If you’re renting in Denver, and currently want to buy a home, you may be looking a little outside city proper because of the home price difference. And, if you’re moving here from somewhere else, like so many are, you might want to think about the ‘burbs. They have a lot to offer, and a lot to save, money-wise. Here is a little information on three of Denver’s most livable west and northwest suburbs.

 

Lakewood, Colorado

 

Lakewood was the destination for Denver’s wealthiest families to have their summer homes (er mansions), and farms. As urban sprawl crept, Lakewood was developed into a metropolis. Now, the city is actually putting up signs to differentiate it from neighboring Denver and it has truly been coming into its own in the last 30 years. It is suburban, but about 15 minutes from downtown and 15 minutes from the foothills. This perfectly situated town offers many homes built from the 1950’s to present, including new construction, condos, and townhomes, yet Lakewood offers one more feature: mid-sized homes and more reasonable prices. It is not uncommon to find a home here for $350,000 (duplexes at $250,000), whereas in Denver, you would only be able to secure a condo (possibly), at the price of a home.

 

Arvada, Colorado

 

Did you know that the town of Arvada was named after a small island off the coast of Syria? Because of the leading citizen (Benjamin Franklin Wadsworth) and his wife’s decision to honor her brother-in-law, Hiram Arvada Haskin, Arvada got its name. The town originally was an afterthought from the failed gold finds in Denver, but became a strong agricultural community in time. Even now, it is “off the grid” from Denver, just a few miles north of the city, but enough to be called a “suburb.” And it’s a lovely one. With a unique downtown area, the historic “Olde Town”, it has an artsy vibe. The rest of the town consists of homes built from the 1950’s on up to new builds and even some farm land! With many reasonably sized homes in the offerings, so again, this suburb wins as far as price and size of home go – especially since you can reach downtown Denver in 20 minutes or have easy access to I-70 to get up to the mountains.

 

Westminster, Colorado

 

Just west of Arvada, we hit Westminster, another moderately priced (compared to the area) suburb. It does not have the cute downtown like Arvada, or shopping and dining center like Belmar in Lakewood, but living in Westminster means you are closer to halfway to Boulder (being next door to Broomfield). You would also be at a deluxe center of traffic avoidance being in the NW corner of the main highways. You are able to hop onto 36 to get to either the mountains or airport quite easily, or head to Boulder for a day trip in just over a half an hour or so. Getting downtown is about a 15 minute drive. It’s a great location, and homes at prices around $450K – $650K are available.

 

Finding a Home in the Denver Suburbs

 

Finding a home for sale in the Denver suburbs is easy. Just click here to start browsing. And, consider getting matched with an agent so that we can guide you as locals. We often compare real estate to dating, where we help you find that perfect home, taking into consideration all of the possibilities.

 

If you’ve been discouraged by Denver prices, consider setting an appointment with one of our agents to talk about the suburbs. Unlike other large cities, our suburbs are quite close to the center. One day, the “suburbs” will truly be a part of the whole, so getting into a home there now will help you start building your equity, which by all predictions, the market is set to continue increasing for all size homes in these areas.

January is Radon Action Month

January is Radon Action Month

Governor John Hickenlooper has declared that January will be Radon Action Month in Colorado. But, in all fairness, radon is a year-round issue.

What the heck is radon anyway?

Radon is the other odorless, invisible gas that can kill you, albeit much more slowly than carbon monoxide. According to EPA Estimates, Radon is the #1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. According to Carolyn Koke, director of market development for the AccuStar and RadonAway brands, radon is responsible for 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year–more than drunk driving, falls in the home, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

In Colorado, as many as 50-75% of homes are believed to have radon levels in excess of the EPA recommended action level of 4 picocuries (pCi) of radon per liter of air. Radon is a radioactive natural gas that comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water. Colorado shows higher radon levels than many states “because radon is a byproduct of the decay of uranium and it exists in our soil everywhere because we live in a highly mineralized state,” said Warren Smith, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Winter is the perfect time to test your home for radon, according to Chrystine Kelley, radon program manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “Testing your home for radon is simple and works best when all your doors and windows are closed,” Kelley said. “That’s why January is a great time to test, during National Radon Action Month.”

Radon is the other odorless, invisible gas that can kill you, albeit much more slowly than carbon monoxide.

If you are in the process of buying a home in Colorado, you can absolutely test for radon in your new home during the inspection period. However, there are some considerations to testing for radon during your real estate transaction…

  • If you test for radon during your inspection period, home inspectors will typically use a 48 hour radon test, which can be less accurate than the 3-month to 1-year radon test kits. Testing the home over a longer time period will give a far better picture of the true radon levels of the home, as the radon could be unusually high or low over any given 48 hour period.

 

  • The best time to test for radon is in the winter, when the home is all sealed up. A 3-month month test during the winter months will give the most accurate results to demonstrate how much radon is in your home, while a 1-year test will give you a true picture of how much radon shows up in your home over the course of time. Radon simply dissipates with air, so if doors and windows are kept open in the summer, radon levels will be lower or nonexistent.

 

  • If the home is currently inhabited by the seller while you test for radon, you have to trust that the seller is keeping the doors and windows closed during your test. If you are purchasing a home without air conditioning in the summer time, the seller would have to be willing to be unbearably hot for 48 hours on your behalf. In a perfect world, all sellers would happily do this. However, since a possible outcome of the seller’s discomfort would be that the home tests high for radon and now they are being asked to purchase a radon mitigation system for you, some sellers may not be compliant with radon testing.

 

  • If you are considering testing the home for radon during the inspection period, the question you should ask yourself is:

 

  • Even if this home tests high for radon during the inspection period, would I refuse to purchase this particular home if it tests high for radon and the seller refuses to install a mitigation system? (Keep in mind that it’s likely that other homes you may desire may also contain high radon levels with sellers who refuse to install a mitigation system.)

 

  • While 48-hour radon tests typically cost about $100, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offer a FREE test kit to Colorado households, which is likely to be more accurate. Long-term radon tests also tend to be less costly than the 48-hour tests.

Let’s recap. If you are questioning, “Should I test my home for radon?” The answer is definitely, “yes, yes, and yes.”

The question is: should you test the home for radon before you have purchased the home or after you purchase the home? The benefit of testing for radon before you have purchased the home is that you have a chance of getting the seller to install a radon mitigation system on their own dime. Of course, this is at the seller’s discretion and many sellers may not be interested in this expenditure.

What do you do if you already own your home and your home tests high for radon?

If radon levels are high, you can reduce them, but it’s not a DIY job. Certified mitigation providers may use several methods, including sealing cracks in floors and walls and installing underground pipes and an exhaust fan, to lower radon levels. A radon mitigation system in Colorado usually costs about $800-$1,200 unless difficult design problems are encountered. If your water comes from a private well and you found a radon problem when you tested the air in your home, you can also consider testing your water, although radon in water is typically less of an issue than radon in the air.

 

Here is the link for a FREE RADON TEST KIT: https://environmentalrecords.colorado.gov/HPRMWebDrawerHM/RecordHtml/403292

If you would like to learn more about the testing and mitigation of radon, here is a video from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that is accompanied by scary and ominous music. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1OcA1N2Tig&feature=youtu.be

 

house for sale in Denver, homes for sale in Denver, colorful colorado, colorado, real estate, denver real estate, conscious real estate

home, architecture, homes for sale, denver homes, denver homes for sale

Browse Denver neighborhoods, or better yet, fill out our super simple form below to get personalized answers from a real estate agent in Denver here at Conscious Real Estate.

 

house for sale in Denver, homes for sale in Denver, colorful colorado, colorado, real estate, denver real estate, conscious real estate

 

Houses in Denver are available to browse through when you sign up for the MLS or Multiple Listing Service. If you’ve bought a home before, you’ll know exactly what this is. If you’re a first-time homebuyer, the MLS system is a credible service used by licensed agents and backed by the National Association of Realtors.

Whatever you do… use Zillow and Trulia as general guides only. As opposed to the Multiple Listing Service, Zillow and Trulia are advertisers. That’s right. Many listings are fake, already sold, or have incorrect information. (We once traveled to go see a “home” a client found online at Zillow, only to find it was actually an abandoned and empty lot.)

Some of our favorite Denver neighborhoods include:

Bonnie Brae, Krisana Park, LoHi, RiNo, LoDo, Globeville, Alamo Placita, Baker, Downtown Denver, Capitol Hill, Uptown, Sloan’s Lake, Cherry Creek, Crestmoor, Park Hill, Mayfair, Lowry, City Park, Whittier, Jefferson Park, Wash Park (Washington Park), Platte Park, Berkeley, Sunnyside, Hill Top, Highlands, Cheesman Park, Congress Park, Governor’s Park, Jefferson Park, Observatory Park, Golden Triangle, Five Points, Curtis Park, University Hills, Lincoln Park, Regis, and Montclair-Mayfair.

We also love these Denver suburbs which can offer better prices and a bit more space potentially: Lakewood, Golden, Thornton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, DTC, Littleton, Westminster, Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Aurora.

About Conscious Real Estate (Are you conscious too? Meet your tribe.)

We’re conscious, we’re focused on you, we want what’s best for you, and we don’t focus on the bottom line in our pockets. (Many realtors do.) And, many realtors want to “just get this over with” and get you to sign so they can get paid.

Well, guess what? Not only do we have incredible integrity for your Denver real estate journey, we also donate a portion of our own commission to a nonprofit that you choose (this does not come from any costs to you, the home seller pays our real estate agent costs.)

Why not get started on finding out more…

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 2

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 2

Continuing the list of How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

Clearly, finding a good real estate agent is an issue. If  you google “how to find a good real estate agent,” you mostly find articles on how to identify a bad real estate agent… and for good reason. There are more shitheads in the real estate industry than in the White House. (As we all remember, Donald Trump started out in real estate… sigh…) Fact is, when you find a great real estate agent, they will earn every dime of their money.

Have you read Part 1?

Here are the second 4 ways to know that you have found a good real estate agent:

5) They are emotionally intelligent.

Real estate agents will need to be able to use various styles of negotiation over time and will need to have the emotional intelligence to know which negotiation tactics will be useful in different situations. A lot of real estate agents, or humans in general, only know one style of negotiation. Some are incredibly nice, some use a “take it or leave it” approach. If an agent is accustomed to working in the city and then needs to work with clients in a small town in the mountains, they will likely need to take a different approach in their negotiations because the super intense Gordon Gecko shit is going to freak the mountain people out. They live in the mountains for a reason – to get away from loud crazy people. Furthermore, some clients will require their agent to take a hard-headed approach to negotiations, whereas other clients prefer to keep things mellow.

A good real estate agent will also know when to push you or when to back off. Some clients may find the perfect home for them and they are afraid to commit. A good real estate agent will know the area and know if this client has found a rare gem and that now is the time to jump on it! And other times, if the client isn’t quite ready yet, if the agent knows the area well, they can assure their clients that another home with that little extra “something” will come along soon.

6) Your agent pretty much always responds to you in a timely manner.

Things happen quickly in real estate. The Denver real estate market moves incredibly quickly and if home-buyers can’t view the property right away, it will go under contract pretty quickly if it’s priced correctly.

Furthermore, a lot of home-buyers and sellers get kind of freaked out during the process. I started noticing this while helping my friends with their real estate deals. Since I know how they are on a normal day, I have seen some of my most mellow friends start to lose their shit when they’ve had to buy or sell homes. Moving can be a huge stressor. There are a lot of moving parts (cheesy pun intended) and unfamiliar concepts during a real estate transaction. This can be very upsetting for Capricorns who like to understand every step of the process as though they actually are a real estate agent. If you have an agent who responds to you quickly, it can help to put your mind at ease if you have a question that’s burning a hole in your brain.

It can be tough to know what to look for in a good real estate agent.

7) They’re proactive.

A lot of issues can be avoided by planning ahead. Surprises will always come up, but a good real estate agent will foresee the majority of potential problems in advance and at least give you a warning.  If your home doesn’t sell quickly for asking price, this agent is looking ahead to see what additional marketing they could add or if there are any quick and easy fixes to an issue that may be deterring potential home-buyers. If you are a home-buyer who is having a difficult time finding a home in your price range, a good real estate agent will be constantly creating new ways to find you a home in a competitive market. If you are purchasing a home, a good real estate agent will ensure that you are thoroughly inspecting the home and will have helped you carefully craft your offer so that you haven’t offered more than what the home will appraise for.

8) They’re honest with you, sometimes painfully so.

Every real estate agent has to be the bearer of bad news from time to time. We don’t look forward to this, but if we are truly being loyal to you and doing the best job we possibly can, then we have to do it, no matter how bad it hurts.

Maybe your dogs have used the carpet as a latrine one too many times, and you can’t smell it because you’re used to it. No one wants to tell you that your home smells bad, but if we are going to sell your home for top dollar, it needs to be free of pervasive odors. Maybe you feel incredibly soothed by your chocolate brown walls, but a lot of buyers prefer a warm light gray and we can sell your home for more money if you repaint your walls a more neutral color. Maybe you have spent your entire adult life working on your Star Wars figurine collection, but it’s not likely to photograph well or be attractive to buyers, so we might need to put Princess Leia in storage. Maybe we just found out that your last real estate agent sold you the home without doing a thorough inspection and now you are on the hook for $10,000 to replace your sewer line. Maybe your home just isn’t worth as much as you thought it was. Maybe your mom did real estate for 40 years and has now given you advice that is incorrect and we have to tell you that your mom is wrong. Seriously, my dearest client… I would rather stab myself in the eye than tell you that your darling mother is incorrect. All of this sucks. But if we are doing our jobs to the best of our ability, we will be honest with you even when it hurts.

The good news is that great real estate agents exist! You don’t just have to put up with an agent who doesn’t have your best interests at heart. If you don’t feel right with the first agent who you’ve met, interview some others until you find an agent who can provide you with a positive experience.

Want a Fantastic Agent instead of a Problem Agent?  Give us a call at 303-908-9873.  

Make sure you read Part 1 of How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 1

The Conscious Group - How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good: Part 1

Clearly, finding a good real estate agent is an issue. If  you google “how to find a good real estate agent,” you mostly find articles on how to identify a bad real estate agent… and for good reason. There are more shitheads in the real estate industry than in the White House. (As we all remember, Donald Trump started out in real estate… sigh…) Fact is, when you find a great real estate agent, they will earn every dime of their money.

A lot of agents will have practiced convincing scripts that are designed to get you to hire them. These scripts are formulated to be effective and many real estate agents play the numbers game. “If you talk to X amount of people using Y tactic in Z amount of time, you are likely to earn A.” For instance, these agents will use your name regularly throughout the conversation because that is a proven tactic to get people to like you… (I outlined a lot of the talking points included in these scripts in a previous series of posts, “Shit Real Estate Agents Say To Get You To Hire Them.”)

You are not a number, you are a person and you should be treated as such. A good real estate agent isn’t going to use a bunch of crappy tactics to get your business. A good real estate agent will be honest with you. They will be authentic. They won’t have to utilize a script, but rather, will be able to have a conversation. They will show how they can be of service to you. A good real estate agent will earn your business.

As a consumer, it can be tough to know what to look for in a good real estate agent.

Real estate transactions truly are a convoluted process. In some cases, a consumer may be able to sell or purchase a home without the help of a real estate agent and not lose money, but those situations are few and far between. Most often, you need a (good) real estate agent. A good real estate agent will be able to gain your business without the bullshit… unless you enjoy falling for bullshit. Some people do and that’s ok. And some of you lovely people tend to succumb to pressure… or you want to believe the best in people and take what they say at face value.

Here are the first 4 ways to know that you have found a good real estate agent:

1) You feel comfortable around them.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been showing properties when another group of potential home-buyers enters who look miserable and awkward with their agent. I have seen agents stop everything to give their clients a history of residential electricity during moments that were completely out of context. I have seen agents mistakenly telling their clients that the floors are original hardwoods, when they’re clearly not only not original, but are made of manufactured product. Often, clients look like they have to “behave” around their realtor, like they are with their boss or are meeting their partner’s family for the first time.

You should not have to “behave” around your realtor. They are working for you, not vice versa. Whatever it takes for you to feel comfortable, whether you need to speak your mind freely, ask a million questions, vent about the process, breastfeed your child, or have a bowel movement, this is your time. You are buying or selling a house, dammit. It’s kind of a big deal. There should be no walking on eggshells – only honesty and communication.

If an agent is just coming at you with a sales pitch when you first meet, you are likely to feel uncomfortable. Get out there. When a good real estate agent meets with you for the first time, they will address how they can best meet your needs – not what supposedly makes them so much more special than any other agent.

Furthermore, consider this: if a real estate agents comes across to you as off-putting, how will the other side perceive them when it comes time to negotiate? If you are a home-buyer in a competitive market like the Denver metro area, sellers will be less likely to accept your offer if your realtor comes across as difficult or obnoxious.

2) They listen (instead of constantly running their mouth.)

This should be really obvious, but apparently, it’s not. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell horror stories about realtors who simply didn’t listen throughout the course of their transaction. If an agent doesn’t listen to their clients, how are they going to achieve their objectives? If an agent isn’t listening to a home-seller, they may miss some key information about your property that will help it to sell for top dollar. Or if an agent isn’t listening to a home-buyer, they may waste their time by showing them a lot of homes that they aren’t interested in.

Some of my recent clients fired their previous agent to work with me. Among the many things that their previous agent did wrong, she didn’t listen. My clients explained to their previous agent during the inspection period that if the sellers didn’t fix the problems with the property, they were not interested in moving forward with the transaction. Period. Simple. They clearly expressed this to their agent, yet their agent ignored their wishes and continued to pressure her clients into moving forward with the transaction. What their agent should have done would have been to apply that same pressure to the home-sellers to fix the problems that the buyers desired. This agent clearly forgot who she worked for, and also, she simply didn’t listen. I assure you, these particular clients communicated very clearly and effectively. If she would have listened to her clients and understood that they meant what they said, she would have earned her commission. Instead, I got to pick up some clients who were already familiar with the market and already knew exactly what they wanted. All I had to do was my job, while they lavished praise upon me. They even bought me a sweater.

The good news is that great real estate agents exist!

3) They ask questions.

Not only do they ask questions, they ask good questions. How long do you want to stay in this home? What are your ideal goals for this property? Do you have the resources or the desire for a fixer-upper? Do you plan on staying at your job for a long time and if not, where might your job move? Which is more important – being near your work or being near your play? Will living near a busy street bother you? You’ve mentioned loving dogs – do you plan to get one (or many?) You mentioned wanting top dollar for your home – are you willing to paint the home, since “burnt sienna” has not been in style since 1993?

You may have your mind bogged down with this process, but a good real estate agent is like a detective. They will anticipate and meet your needs for many years to come by asking the right questions.

Many of my clients who are relocating to Denver need guidance on neighborhoods and areas. Most realtors just begin suggesting popular neighborhoods to their clients.  Here’s the thing: every neighborhood in Denver is popular these days and LoHi isn’t for everyone. I simply ask clients what their neighborhoods were like in their previous city and ask them what they did and didn’t like about their old neighborhood. I then use that information to guide my clients in which neighborhoods may work for them in Denver. We then drive around to various areas that could be a good match before we ever view homes.

4) They are here to serve their client, rather than themselves.

Real estate is supposed to be a service industry, but a lot of agents make the mistake of believing that they are in sales because they “sell” homes. Here’s the thing: the homes have to sell themselves, (although we can certainly showcase them in their best light.) Yet a lot of agents working with buyers push their clients to purchase homes that aren’t right for them, so they can close the deal and move on to something else. I understand why they do this – if the buyers don’t purchase this home, it could be several more months before they finally do purchase a home, which takes a lot of time and energy. The agents may simply need money now, so they push their clients to move more quickly than the situation calls for. Or listing agents may not get top dollar for their sellers, because that requires a lot more work. And yes – this stuff does take a lot of work. I have absolutely had days where I spend a lot of time winning a relatively small amount of money for my clients. It’s not necessarily a fun or relaxing way to spend a Tuesday – but if it’s important to their clients, a good real estate agent will make it a priority and do their best to achieve the desired outcome.

Want a Fantastic Agent instead of a Problem Agent?  Give us a call at 303-908-9873.  

Check back next week for more on How to Know if a Real Estate Agent is Any Good.

Buying vs Renting - The Conscious Group

Buying vs Renting - The Conscious Group

Buying a home can be a major responsibility. If something breaks, you fix it. You have upfront costs. You have to fill out paperwork. And then you have to fill out more paperwork. And then, just when you thought you were done… you guessed it! Even. More. Paperwork.

Many personal finance bloggers who are way more hip than me write compelling articles about why they will never buy a house again. They talk about the huge costs required to purchase a home. The tax advantages aren’t what they used to be. One article suggested that a reason to continue renting is to avoid the responsibility of changing the outdoor light bulbs. Sigh…

I admit, buying a house is typically less exciting than going to a music festival… unless you have really weird ideas about what constitutes a good time or unless you are being filmed on HGTV as you purchase a two-million dollar tree house with your fortune gained from making contemporary art sculptures out of rubber bands and recycled wig hair.

However, owning a home isn’t without its own fun. You can paint murals on the walls, you can adopt as many ferrets as the law will allow, and any improvements you do on the property will contribute to your equity rather than the equity of your landlord.

If you own your home, the rent won’t be raised, or the landlord can’t kick you out because they decide to sell the property or move back into the home once you have made it beautiful and cozy.

Buying a home could be right for you… or not. Let’s address your concerns…

Are you afraid of being tied down?

Everyone is afraid of being tied down, except for Capricorns.

Let’s talk about that… what does “being tied down” mean to you? If you need to move to go back to school next year, that’s valid. You are literally being tied down by something and you probably shouldn’t buy a home this year. If you’re not even sure if you like the area where you’re living, then maybe you shouldn’t buy a house yet.

Often, the feeling of being tied down is just that – a feeling. If you further examine that feeling, you may actually find freedom in the things that you perceive as being limitations. For instance, if being “tied down” means that you don’t like having to spend a lot of money on your living expenses, buying a home could actually provide you with more freedom.

One of my clients was ambivalent about buying a home, so we discussed what made him feel tied down. He wanted the ability to travel at a moment’s notice and to not be encumbered financially. However, he didn’t mind having roommates and sharing his space with friends. I helped him to purchase a 5-bedroom home and he immediately rented out 4 of the bedrooms. He lives in his home for free, because the income from his tenants covers the entire mortgage. He is able to save his living expenses, he makes an additional payment toward his principal every month, and he still goes to Burning Man every year. How does that sound for “not being tied down?” This guy nailed it.

Do you want to be able to travel?

We all do. Even my dad travels now… he’s the guy wearing socks and sneakers at the beach.

Owning a home isn’t necessarily an obstacle to travel, you just have to make it work.

If you are currently living in a rental and are able to travel, how have you achieved this so far? The same method should apply to home ownership, unless you simply travel between leases and put your stuff in storage each time you want to leave. Furthermore, as someone who has traveled quite a bit, I personally appreciate having roots. Having a home to return to has been key to reintegrate into life upon return. Do you really want to get off that plane with hellacious jet lag and then have to figure out how to rent a new place and drag your stuff out of storage while you’re trying to process all of the life-changing experiences you just had? (Maybe you do! If so, you have far stronger constitution than myself.)

If you would like to travel long-term, you can rent your property and the tenants can cover your mortgage while you are away. Hire a reputable property management company to manage your rental in your absence. (Technically, you could do it yourself, but if you are traveling off-grid, you wouldn’t be able to call a plumber if a pipe bursts or something.) Depending on the area, it’s possible that you could even make a profit by renting your property during your absence.

If you are traveling for a shorter period of time, you can rent out your property on Airbnb. Several companies and individuals professionally run Airbnbs for homeowners. They handle the bookings, guest communications, and clean your property between guests. In Denver, I have had several friends who earned enough money by renting their home on Airbnb, it was more profitable for them to live in Bali and do yoga than it was for them to stay home and work. This is especially great for people who can work remotely, like web designers, graphic designers, and so forth. (Check your local laws before moving forward with a short-term rental, as many areas require a license.)

Do you not have $50,000 (or 20%) for your down payment?

This notion that you have to have a lot of money saved for your down payment is often a misconception. If you have good credit (or even decent credit), you probably don’t need to have a 20% down payment.

Conventional loans allow you to purchase a home as low as 3% down if you have excellent credit, while FHA loans allow 3.5% down payments for folks with mediocre credit. In Colorado, CHFA loans allow home-buyers to purchase a home with .5% down, which is typically going to be less than what you would pay for first and last month’s rent with a deposit on a rental. If you are a United States Veteran, you are likely eligible for a VA loan which will allow you to purchase a home with zero money down. (Note: in all of the cases above, you will likely still need to have closing costs available.)

(The 20% down payment myth likely originated from misunderstanding the rules about mortgage insurance. If you don’t put 20% down on your home, then you will have to pay mortgage insurance until you reach 20% equity. Once you hit that 20%, you can refinance to drop the mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance sucks and it doesn’t benefit you whatsoever, but it can be a necessary evil to purchase a home. Chat with a lender to see if you could purchase a property for less than what you pay in rent, even with the mortgage insurance included in your monthly payment.)

Do you tend to trust the wrong people on a very regular basis?

This can be an issue. If you wind up hiring a shitty real estate agent, they may pressure you into buying a home that isn’t right for you. If you know this about yourself, get some friends to help you interview the agents or get agent referrals from someone you trust. Watch out for answers that sound flaky. This is not a time for you to be worried about hurting other people’s feelings or whether you are coming across as “nice.” There is too much at stake. This is a time for you to really vet these “professionals” and ensure you’re picking the right person for the job. Don’t be afraid to say no if it doesn’t feel right!

Maybe bring your bitchiest friend to interview real estate agents – it sounds silly, but seriously… we all have a bitchy friend and we might as well put their skills to use! If the real estate agent can pass the Bitchy Friend Test, you can hire this person to be your buyer’s agent.

And make sure to check out the  Shit Real Estate Agents Say to Get You to Hire Them series for more things to watch out for!

Will you have to use your nest egg to purchase a home?

This can be a bit of a sticky wicket. Many of us purchased our homes and then quickly scrambled to rebuild our nest egg in the event of unexpected, but necessary home repairs. Most of us were able to do so successfully. However, there is always the chance of a SNAFU occurring before you have replenished your savings. In this case, if something major goes wrong with your home, you may not be able to cover it. This is a valid concern and I would suggest that you take this possibility very seriously.

To decrease the likelihood of this scenario, you should have the home professionally and thoroughly inspected prior to purchase. (Of course, things may look fine one week and fall apart the next. That’s life.) Strongly weigh the pros and cons of this scenario. I purchased my home on a prayer and dime and everything worked out. My home greatly increased in value, very quickly. Had I not taken the chance, I would not have received the rewards, but it was a risk. Of course, I do real estate, so I knew what I was doing. Make sure that you are aware of the market in which you are buying and that you have a trustworthy agent who will work to find you a home in an area that is likely to appreciate.

Do you have a super unique rental situation in which you pay rent that is priced well below the market?

If you are one of the lucky ones who would actually have to pay a lot more to purchase a home than what you’re paying in rent (and you’re happy), stay right where you’re at! Take advantage of the situation while it lasts but be aware that it won’t last forever! Save your money. If your situation changes unexpectedly and you didn’t plan ahead, you may not have enough money saved to purchase a home or even to pay rent if the market has greatly increased.

In Conclusion:

For the past few years in Denver, home ownership has more often been a better scenario than renting, as rents have continued to rise. If these renters had purchased a home at any point, they would now have a good amount of equity in their home. Their living costs would be stabilized instead of continuously rising. All in all, home ownership is a good move for most people, but there are always the exceptions to the rule and buying a home is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Not all houses are created equal. Not all housing markets are created equal. Not all real estate agents are created equal. Do your research and dig deep into your values to discover the life you would like to create. With the right information, the right team, and some creativity, home ownership has the potential to help take you to the next level… or not.

Greetings Nonprofiteers!

We all know that a strong and vibrant community makes real differences in real lives. That’s why your work to build, sustain, and strengthen our common fabric provides lasting inspiration well beyond the walls of your organizations.

As the owner of Conscious Real Estate – the premier Denver residential real estate brokerage that gives back to our community – I sought to develop brokerage that followed this example.

That’s why Conscious Real Estate, as a standard practice, donates 10% of every commission to a nonprofit of our client’s choice.

Through our work, I have met many of you, donated to some, and endeavor to take common cause with all your efforts.

We here at Conscious Real Estate are grateful to have had the opportunity to do this work over the past three years and watch your organizations grow and flourish. At the same time, we are dismayed by the obvious headwinds facing nonprofits in 2017 and beyond. With that in mind, Conscious Real Estate is committed to redoubling our efforts to sustain your vital role in our community.

A bit about how our brokerage works: When a Client purchases or sells a home through a Conscious Real Estate agent, the Client chooses a non-profit to which we donate 10% of the sale commission. While Conscious is exclusively a residential broker, we facilitate a similar arrangement for commercial real estate transactions through a partner broker, Forte Commercial Real Estate. Put another way – the more we grow, the more we give.

Allison Parks (Conscious Real Estate Founder, left) with Tiana Nelson (President and Chief Operating Officer, PawsCo)

So what are the results so far? In 2016, our average donation per transaction was well over $1000. This is real money for real organizations providing support and development to real communities – our community.

While we have received extremely positive feedback about the impact we have made thus far – feedback that we treasure – we still have significant work ahead of us. Our efforts to continue supporting you rely on your generous referral of Conscious Real Estate to your friends, family, and supporters. At the same time, we know that since your hands are always busy and your time is always short, you can’t regularly engage with Conscious to learn about the work we do.

In our heartfelt effort to keep an open line with our non-profit friends, we created this (occasional) newsletter just for non-profits to speak to only your needs. Through this forum, we seek to establish a tighter bond with you so you know the initiatives we pursue to support your work.

With this newsletter, we will include a toolbox for you that will include pre-written social media posts, pre-written newsletter blurbs, and ways that you can mention us to your supporters. We can also provide fliers, business cards, and other collateral to assist in your outreach efforts. Also, since this is a collaborative effort, we look forward to your feedback about the trends in the non-profit world and how your organizations can best be supported.

Finally – if we haven’t met – let’s meet! Please don’t hesitate to contact me through telephone, text, tweet, or smoke signal. I’d love to make your acquaintance. Again, I truly appreciate everything you do for our community and that’s why I created a business to help support you.

After all, you support our community – and that supports us all.

 

Warm regards,

Allison Parks

A champion for the people, the American Civil Liberties Union was born in the years following World War I. During those tumultuous times, many people feared the “spread of Communism” thereby rounding up “radicals” for deportation. To make matters worse, those arrested were treated inhumanely. The situation called for an advocate and the ACLU stepped up to the plate to defend their civil rights.

The ACLU also partnered with Clarence Darrow during the “evolution education” Scopes Trial of 1925, promoting the importance of academic freedom. The ACLU also backed Japanese Americans interred in “war relocation camps.” Later, the organization would challenge segregation in its many forms.

“The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. We’re a private institution funded exclusively by the generous donations of our supporters. Our mission is to protect, defend and extend the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Colorado through litigation, education and advocacy.” – ACLU of Colorado

Fast forward to today and people are still being deported on shaky grounds, racism still exists, women and men are still on unequal grounds and civil rights are still being violated. Yet, the ACLU is working harder than ever to promote freedom and educate the public on their rights. While they are only able to take a few select cases a year and rely on volunteers to continue their cause, they have a lot of crucial guides on their website such as:

  • Protest/Demonstrations Rights
  • Encountering a Police Officer (with video tutorial)
  • Photographer’s Rights
  • LGBT Discrimination at Businesses
  • Students’ Rights at Public Schools
  • Rights of Nursing Mothers at Work
  • Disability Rights

The ACLU wants you to be informed, which is the best way to avoid your civil liberties being infringed upon. (They even have printable wallet cards on their site.) And, if something has happened to violate your rights, contact the ACLU to state your case and find out the next steps.

In our state of Colorado, immigration and criminal justice reform are top concerns. On immigration, many Colorado residents worry about the new administration and how the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will handle their cases now. In fact, ICE reports that immigration-related arrests are up by 40% in 2017.

And, in April of this year, 26 people in Colorado and Wyoming were arrested on immigration charges. Some of the recent arrests are clouded in suspicion over how the arrested were treated. In one claim, a Gunnison man says he was detained for multiple days without being told why.

“You don’t look like you were born in Montrose,” one of the agents told him, according to one of the suits. The man is a U.S. citizen and was born in the States.

He also says he was searched without a warrant. It took several days, several facilities, and the showing of his birth certificate from an immigration rights advocate to get him released – without letting him call his family, and with a dead cell phone and only $5 dollars in his pocket. These are the types of issues that the ACLU picks up on and hopes to eliminate when it comes to erroneous immigration enforcement.

On criminal justice, there are a lot of ways that Colorado can improve through the assistance of the ACLU. In one recent example, the Department of Youth Corrections was charged with using straitjackets, solitary confinement and physical force to subdue the inmates.  

“Youths locked up in Colorado’s juvenile corrections system are isolated for hours in tiny, barren rooms, wrapped in full-body straight jackets, and subdued with “knee strikes” and other pain-compliance techniques that have ended with rug burns, according to a detailed investigation released Thursday.” – Daily Record Colorado

And, in another case, an adult male prisoner was forced into solitary confinement for over 15 years. Sam Mendez, shown below in this video courtesy of the ACLU, now suffers from mental illness. You can watch his story below.

The ACLU is an important nonprofit that we value dearly. Their commitment to some of the most important facets of our society is admirable. They are here for humankind by supporting:

  • Criminal Justice Rights
  • Freedom of Expression and Religion
  • Government Transparency
  • Immigrants’ Rights
  • LGBT Equality
  • Privacy & Technology
  • Racial Justice
  • Reproductive Freedom
  • Student & Youth Rights
  • Voting Rights
  • Women’s Rights

At Conscious Real Estate, we donate 10% of every home sale to a nonprofit of our clients’ choice. This pic is of agent Kimberly McAleenan and founder Allison Parks presenting their check for donation to the ACLU of Colorado to Jill Higham, Philanthropy Director and Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director.

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Kimberly McAleenan (center, left) and founder Allison Parks (center, right) presenting their check for donation to the ACLU of Colorado to Jill Higham (left), Philanthropy Director and Nathan Woodliff-Stanley, Executive Director (far right).

For more information on the ACLU of Colorado, click here.

And, to connect with one of our socially conscious realtors, click here.

 

How much do YOU want to change the world?

Here at Conscious Real Estate, we want to change the world a lot. Let’s talk about what we do… We help people buy and sell houses and we love that!  But we took it one step further and created a philanthropic real estate business model.

We are Colorado’s only real estate social enterprise.  Each time one of our clients buys or sells a home with us, we contribute 10% of our own commission to the nonprofit of our clients’ choice.

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Here is some sad news… On the day of this writing, August 21, 2015, Conscious Real Estate did NOT close on any homes.  Yet a quick look at the MLS states that 299 homes sold on this day in Colorado.  Our owner, Allison Parks, decided to tally up the total sales prices of 100 of these homes.  Taking the total of these 100 sales into consideration and considering that commission is negotiable, our estimate is that if those buyers and sellers would have used Conscious Real Estate on just one side of the deal, that would have generated around $75,000 to $100,000 for nonprofits.  That’s right… we could donate that in just one day of real estate sales.

Imagine what a DIFFERENCE that $75,000 to $100,000 could make in our local and global community from JUST… ONE… DAY of people buying and selling houses with Conscious Real Estate.  And that’s if we only represent 1/3 of Colorado’s home sales from that one day…

Now imagine if those buyers and sellers used Conscious Real Estate for those 100 home sales each day next week, just Monday through Friday.  That would create $375,000 to $500,000 for nonprofits in just one week.  What difference do you think that could make?

In one month, it would create $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 for nonprofits.  What difference would THAT make?

In a year, that would create $18,000,000 to $24,000,000. That is an enormous amount of money to give away and quite frankly, nothing would make us happier.

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Every day at Conscious Real Estate is Colorado Gives Day.

We’re here, folks.  We are willing to do the work.  We are willing to grow as big as we need to, we are willing to hire more people and create jobs, and we will always keep our commitment to customer service our top priority.  We know that, without our clients, we are nothing. We will keep our communities close to our heart every step of the way and implement innovative business practices that increase the greater social good.

If you would like to change the world with us and you have a friend who is planning to buy or sell a home, let them know that they can make a difference with their next real estate transaction if they work with Conscious Real Estate.  For more information, please contact Allison Parks at 303-908-9873 or allison@theconsciousgroup.com.

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