The houses

As our much anticipated summer kicks off, the Denver housing has become increasingly hot! 

Anyone currently buying a home in the Denver market no doubt has noticed how quickly things are selling, with multiple offers being made and accepted within a day of two of listing.  Many recent home sales have sold above asking price as the result of bidding wars.  All of this is the result of an influx of new home buyers and a shortage of sellers within the local market.

Denver’s Chief Economist, Jeff Romine, reports that 12,250 new jobs were created in 2012, unemployment has dropped almost 2% since 2011, construction is on the upswing, and consumerism has shown significant evidence of an increase.  Oh yeah, and he reports that Denver’s housing market is among the strongest in the nation with home values up 8.3% from last year.  Yes, Denver’s economy has improved. 

In fact, Denver’s economy never took as hard a hit as many U.S. cities during the recession.  Couple this with the fact we have a fun, healthy city adjacent to the majestic Rocky Mountains attracting a population of active professionals, and it should be no surprise that housing demand has been on the rise. 

So… what does this mean for home buyers and sellers?

For buyers, “sleeping on it” may not be the best approach to deciding on whether to submit an offer on your dream home.  I have had recent experiences with clients who saw a home they loved only to have missed out on the opportunity by simply taking a night or two to think things over.  It is imperative to be pre-qualified for financing and have earnest money available to submit an offer immediately when the right home presents itself.  Buyers will also gain a huge benefit by having a realtor represent them who has access to industry databases that provide immediate updates with new listings and comparable sales data that may not be available on public sites.  To the extent that bidding wars have become commonplace, having a realtor advise you utilizing their familiarity with market statistics may also prove key in making a reasonable and successful offer.  Buyers should also be aware that mortgage rates have increased recently as a result of a strengthened national economy and that there is speculation the Federal Reserve Board is contemplating an increase to the prime rate, meaning that historically low interest rates could soon increase.

For sellers, the strengthened economy, increase in local housing demand and prices, and short supply has created the most seller-friendly environment Denver has seen in ages!  Yet not many people are selling their homes.  Perhaps Denver’s home-owners haven’t received the memo that housing prices have surged 10-20%, or remain hopeful they will continue to appreciate.  Maybe the recession has made people more cautious, so they are reluctant to sell and upgrade to a larger home and mortgage payment.  Maybe folks finally got the color of that accent wall right and they don’t want to mess with a good thing.  Whatever the case, prices have continued to rise and comparable statistics from recent sales over the year or so may not be applicable to current valuations, making it important that you work with a knowledgeable real estate professional.  It is also possible that rising housing prices could eventually plateau given the influx of new large scale construction occurring in the Denver metro area, such that increased housing prices may not continue indefinitely and there has never been a better time to sell.

If you are considering buying or selling, I’d look forward to discussing your situation and assisting you in any way possible. Please call Allison at 303-908-9873 or email allison@theconsciousgroup.com. 

Conceptual green grass house isolated on white

There many ways to green your home, but maybe you don’t have the time and money to implement all of them.  If you are short on time and/or money, here are some ways you can improve your energy bills quickly.

Choose Energy Star Appliances

If any of your appliances are more than ten years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with Energy Star appliances.  Appliance use comprises about 18% of your homes total energy bill, with the refrigerator using 6% just by itself.  (If you still have the old fridge running in the garage, the EPA states that getting rid of it could save you 150 dollars a year!)  Energy Star appliances use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models.  Energy Star’s website reports that if just one in ten homes used energy-efficient appliances, it would be equivalent to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.

Control the Temperature

Almost half a home’s energy consumption is due to heating and cooling.  Each degree below 68 degrees Fahrenheit during colder weather saves 3 to 5% more heating energy.  78 degrees is recommended for warmer weather.  A programmable thermostat will make these changes for you automatically.  Also, consider a new furnace.  Today’s furnaces are about 25% more efficient than they were in the 1980s.  (Also, look for Energy Star furnaces.)  Clean your furnaces air filter monthly during the winter.  During hot summer months, shade your east and west windows and delay heat-generating activities such as using the dryer until evening.

Save Water

Placing an aerator on your faucets will cut your water consumption by 50%.  Install low-flow toilets, which use only 1.6 gallons per flush, compared to 3.5 gallons per flush for pre-1994 models.  If your toilet is an older model, adjust your float valve to admit less water into the toilet’s tank. Behavioral changes also add up quickly: using a broom instead of the garden hose to clean your driveway can save 80 gallons of water and turning the water off when you brush your teeth will save 4.5 gallons each time.

Clean Green

This may cost more, unless you choose to make your own household cleaners.  However, it’s worth it.  I personally have always gotten headaches from using conventional household cleaners. Choosing environmentally friendly cleaning products — and removing toxic ones — goes a long way towards ensuring a home with fresh, clean air. Clean air renews and rejuvenates; it doesn’t pollute our lives or the environment. Living in a less toxic home, removed from neurotoxic chemicals, improves sleep and concentration, makes babies less fussy, and gives a sense of well-being. Your household’s toxic burden on the environment will be significantly reduced by following these steps, and this too can bring peace of mind.

Utilize Energy-Efficient Lighting

According to the Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with one Energy Star CFL bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for year, save 6 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

LED light bulbs are even more energy-efficient and long-lasting than CFL bulbs, though have been slower to catch on due to cost.  But if you think of this way, if you place an LED bulb in your child’s room when your child is an infant, you probably won’t have to change the bulb until your child goes to college.

Use Less Paper

Remove yourself from junk mail lists. Each person will receive almost 560 pieces of junk mail this year, which adds up nationally to 4.5 million ton. About 44% of all junk mail is thrown in the trash, unopened and unread, and ends up in a landfill. To stem the flow into your own home, contact the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service at P.O. Box 643, Carmel, NY 10512, or download the online form.  Buy unbleached paper. Many paper products, including some made from recycled fibers, are bleached with chlorine. The bleaching process can create harmful byproducts, including dioxins, which accumulate in our air, water and soil over time.  Also, carry reusable bags to the store to avoid using paper or plastic store bags.

Choose Green Options for Hardwood Floors

Bamboo is considered an environmentally friendly flooring material due to its high yield and the relatively fast rate at which it replenishes itself. It takes just four to six years for bamboo to mature, compared to 50-100 years for typical hardwoods. Just be sure to look for sources that use formaldehyde-free glues.

If you live in Colorado, an even greener option is beetle-kill pine.  If you have been to the mountains in the past few years, you will have noticed an immense amount of trees killed by beetles.  This wood is completely usable for flooring and has beautiful grays and blues running through the grain of the wood.  Also, you don’t have to worry about the energy costs to ship it from another country; it’s right here.

Reduce plastics

Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags — from grocery and trash bags to those ultra-convenient sandwich bags. Unfortunately, plastics are made from petroleum — the processing and burning of which is considered one of the main contributors to global warming, according to the EPA. In addition, sending plastics to the landfill also increases greenhouse gases. Reduce, re-use and recycle your plastics for one of the best ways to combat global warming.

Use Healthier Paint

Conventional paints contain solvents, toxic metals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can cause smog, ozone pollution and indoor air quality problems with negative health effects, according to the EPA. These unhealthy ingredients are released into the air while you’re painting, while the paint dries and even after the paints are completely dry. Opt instead for zero- or low-VOC paint, made by most major paint manufacturers today.

Garden Green

First, use compost instead of synthetic fertilizers. Compost provides a full complement of soil organisms and the balance of nutrients needed to maintain the soil’s well-being without the chemicals of synthetic fertilizers.  Healthy soil minimizes weeds and is key to producing healthy plants, which in turn can prevent many pest problems from developing to begin with.

Use native plants as much as possible. Native plants have adapted over time to the local environment and support native animals. They also use less water and require less of your attention.

Stop using chemical pesticides. American households use 80 million pounds of pesticides each year, according to the EPA. These toxic chemicals escape gardens and concentrate in the environment, posing threats to animals and people, especially children.

If you are in Colorado, opt for xeriscaping.  A xeriscape promotes creative approaches to water conserving landscapes by helping people improve their landscapes and to reduce the need for water, maintenance and other resources.  For most of the western United States, over fifty percent of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscaping can reduce landscape water use by 60% or more.

Fresh assorted vegetables in boxes on farmer's market

As we kick-off the summer, one of the many things we have to look forward to are the numerous farmers’ markets held throughout the Denver metro area.  Conscious Real Estate loves farmers’ markets, as they provide a great opportunity to pursue healthy living through fresh and organic food, while supporting our local farmers and the “locavore” movement—which benefits our environment by lessening the distance produce travels from its source and increased organic farming.

In addition to fresh produce, farmers’ markets also offer plenty of delicious baked goods and craft foods, and other unique specialty items of interest along with various entertainment and family-friendly festivities.  Farmers markets also provide a great way to explore the character of neighborhoods which you might be considering for a new home.

The following are a list of Denver area Farmers’ Markets worth a visit!

Cherry Creek Fresh Market

When: Saturdays, May 4 – October 26, 8am – 1pm & Wednesdays June 19 – September 25, 9am – 1pm.

Where: E.  1st  Ave & University Blvd., Denver

 

City Park Esplanade Fresh Market

When: Sundays, May 12 – October 27, 9 am – 1 pm

 Where: E. Colfax Ave. & Columbine St., Denver

 

Highland United Neighbors Farmers’ Market

When: Saturdays, June 1 – October 12, 9 am – 1 pm

Where: 1500 Boulder St., Denver

 

South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market

When: Sundays, May 19 – November 3, 9 am – 1 pm

Where: On the 1500 block of Old South Pearl St., between Florida Ave. and Iowa Ave., Denver

 

Stapleton Farmers’ Market

When:  Sundays,  June 16 – October 13, 8:30am – 12:30pm

Where: Founder’s Green next to the intersection of E. 29th Ave. and Roslyn St., Denver

 

The Market at Belmar

When: Sundays, June 2 – August 15, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Alaska Dr. and Teller St., just east of Alameda Ave. and Wadsworth Blvd., Lakewood

 

Littleton Farmers’ Market

When: Wednesdays, 10am – 3pm, June 12 – October 30

Where: Aspen Grove, 7301 S. Santa Fe Dr., Littleton

 

Highlands Ranch Farmers’ Market

 When: Sunday, 10 am – 2 pm, May 5 – October 27

Where: HR Town Center, 9288 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch

 

Wheat Ridge Farmers’ Market

When:  Wednesdays, 10am – 3pm, June 13 – October 24

Where: 4252 Wadsworth Blvd., Wheat Ridge

 

Aurora Farmers’ Market

When:  Mondays, 10am – 3pm, June 17October 28

Where:  Havana Exchange, 2712 S. Havana, Denver

 

Boulder Farmers’ Market

When:  Saturdays; 8am-2pm, from 1st Saturday of April to 3rd Saturday of November

Wednesdays; 4pm-8pm, from 1st Wednesday of May to 1st Wednesday of October

Where:  13th Street, betwen Canyon and Arapahoe, Boulder

denversmall 

      I love to be the bearer of good news!  Denver currently has a grant program to assist home-buyers with their down payments.  Lacking the funds for a down payment prevents many people from purchasing a home, so this program seeks to alleviate that problem for individuals and families with lower to moderate incomes.  This program provides up to 4% of the down payment and closing costs of the home for people applying for 30-year fixed rate mortgages.  This is not a loan; it is grant money.  It does not need to be paid back.

To find out whether you qualify, you may speak with a lender.  The guidelines are the following:  your income must be lower than $91,100 for households with two or fewer people, or less than $103,000 for a household with three or more people.  Your minimum credit score must be 640, (660 for manufactured homes.)  You must attend homebuyer counseling, which is free.  You must occupy the home as your primary residence. At this time, only homes in Denver, Arvada, Dacono, Edgewater, Littleton or Sheridan can be purchased through this program.

This program currently is funded at 15 million dollars, and is operating on a first-come, first-serve basis.  The funding is expected to last until approximately December 2014.

If you are interested in being connected with a lender to see if you qualify for this program, please contact me and I will provide you with a list of lenders.  In fact, my favorite lender is on that short list.  If you are accepted, I would love to help you find your new home!