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Denver Building Permits Can Protect You!

Residential Improvement Reminder from City of Denver

When work is done without permits, it comes to light at the time a property is sold, refinanced or when a contractor or neighbor notices a problem and reports it to the City.  This applies to many of the metro area suburbs too!  FHA appraisers may look at this when it comes to appraising your home.  If you do not have a permit for the work in a finished basement, those bedrooms, baths etc. may not count into your appraisal.

Be sure and check with your local permitting office to see what you need.  Each county and city may vary and the laws also change from time to time.  Before you start to work on your home, check out the building and permitting office just to make sure you are in compliance.  Below are some good tips to follow.


Protect Yourself with Building Permits

·        Permits protect your safety.

·        Permits protect the resale of your home and are required by lending institutions.

·        Unpermitted work can void insurance coverage and violate local Zoning and Building Codes.

·        Permits add value to your project and require that inspections be performed to verify that work was done correctly.

·        Have your contractor pull a permit because the permit holder is responsible for compliance with the Building Code.

Denver Townhomes

Denver Townhomes

Common Projects That Do Not Require a Permit

Replacing an electrical fixture with a like fixture

Replacing a plumbing fixture with a like fixture



Floor tile


Projects That Require a Permit

·        Most decks

·        Additions

·        Bay windows

·        Patio Covers

·        Garages

·        Car Ports

·        Basement Remodels


Utilizing Contractors

·        Seek at least three bids.

·        Verify that your contractor is licensed.

·        Check web sites like the National Association of Home Builders for helpful tips.

·        Have a written contract de­tailing that the contractor will pull a permit and outlining the work to be performed, cost associated with each task and time frame with estimated start and finish dates.

·        Always get a receipt for payments made to contractors.

·        Make payments beyond a de­posit to your contractor only when you get something in return, such as materials delivered to your address.

·        For large projects, before each payment, ask for a walk through with the contractor explaining the work done so far and what will happen next.

·        Never pay in full until the job is complete, has been inspected and the build­ing permit has been closed.


Learn more at www.DenverGov.Org


Procrastination a problem? Get started Now in 2014!

Is there a project you’ve stalled on, something you’re procrastinating on, or a part of your business you’ve been avoiding but know needs attention? You’re not alone. My garage was a mess after the holiday months.  I went in to organize and found a dozen boxes of tissue, 6 boxes of zip lock bags, and 3 boxes of garbage bags!  I can never find anything so I keep buying more.  Procrastination is unfortunately an easy path to take when our lives are busy and demands on our time are high. The problem with procrastination is that it simply puts off until later something that still needs to be completed.

There are plenty of experts on productivity and great books on ‘getting things done’ out there to help give us perspective but this simple fact remains: while it might be easy to do that one little task, oftentimes it’s easier notto do it!  I worked with an amazing woman who owns Efficiency by Design and she changed my business life and office!  I try to retake the class every year and pick up new information to help my business and personally.

A simple but effective trick I like to use is to break things down into smaller pieces and tackle each one individually. I worked on organizing my email folders, desktop,  purse, briefcase, car – you name it.  How great it is to know where everything is at and it saves time!


Too Much Paperwork

Too Much Paperwork








Looking at the project or task as a whole might be overwhelming and cause us to avoid it. But breaking it down into manageable parts and then checking each one of those off a list can be enormously rewarding and a source of pride as you begin to see your list disappear.

No matter what the project or task is, break it down into smaller elements. Get one of those done at a time and then move on to the next. Before you know it you’ll be a master of productivity. Remember it doesn’t happen overnight.  One step at a time and this year can turn your life around.  Try 10 minutes a day in any part of your home and office.  Soon you will see the results and make the project a priority!

Stop the Holiday Madness and Relax!

It happens every year: You vow to enjoy the holidays, spend quality time with your friends and family, and maybe even give back to your community. Then, little by little, your stress level increases. Family time becomes filled with anxiety. Holiday parties are another dreaded task on your to-do list. And all that shopping and entertaining causes worry over your budget.

Holiday Stressors

If you find yourself losing the holiday spirit this year, we recommend you stop, take a deep breath, and then follow these tips for getting back to your jolly self.

  • Take a time-out. Even a quick spin around the neighborhood to breathe in the fresh air and admire holiday displays can boost your mood. Try to find at least a few minutes every day for yourself — whether it’s to enjoy a hot cup of tea, or listen music that is uplifting.
  • Learn to say, “no.” If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to skip a party or two. Or put off your volunteer work until the spring. Pick the events and efforts you truly want to be a part of, and let go of the guilt about sending your regrets to the others.
  • Sweat out the stress. It’s easy to let exercise take a back burner during the holidays, but physical activity can work wonders on your outlook.  Maybe you need a change in your workout routine or you can find some frinds to share the experience with.
  • Grab a pal. Sometimes, a good chat with a friend is all you need to get back on track. Or, how about gathering a group for a relaxing at a movie, concert or just enjoying a cup of coffee together.
  • Stay organized. Fight that frazzled feeling by keeping your calendar up-to-date, organizing your space, and planning ahead.

And remember, if you feel overwhelmed or depressed for more than a couple weeks, it might be something more than a case of holiday stress. Speak with your physician or call Mental Health, Behavioral Health, or Member Services in your area to ask about resources that can help y0u.

Five Cheap ways to Improve your Kitchen Now!


The good news for homeowners: Consumer Reports’ latest tests yields a tantalizing menu of value-priced kitchen upgrades that cost as little as $1,000. Besides paying off now in improved looks and convenience, these smaller upgrades are likelier to pay bigger dividends later as home prices rebound. Here’s the list:

Add fresh paint

If cabinets are structurally sound but shabby, spruce them up with a coat of paint. Paying a pro costs as little as $50 per door, less if you tackle the prepping and painting yourself. One pick from our tests is the self-priming Behr Premium Plus Ultra Satin Enamel, $33 per gallon at Home Depot.

More from ConsumerReports.org: The best appliances—and what not to buyKitchen planning guide

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on Yahoo!

Improve convenience

For about $200 or less, you can improve cabinet storage with pull-out shelves and retractable trash bins.

Update the countertops

Designers’ views are mixed between granite and quartz (about $40 to $100 per square foot), which mimics granite and other stone. Quartz topped our gauntlet of tests, and it never needs sealing. Want to spend less? Laminate costs just $10 to $40 per square foot and resisted stains and impact even better (but be careful about cuts).

Beautify the backsplash

Durable ceramic-tile starts at about $10 per square foot installed. And even high-maintenance materials like glass are smart options, since they don’t get the wear and tear of a countertop. Whatever you use for the kitchen backsplash, caulking between the backsplash and countertop is a must.

Fix up your flooring

Tile or wood may impress realtors, but some top-rated vinyl and laminate floors also look sharp, resist wear significantly better, and cost far less when the work is done. Examples from our latest tests include the vinyl-tile Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate SI-74 Golden Greig, $5 per square foot, and the laminate Armstrong Coastal Living L3051 White Wash Walnut, $3.50 per square foot.

Copyright © 2006-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc.


5 Things Home Buyers Do That Turn Sellers Off (and Kill Deals)

On today’s market, every savvy seller wants to know what turns buyers off, so they can get their homes sold as quickly as possible, for as much as possible.  But buyers, take note – there is a minefield of seller turn-offs you can trigger that hold the potential to keep you from getting the home you want at the best price and terms, or to unnecessarily complicate dealings with your home’s seller.

If you think all of today’s sellers are under the gun and will just put up with whatever behavior buyers dish out, be aware that there are still many multiple offer situations in which buyers have to compete with each other to get a home – buyers who trigger these turnoffs tend to lose in those scenarios.  Also, avoiding these seller turnoffs can create a transactional environment of cooperation and avoid things turning adversarial.  That, in turn, can empower you to score a better price, get extra items you want thrown into the deal, and even negotiate more flexibility around your escrow and move-in timelines – all perks that can make your life easier and your budget go further.

For sellers, these turnoffs pose the potential of irritating you out of an otherwise good deal – maybe even the only deal you have!








Here’s a few of the most common buyer-perpetuated seller turnoffs, with tips for sellers on how to keep an emotional (and economic) even keel, even if your home’s buyer makes some of these waves:

1. Trash-talking. Trash-talkers are the home buyers who think they’re going to negotiate the list price down by slamming the house, telling the sellers how little it is really worth, how the house across the street sold for nothing, why the school on the corner should make them desperate to give the place away, etc. This strategy never works; in fact, when you attack a seller and their home, you only cause them to be defensive, and think up all the reasons that (a) their home is not what you say it is, and (b) they shouldn’t sell their home to you!

Sometimes this happens with buyers who actually love a house and just walk around it fantasizing about all the ways they would customize it to their tastes while a seller is there.  Sellers: avoid being at home while your home is being shown.  Buyers: save your commentary for your agent; if you do encounter the seller in person keep your conversation respectful and avoid critiquing the house or the list price.

2. Being unqualified for mortgage financing. When a seller signs a buyer’s offer, most often the seller agrees to effectively pull the home off the market, forgoing other buyers who might be interested.  As such, the only thing worse than getting no offers on your home is getting an offer, getting into contract, then having the whole thing fall apart when the buyer’s loan falls through – especially if that could have been predicted or avoided up front.

Sellers: Work with your agent to vet your home’s buyers’ qualifications, including their loan approval, down payment and earnest money deposit – before you sign a contract.  It’s not overkill for your agent to call the buyers’ mortgage pro before you sign the contract and get a level of comfort for how robust their qualifications are.  Buyers: Get pre-approved.  Seriously.  And make sure that you don’t buy a car, quit your job, deposit lottery winnings or do any other financial twitchery between the time you get loan approval and the time you close escrow on your home.

3. Making unjustified lowball offers. No one likes to feel like they are being taken advantage of.  And sellers generally know the ballpark amount that their home is worth, as well as what they need to sell it for to get their mortgage paid off.  Yes – the price you pay for a home should be driven by its fair market value, rather than the seller’s financial needs, and deals are more available in a market like the current one, in which supply so vastly outpaces demand. But just throwing uber-lowball offers out at sellers hoping one will hit the spot is not generally a successful strategy, especially if you really, really want a given property.

Sellers: Don’t get overly emotional about receiving a lowball offer; counter at the price you and your agent decide makes sense based on the total circumstances, including your motivation level, recent comps and the interest/activity level your listing is receiving. Buyers: Work through the similar, nearby homes that have recently sold (a/k/a comparables) before you make an offer to factor the home’s fair market value into your offer price – also factor in how much you want the place, too.  Don’t be amazed if you make an offer far below asking, and don’t get a response.

4. Renegotiating mid-stream. Sellers plan their finances, moves and  – to some extent – their lives around the purchase price a buyer agrees to pay for their home.  If you get into contract to buy a home, find out during inspections that costly repairs need to be made, then propose a lower sale price, repair credit or even actual repairs to the seller, that’s sensible and fair.  But if you were aware that the property needed a lot of work before you made an offer on it, then you come back asking for beaucoup bucks’ worth of credit or price reductions midstream, expect the seller to cry foul.  And holding the seller up two weeks into the transaction because you caught a case of buyer’s remorse? Not cool, and not likely to foster the spirit of cooperation you may need to get your deal closed.

Sellers: avoid mid-stream price renegotiations by having a full set of inspection reports and repair bids at hand when you list your home. Buyers: try to avoid renegotiating the entire deal unless you get some major surprises at your inspections or inflating small repairs to try to justify a major price cut.

5. Misleading or setting the seller up. Remember when we talked about buyer turn-offs?  Being misled by listing photos or very fluffy property descriptions was high on the list.  The same goes for sellers.Offering way over asking with the plan to hammer the seller for a reduction when the house doesn’t appraise at the purchase price?  #LAME  Making an as-is offer planning the whole time to come back and ask for every penny ante repair called out by the inspectors?  Lame squared.

If you get multiple offers and are tempted to take a sky-high one or one that claims to be all cash, consider requesting proof that the buyer has sufficient funds to make up the difference between what you think the home will appraise for and the actual sale price, and statements showing the cash truly exists.  Buyers: Don’t be lame. I’m not saying you have to tell the seller exactly what your top dollar is, but making offers with terms designed to intentionally mislead is really, really bad form – and can result in losing the home entirely if and when your bluff gets called.

P.S. – You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook, too!

Renting vs Buying in Westminster Colorado

Renters have been happy to sidestep the drama homeowners have suffered in the roller-coaster housing market.  But they are now facing the downside of the real estate market’s correction. With apartment and rental housing construction halved in recent years and a wave of former homeowners competing for apartment space with “echo boomers” and other renters, conditions have increasingly ripened the tight market allowing landlords to raise the rent.  In Westminster CO, we have seen unprecedented vacancy levels below 2% to 3% which seems likely to continue.

Last year the rental market quietly shifted from a tenants’ market to what is now decidedly a landlord’s market. The supply of properties is tightening and vacancy rates are dropping, so landlords have been emboldened to raise the rent.  Nationally, rents are expected to rise 5 percent this year and maybe another 5 percent in 2013.   The trend is not expected to moderate until 2014, when new multifamily housing construction adds to supply and the housing market stabilizes enough to attract new buyers.

For example, lets say you share a two-bedroom apartment with a friend in thede Legacy Ridge neighborhood. The duo split the $1,200 monthly rent, but they were surprised this month when their landlord lease came up for renewal and their landlord asked for a 10% percent increase, to $1,320.  The tenants were pretty upset about it of what would amount to nearly $60 more per month per person.  They thought a 10 percent increase was ridiculous.

there is a happier ending to this story.  They persuaded the landlord to curb the increase, capping his new rent at $1,250. The roommates and landlord have a verbal agreement for that new rental rate, he says, with a new lease signing imminent. But his ability to talk his way out of a bigger rent increase makes him more of an exception than the rule this year, according to experts.

In California, landlords have to file a 60-day notice if they plan to raise rents by more than 10 percent and in some markets, we’re once again seeing them issue those notices.  Of course all rental markets are local, and the trend is more pronounced in the Denver Suburbs for example, than in Central Denver where buying is still more expensive than renting.

Rising rents and the rising cost of owning a home are forcing Americans across all income levels to pay a higher proportion of their income for housing. As of 2009, more than 19 million households paid more than half their incomes for housing, including more than 10 million renters, according to the study. Households in the $45,000 to $60,000 income range have faced a particularly sharp increase in the housing cost burden over the past decade.

No one likes seeing the rent rise — but for renters, increases are often a fact of life. And even with the current rent hikes, rental rates in most markets haven’t even returned to prior highs set in 2007 and 2008.  You look at the increase and you make that decision whether or not to move every time the lease comes up. If you’re renting now and you’ve just renewed for 12 months, you’ve probably got one more round of increases before things stabilize.

Considering that the government-sponsored mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are facing potential reforms that could tighten lending standards, and that there’s still a heavy supply of homes for sale, some say renters may not be swayed to move into the ownership market for many years — especially if many new renters tend to be younger.  Most first-time buyers are in their early 30s, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. In Westminster CO, the 24-year old renter will probably be at least 29 before they think about buying. That means that they, and others in their age range, may suffer through a few rent increases before they move to ownership.

To hear landlords discuss the marketplace, the good times have returned.  Owners are now confident that the apartment supply and demand equation is tipping toward housing shortage and thus both rents and occupancies are improving.


Single Ladies

Consumers are still spending money in this economy and women are a driving force behind it.  Here are some interesting statistics:

  • Since 2005, women have earned more college degrees in the US ; 57% of Bachelors,  60.6% of Masters and 50.5% of Doctoral level degrees
  • From 1990 to 2006, women’s incomes grew by a factor of 32.9% and men’s 6.3%

The Miley/Mack research shows in the age group of 18-30 that:

  • 94% of women and 90% of men rated financial independence as being very important
  • 94% of women and 89% of men rated taking care of themselves as being important
  • Owning a home was very important to 44% of men and 76% of women

Women are looking for a more balanced lifestyle than ever before.  Businesses that provide lifestyle coaching may find that their firms may be more attractive to women.  As we enter into a new decade, it will be interesting to see how these changes influence the future purchasing power balance between the sexes.

Sellers – NOW is the Time to Sell!

Here are some great excerpts from local experts on our Real Estate Market today.  There is a lot of pent up demand for housing and if you are planning on making a transition in your home situation or have been waiting for the market to recover, NOW is the time to sell.  We have rising prices in home valuations, low interest rates and favorable loan programs as well as an increasing demand for people who want to buy homes.  Read what some of the leading publications in Denver are saying.

Fix up your home to sell!

Fixup to Sell!

The Denver Magazine in Colorado. “Not long ago, real estate in Denver was in the weeds. In January 2009, the average home price in the Mile High City hovered around $225,000, a 30 percent drop from the market’s peak in June 2007. Homes listed on the lower end were hit even harder, dipping by closer to 40 percent. But this grim picture is now history. The catch? Per capita, there have never been fewer homes for sale in Denver. Why potential sellers aren’t selling is anyone’s guess. This is, of course, a potentially lucrative situation if you’re in the latter camp. ‘We probably have the strongest seller’s market we’ve ever had,’ says Charles Roberts, co-owner of Denver’s Your Castle Real Estate.”

“If would-be sellers realize how good the market is for them right now, come summer, Denver housing should see solid prices, quality buyers, and a healthy inventory. If the number of available properties remains low, however, bidding wars could inflate prices across the Front Range and once again create skyrocketing appreciation rates. For now, forget all that. If you’ve put off even thinking about selling your home since the market crashed, it’s time to focus, strategize, and (hopefully) capitalize on this seller’s utopia.”

The Denver Business Journal in Colorado. “Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. — two of Colorado’s biggest banks — have nearly halted foreclosure sales after federal regulators revised orders on how troubled borrowers were to be treated before losing their homes. Citibank Inc. is another big lender that has greatly slowed sales of homes in foreclosure, the Los Angeles Times reports.”

If you or your family are looking to buy or sell a home, Feel free to call or text me at 720-331-2444 or shoot me an email at mikoda@q.com.

Moving Checklist for Buyers and Sellers

4 Weeks Prior to Move

  • Make a “Move” file folder to keep track of documentation and records of the moving process.
  • Set up a calendar for your move to mark deadlines and reminders.
  • Hold a garage sale to rid yourself of furniture, clothes and other items you’d prefer not to move.
  • Contact a local charity to donate any unneeded furniture and items not sold in the garage sale.
  • Collect boxes, tape, rope, wrapping/padding material and other moving supplies.
  • Line up a moving company (or make reservations to rent a moving truck if you plan to move yourself).
  • Gather doctors, dentists, other medical and school records.
  • Put together (and keep accessible) all financial, tax, and employment documentation that you need during your loan process.
  • Contact your insurance company to transfer your policies (life, auto, homeowners).


3 Weeks Prior to Move

  • Set a cutoff date with your current utility providers (this can include telephone, gas, electric, water, garage, and cable).
  • Establish a start date for utility services at your new home.
  • Let friends and relatives know of your upcoming move.
  • Donate canned goods and other non-perishable food items to a local charity to save the expense of moving them.
  • Verify your Voter Registration information and make any necessary changes in light of your move.
  • Register your new address with your subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and association memberships.
  • Complete a change of address card with your local post office.
  • Research and keep record of tax deductions on moving expenses.


2 Weeks Prior to Move

  • Transfer stocks, bonds, bank accounts, and contents of safety deposit boxes to a financial institution near your new home.
  • Organize the clothes you will be moving; separate them into suitcases, keeping those you need readily available.
  • Review the moving checklist so far, making sure you are still on track for the move.



1 Week Prior to Move

  • Drain outdoor equipment: water from hoses, propane tanks from barbecue grills, and gas and oil from lawn mowers.
  • Discard any aerosol, paint, oils, and all flammable and/or toxic chemicals.
  • Label items you need to easily access and place them in a separate room or closet.
  • Schedule a pest control company to service your home before moving — especially on new construction.
  • Clean your refrigerator and let it air out at least 24 hours before moving.


Move Out Day

  • Load items and boxes that you’ll need first last. (Those items packed last will be unloaded first.)
  • Conduct a final walk through of your home once everything is out of the house; check cupboards, closets, behind doors, attics, stairwells, overhead in the garage, outside the home, and any storage sheds.


Move In Day

  • Prepare your new home before the truck arrives; have it clean and be prepared to instruct where you’d like items placed.
  • Take some time, sit back, and enjoy your new home!
Nancy Mikoda
Real Estate Consultant

Your Castle Real Estate
Serving Denver Metro and Surrounding Areas

Denver’s 2013 Housing Inventory Shrinks!

The average discount on homes that have sold in Denver this year in at a all time low.  Currently, the metro Denver inventory is at a 23 year low while the number of active homes on the market is down over 30% since the same time last year.  There is also a greatly reduced days on the market and homes are getting multiple offers.The number of homes sold went up a surprising 17.56%.  Currently, there are about 7,000 homes on the market which is equal to about a  one months supply of inventory.




This is important information for buyers to help them make better decisions when making offers to purchase homes.  Gone are the days when you had a lot of homes to choose from and plenty of time to make a decision.  Buyers need to be able to be one of the first to view a property when it comes on the market and also be prepared to make a strong offer the first time.  They also need to be in a strong financial situation so that they can be competitive and not ask for a lot of financial concessions.

It is not easy for sellers either.  Sellers can price their property competitively, get multiple offers and pick the strongest or even highest offer.  The problem that may arise is that the banks appraisal may not be supportive of the higher offer as there are no comparable properties at that price point for the appraiser to use.  Then the seller has to see if the buyer has the funds to pay over the appraised price or reduce the price to the appraised value.  When home values move upwards quickly,  the appraisals seems to drag behind the new market trends.  This may make the selling process frustrating to both buyers and sellers until the market shows this trend is not just a temporary market adjustment.