicious of anyone who tells you it will take 45 minutes.

With a little inspecting of your own, you’ll likely end up with a home that contains no unhappy surprises. And that’s a happy ending for everyone.


Property values have come roaring back. Many can now refinance their loans by virtue of having additional home equity. And increased property values can also put homeowners in a better financial position to sell their home without entering short sale territory. But the fact remains: Everyone wants to attain maximum value for their real estate and home repairs can help. So what’s the best barometer of a home’s true worth? Simple: the amount a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay at any given point in time. Unfortunately, appraisal estimates can be skewed, especially when not all the home repairs and improvements are taken into consideration. This is why you should weigh all home improvement decisions carefully before you commit. When You’re Refinancing Unlike in years past, the weight of an appraisal to determine the home value for the purposes of refinancing a mortgage is based upon the facts (which are primarily based on other homes that have sold) and what the property description is. Improvements that may help a refinance valuation:

  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage
  • Improvement that expands the “use” of the home

When it comes to improvements such as landscaping, painting, any home improvement more “cosmetic” in nature, realize that the primary benefit is for the enjoyment of the property, not for trying to influence value. When Selling A home buyer is going to take into consideration all of the facts associated with the property, location, lot size, square footage, bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as additional cosmetic improvements that have been done that add to the look and feel of the home. Improvements that may help a sale price:

  • New paint job
  • Freshly maintained landscaping
  • Remodeled and/or upgraded interior
  • Deck and/or patio addition
  • Additional bedroom or bathroom
  • Addition to the lot size
  • Addition to the garage

What’s the Biggest Bang for Your Buck? These include the high-ticket items that increase square footage. An additional bedroom or an additional bathroom increases the square footage, which in turn allows an appraiser to make higher adjustments when determining valuation against other comparable homes around the subject property. Refinancing Let’s say you have funds ready for possibly improving your home for long-term enjoyment. Instead of using the funds to make home improvements in an attempt to enjoy your home more, you might actually see a greater benefit if you used that money toward a refinance. Over time, the money you save from refinancing could then be put toward those home improvements down the road. Selling in the Near Future   Typically, you won’t get a dollar-for-dollar recapture on the home improvement cost, even when selling. Because the weight is given to improvements that expand the use of the house (i.e. bedroom, bathrooms, etc.), it’s more common to expect 20 cents on the dollar, or maybe 30 cents on the dollar, depending on the improvement in such a scenario. Because the market is the strongest indicator of price, the market will dictate sales price followed by additional improvements and subsequent marketing of the home.

40 Energy Savings Tips for Denver – Northern Colorado

Posted: June 5, 2013 in Uncategorized
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1. Close shades, drapes and blinds during the day (all directions).

 2. Wear lightweight clothing (short sleeves, shorts, cotton).

3. Set the air conditioning thermostat at 78 degrees or higher. Raise it higher to 80-85 degrees when away in the day. Note that settings below 78 degrees increase your cooling cost 8-12% per degree. Each degree makes a big difference. And setting your air conditioner at 70 degrees instead of 78 can almost double your operating cost!

 4. Don’t choose a lower air conditioning temperature when you first turn it on. It won’t cool faster if you set it lower. Set low, it cools longer, not faster.

5. When weather is mild, use fans instead of the air conditioner. Your central air conditioner will use about 100 times more energy than a fan at medium speed.

 6. If you have ceiling fans, run the fans and the air conditioner at the same time but set the air conditioner 2 or 3 degrees higher. You’ll feel just as cool, but your overall cooling cost will be 15%-25% lower!

7. Turn off ceiling fans when you’re away. Fans cool your skin. Fans don’t cool the room! Turn them off if you’re not going to be there to feel the breeze.

 8. Use a microwave instead of the range/oven. The microwave doesn’t heat the kitchen.

9. Keep windows and doors closed while air conditioning.

10. Change the air conditioner’s air filter monthly during heavy use. When it’s clogged, airflow is restricted — cooling costs rise, and your system may eventually suffer a compressor failure with a $1,000+ repair bill!

11. Arrange items in your refrigerator for quick removal and return. Your refrigerator cools the food but heats the kitchen! The longer the door is open, the longer it runs, heating the kitchen and raising your air conditioning costs.

12. Vent the clothes dryer to the out-of-doors. Otherwise it pours heat and moisture into the house air.

13. If your dryer has an automatic cycle, use it. Over-drying wastes energy and wears out your clothes.

14. Clean the dryer lint filter screen frequently and check the outdoor vent opening. When lint slows the airflow, the dryer runs longer. When the vent is clogged the clothes get a long, ineffective tumbling.

15. Drink plenty of cool liquids. Avoid caffeine or alcohol. Eat lightly. Cook outdoors.

16. Plant shade trees. Outside shade can reduce air conditioning costs 30%. Shade on the east and west is most important.

17. Seal air leaks around doors and windows. Use caulk and weather-stripping.

18. If you have central cooling, keep all air conditioning supply registers open; don’t close off rooms or registers. That doesn’t save money, and it may lead to costly problems.

19. Check for air duct leaks. Duct leaks in the attic or under the house cost you money.

20. Close your fireplace damper!

21. Replace your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat.

22. On your central air conditioner’s thermostat FAN setting, always set the fan to AUTO, never set the fan to ON. This is important: Don’t move the fan lever to “ON”! Set the fan on “AUTO”. On AUTO, humidity is kept lower, costs are much lower and comfort is higher.

23. Keep up the habit of turning off lights as you leave a room, especially in summer. Lights add a lot of heat to the room.

24. Have a qualified service technician conduct a seasonal checkup on your central heat pump or air conditioner. Your springtime servicing should include a check of your thermostat including leveling it if necessary; a check of your system’s refrigerant charge; cleaning evaporator and condenser coils if necessary; and check for duct leaks and repair as necessary.

25. Consider a pool pump timer. Pool pumping 24 hours/day with a ¾ horsepower pump motor can cost nearly $80/month at current electric rates. A timer is well worth its installed cost.

26. Bulk up your ceiling insulation. The highest recommended level for our region is “R38” (38 Rvalues) or about 14 inches depth of the newer kinds of blown white fiberglass insulation. A good protective layer of ceiling insulation prevents heat from moving inward in summer and holds heat inside in winter.

27. Use your bathroom vent fan after a shower.

28. Reconsider having an old refrigerator or freezer in your hot garage!

29. Avoid rooftop power ventilating fans. They tend to cost more to operate than they save, especially if the thermostat is set too low.

30. Make sure your air conditioner’s return-air grill has plenty of clearance. Floor-level grills sometimes get covered by a rug or blocked by furniture.

31. Use a clothesline.

32. Make sure your clothes dryer isn’t throwing lint onto your outdoor cooling condenser coils!

33. If you have a waste-heat-recovery water heating system, make sure the little pump is still working! Otherwise you may go for years without realizing that the system does nothing.

34. If you’re replacing your old air conditioner, don’t pressure your installer to oversize your new system. Bigger isn’t better. A system correctly sized for your house will run longer but for less cost, dry the air better and give greater comfort than the next bigger size.

35. If you’re replacing your old air conditioner, replace both halves if it’s a “split system”. If you replace only the outdoor condensing unit but keep your old indoor blower-coil, you’ll likely end up with a mismatched, low-efficiency system.

36. Make sure your air conditioner’s thermostat is well away from any source or heat. Keep lamps at a distance to avoid false high temperature readings and unwanted long cooling runtimes.

37. If your garage was long ago converted to an enclosed, heated and cooled room, make sure it has ceiling insulation.

38. Make sure your ceiling fans are breezing downwards, not upwards. A common problem.

39. If your air conditioning ductwork is under the house and your supply air registers are at floor level, check all of them from above with a flashlight. First, it’s easy for the register vanes to be accidentally kicked shut. Second, make sure the duct boot under the vent is still connected. When you look down through a floor register, you shouldn’t see the earth!

40. Keep all air conditioning supply air registers open. Don’t close off rooms or registers. That doesn’t save money, and it may lead to costly problems.

Simple Tips For Home Improvement Jobs Today

Posted: June 3, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Good Tips


Whether you’re garage doors in denver a newbie or an expert at home improvement, it can be tricky to find the motivation you need for a new project. You can discover some ideas for great new projects, as well as tips for working more effectively, in this article.

There are times when only one little improvement can increase the value of your home. If you are considering the sale of your home, think about making one or two little improvements. Paint your home’s interior and exterior for a fresh look. Something like this that is relatively low in cost can increase your home’s value exponentially.

There is no need to get rid of worn doors. Instead, remove them from their frame and sand them down. Then paint them with oil-based paint on a roller. For a brand new feel, opt to change your doorknobs to a fancier design.

When you…

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23 Tips for Keeping Your House Cool


Puzzling out how to keep your house as cool as possible during these hot summer months? Trying to remember the conventional wisdom but not quite sure how it goes? Those window fans, for example, should they be placed to draw air in or out? Upwind or downwind of the dwelling? And what about windows, shades, and awnings? Are windows on the North side of the house better left closed or open during the day? Are awnings better than shades?

Find out the answers to these questions and more, right here:

The recent heat spell on the East Coast dredged these questions up for me, and I am sure these questions are seasonal for many of us. Efficient cooling saves money, energy, and the quality of our lives.

Turning to Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings by Alex Wilson, Jennifer Thorne, and John Morrill of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has provided a wealth of answers to just these questions and more. I’ve compiled 23 tricks about how to keep a house cool to reduce the need for air conditioning from this book, as well as a few from The Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook. These tips are really useful.

1. Reduce the cooling load by employing cost-effective conservation measures. Provide effective shade for east and west windows. When possible, delay heat-generating activities such as dishwashing until evening on hot days.

2. Over most of the cooling season, keep the house closed tight during the day. Don’t let in unwanted heat and humidity. Ventilate at night either naturally or with fans.

3. You can help get rid of unwanted heat through ventilation if the temperature of the incoming air is 77 F or lower. (This strategy works most effectively at night and on cooler days.) Window fans for ventilation are a good option if used properly. They should be located on the downwind side of the house facing out. A window should be open in each room. Interior doors must remain open to allow air flow.

4. Use ceiling fans to increase comfort levels at higher thermostat settings. The standard human comfort range for light clothing in the summer is between 72 F and 78 F. To extend the comfort range to 82 F, you need a breeze of about 2.5 ft/sec or 1.7 mph. A sow-turning ceiling-mounted paddle fan can easily provide this air flow.

5. In hot climates, plant shade trees around the house. Don’t plant trees on the South if you want to benefit from passive solar heating in the winter.

6. If you have an older central air conditioner, consider replacing the outdoor compressor with a modern, high-efficiency unit. Make sure that it is properly matched to the indoor unit.

7. If buying a new air conditioner, be sure that it is properly sized. Get assistance from an energy auditor or air conditioning contractor.

8. Buy a high-efficiency air conditioner: for room air conditioners, the energy efficiency ratio (EER) rating should be above 10; for central air conditioners, look for a seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) rating above 12.

9. In hot, humid climates, make sure that the air conditioner you buy will adequately get rid of high humidity. Models with variable or multi-speed blowers are generally best. Try to keep moisture sources out of the house.

10. Try not to use a dehumidifier at the same time your air conditioner is operating. The dehumidifier will increase the cooling load and force the air conditioner to work harder.

11. Seal all air conditioner ducts, and insulate ducts that run through unheated basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

12. Keep the thermostat set at 78 degrees F or higher if using ceiling fans. Don’t air-condition unused rooms.

13. Maintain your air conditioners properly to maximize efficiency.

Additional tips from the Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook, edited by Doug Pratt and the Real Goods staff.

Warm Weather Window Solutions

14. Install white window shades or mini-blinds. Mini-blinds can reduce solar heat gain by 40-50 percent.

15. Close south and west-facing curtains during the day for any window that gets direct sunlight. Keep these windows closed, too.

16. Install awnings on south-facing windows, where there’s insufficient roof overhang to provide shade.

17. Hang tightly woven screens or bamboo shades outside the window during the summer to stop 60 to 80 percent of the sun’s heat from getting to the windows.

18. Apply low-e films.

19. Consider exotic infills in your windows, a new technology that fills the space between panes with krypton or argon, gasses that have lower conductivity than air, and which boost R-values.

Tips for your A/C

19. Provide shade for your room A/C, or the outside half of your central A/C if at all possible. This will increase the unit’s efficiency by 5 percent to 10 percent.

20. Clean your A/C’s air filter every month during cooling season. Normal dust build-up can reduce air flow by 1 percent per week.

22. Turn off your A/C when you leave for more than an hour.

23. Several studies have found that most central air conditioning systems are oversized by 50 percent or more.