AtHomeColorado.com http://athomecolorado.com Colorado Home and Real Estate Mon, 06 Jul 2015 22:27:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Pink flamingos lose their creator http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/pink-flamingos-lose-their-creator/ http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/pink-flamingos-lose-their-creator/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:24:26 +0000 http://athomecolorado.com/?p=6412 BOULDER COUNTY – On June 22, the world of garden kitsch suffered a loss when Don Featherstone, the creator of pink flamingos, passed away. The brightly colored, whimsical birds are pop culture icons that are adored by many as indispensable yard art, along with gnomes and gazing balls. I admit to having a passion for [...]

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Carol O'Meara - Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara – Colorado State University Extension

BOULDER COUNTY – On June 22, the world of garden kitsch suffered a loss when Don Featherstone, the creator of pink flamingos, passed away. The brightly colored, whimsical birds are pop culture icons that are adored by many as indispensable yard art, along with gnomes and gazing balls.

I admit to having a passion for flamingos. A good sized flock of them adorn my patio and a string of them, immortalized as twinkle lights, provide my office with cheer. At Christmas we put out giant, light-up versions dressed in holiday cheer.

“The appeal of flamingos lies precisely in the fact that they’re tasteless art,” said Dr. Brian Ott, Visiting Professor of Media Studies and pop culture expert at the University of Colorado, Denver in conversation in 2011. “Our older generation may have put them into the garden with a straight face, but now – particularly with pink flamingos – people are doing it tongue in cheek, as a means of irony.”

Flamingos were introduced in 1957 by Featherstone, an artist who worked for Union Products plastics company.  Sold in pairs, with one standing tall, the other with head lowered to eat, flocks of these fowl are often used as a prank, planted onto lawns as a surprise greeting to the homeowner. To celebrate one famous flocking, the Madison, Wisconsin, Common Council declared the plastic pink flamingo the official city bird in 2009.

“I have no idea why people love flamingos so much, but we get calls from across the country from people who want them,” says Claude Chapdelaine, Vice President of Cado Products Company, makers of the original plastic pink flamingos. “We make plastic frogs, turtles, penguins, but the flamingos are the thing people want.”

Purchasing the copyrights and molds in 2010, Cado Products are keeping the American icon alive after a brief stint out of production. “It’s taken us a little time to get ready for full production,” said Chapdelaine, “we had to put an addition onto our factory in order to make them.  But demand is huge.”

Gardeners are drawn to displaying this kitsch for two reasons, said Ott: to make an ironic statement celebrating tastelessness (which we actually really love), and as a conversation piece in particular spaces.  Stumble upon one in the garden, and you’re sure to question the gardener about their sanity.

The neon pink flamingo is in-your-face, projecting a sense of counter culture and flaunting of rules. “By displaying flamingos, people are being transgressive; there’s almost a subversive element,” said Ott. “They’re socially edgy; the adult version of being a punk rock teenager with colored hair.”

Subversive or subtle, your garden is richer because of these ornaments, so choose them with care and display them proudly.

Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238.

Pink flamingos lose their creator
By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

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Buyer mistakes to avoid before closing http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/buyer-mistakes-to-avoid-before-closing/ http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/buyer-mistakes-to-avoid-before-closing/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 22:10:00 +0000 http://athomecolorado.com/?p=6409 LOVELAND – You’ve found your dream home and your offer was accepted. It’s time to celebrate…well, maybe not yet. The time between getting your offer accepted and actually closing on your new home is a delicate period. It’s important not to make mistakes that could delay or ruin your home purchase plans. Here are some [...]

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Suzanne Plewes, RE/MAX Alliance

Suzanne Plewes, RE/MAX Alliance

LOVELAND – You’ve found your dream home and your offer was accepted. It’s time to celebrate…well, maybe not yet. The time between getting your offer accepted and actually closing on your new home is a delicate period. It’s important not to make mistakes that could delay or ruin your home purchase plans. Here are some common buyer mistakes.

Making large purchases
Your mortgage qualification is based on a lender evaluating your assets and debts. A major purchase such as a car or even furniture can throw off those numbers and lower your credit score. Your lender may need to re-run your qualification based on the new figures and credit score.

This process could delay the closing. Your mortgage terms (such as interest rate) may change. The worst case scenario is that you may no longer qualify to purchase the home that you have under agreement. Play it safe and wait until after closing to make major purchases.

Changing jobs
Another factor in your mortgage approval is employment status and history. Lenders like to see a certain amount spent with your current employer (i.e. at least 90 days). Changing jobs in the middle of the approval process could cause serious problems, especially if your new job involves a completely different line of work.

In some cases, an exception may be approved if your new job involves similar work to your old job. This really depends on the lender. If you know ahead of time that you may be going through a job change, notify your lender in advance to ensure that it will not create a problem. If at all possible, wait until after your closing to change jobs. Remember that lenders actually call your current employer right before closing to confirm that you are in fact still employed.

Making last minute changes
As mentioned above, your mortgage approval is based on the review of certain facts. Making changes will require your application to go through the review process all over again. Some commonly requested changes are:

Changing your loan program (i.e. from Conventional to FHA)

Increasing your loan amount (to roll in costs or reduce your down payment)

Depending on when you request these changes, your closing may be delayed. If you need to make these changes, do so as early as possible in the process. Be sure to also ask about timelines and whether the change will interfere with your closing.

Other mistakes to avoid before closing
There are other mistakes that could cause problems with your home purchase. To avoid mishaps, it is important to work with a good loan officer and real estate agent.

Suzanne Plewes is a Broker Associate at RE/MAX Alliance in Loveland. If you have questions regarding real estate, please write to 750 W. Eisenhower Blvd., Loveland, CO  80537, call 970.290.0373 or e-mail suzanneplewes@remax.net.

Buyer mistakes to avoid before closing
By Suzanne Plewes, RE/MAX Alliance

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Spring has sprung, albeit a little late, in Boulder Valley real estate market http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/spring-has-sprung-albeit-a-little-late-in-boulder-valley-real-estate-market/ http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/spring-has-sprung-albeit-a-little-late-in-boulder-valley-real-estate-market/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:45:40 +0000 http://athomecolorado.com/?p=6406 BOULDER – The Boulder Valley real estate market was a late bloomer this year, with the spring uptick in sales and inventory not showing robust growth until May. “Things are looking pretty positive,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “We had a slow April but May [...]

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BOULDER – The Boulder Valley real estate market was a late bloomer this year, with the spring uptick in sales and inventory not showing robust growth until May.

“Things are looking pretty positive,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “We had a slow April but May turned out to be a strong month for sales and inventory gains for single-family homes as well as condos and townhomes.

“The month-to-month statistics are pretty solid.”

Boulder County saw 347 single-family homes sell in May, a 22 percent increase compared with April’s 284 sales. It also had 561 homes on the market, a 15 percent improvement compared with the 487 available homes the month before.

The condominium/townhome sales jumped 17 percent in May, with 139 units selling compared with the 119 that sold in April. And its inventory also improved nearly 15 percent, from 94 units available in April to 108 units for sale in May.

In comparing incorporated areas of Boulder County, the 328 single-family home sales in May was a 22 percent increase over the 268 units selling in April. And inventory improved 12 percent, with 530 homes on the market in May compared with 473 in April.

Townhome and condominium sales for the incorporated areas were the same as for the county, though inventory differed slightly, growing only 12.6 percent month over month for the incorporated areas.

Single-family home sales in those communities for the first five months of 2015 improved 8.5 percent compared with 2014, from 1,099 sales to 1,192. Condo/townhome sales also saw an 8.5 percent improvement, from 481 units selling in the first five months of 2014 to 522 units selling in the same time period this year.

All of Boulder County saw 1,262 single-family homes sell in the first five months of the year, a 7.8 percent increase compared with the 1,171 homes that sold during the same time last year. And 525 condos/townhomes sold from January through May, a 6.7 percent increase.  

“The brisk upturn in May gave us a solid gain for year-to-date” statistics, Hotard says.

Colorado continues to see job growth, and the economy is on a solid track for improvement, he notes.

“This market is just a bit weird,” Hotard says. “The improvement in inventory is likely a contributing factor in the boost in sales: having new products in the market got some buyers off the fence and finding a greater selection of homes to buy.”

Hotard was not surprised to hear that the Colorado home prices appreciated 11 percent in the first quarter, considering countywide median sale prices of single-family homes increased nearly 16 percent and average sale prices increased 23.5 percent in May compared with a year ago.

“That’s certainly reflected in the prices we’re seeing,” he says. “Colorado is a highly desirable place to be, as we all know. We’re seeing strong job growth, encouraging people to move here, and historic limited inventory causes prices to rise.” 

For more information, contact Tom Kalinski at RE/MAX of Boulder at 303.441.5620 or e-mail tomkalinski@mindspring.com.

Spring has sprung, albeit a little late, in Boulder Valley housing market
By Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

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Return to reasonable lending opens door to homeownership http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/return-to-reasonable-lending-opens-door-to-homeownership/ http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/return-to-reasonable-lending-opens-door-to-homeownership/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:41:26 +0000 http://athomecolorado.com/?p=6404 Home-buying season is heating up. Homes sold faster in April than at any point in almost the last two years, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing-home sales are on pace to top 5 million this year. Consumers are rushing into the housing market thanks in part to the Federal [...]

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Home-buying season is heating up. Homes sold faster in April than at any point in almost the last two years, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Existing-home sales are on pace to top 5 million this year.

Consumers are rushing into the housing market thanks in part to the Federal Housing Administration’s decision to reduce mortgage insurance premiums by 0.5 percent earlier this year. The move could save 2 million homeowners an average of $900 a year and allow a quarter of a million Americans to buy their first home.

Affordable financing doesn’t just help homebuyers. An increase in the number of potential buyers boosts prices for sellers. And it encourages builders to expand the supply of housing, which benefits the entire economy.

Lenders and regulators must commit to maintaining reasonable mortgage lending standards like these, which lay the foundation for sustained economic prosperity.

In recent years, many potential homebuyers have faced excessively strict lending requirements, including higher fees and premiums for mortgages insured by the federal government. These regulations prevented thousands of Americans with good credit from buying homes – especially young people and minorities.

In 2014, the millennial generation was responsible for 32 percent of all home sales.  Currently, only 30 percent of sales are to first-time buyers. That’s 10 percent below the historical average.

FHA has been seeing fewer mortgage applications because of the agency’s high fees and insurance rates. Homebuyers have found cheaper mortgages elsewhere – or put off homeownership entirely.

FHA was created to help expand access to homeownership, especially to first-time buyers. By cutting insurance premiums, it will be able to fulfill that mission once again.

The agency’s critics claim that “loosening” credit standards will lead to another housing crisis. But today’s lending environment is vastly different from the pre-crisis one of seven years ago. It’s wrong to punish today’s borrowers for the problematic lending practices of the past.

Further, when evaluating a mortgage application, lenders prefer to develop a complete picture of a borrower. The financial crisis came about in large part because lenders failed to verify the information behind that picture. A return to the traditional practice of documentation and verification has led to the highest quality of underwritten loans and the lowest default rate in over a decade.

FHA has coupled its lending reforms with a $21 billion improvement in its single-family insurance fund, which compensates lenders in the event of default. Last year, for the first time since 2006, the agency’s capital reserves increased year-over-year and had a positive balance.

Other players in the mortgage market are following suit. Mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have reduced down-payment requirements for first-time homebuyers. Under the new terms, buyers will only need to put down 3 percent of the home’s cost, rather than the previous minimum of 5 percent.

Down payments alone are poor predictors of default. FHA has successfully insured loans with 3.5 percent down for decades.

Like FHA, Fannie and Freddie have retained guidelines ensuring that potential borrowers have strong credit scores and full documentation.

The two government-sponsored enterprises have also promised to pursue a more reasonable practice of mortgage “put backs.” They’ll no longer require private lenders to assume responsibility for loans simply because they had typos.

Rather than lead to another financial crisis, the federal government’s new policies will empower folks who were previously prevented from becoming homeowners.

That’s good for the economy. Every home sale generates $60,000 in additional economic activity.

By committing to lower mortgage insurance costs and reasonable lending requirements, our nation’s top housing officials can signal that they’re serious about making homeownership a reality for millions of Americans. That’s a move we should all get behind.

Dave Liniger is CEO, Chairman, and Co-Founder of RE/MAX LLC.

Return to reasonable lending opens door to homeownership
By Dave Liniger, RE/MAX, LLC.

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MAC EQUIPMENT: Celebrating 20 years serving northern Colorado with quality outdoor power tools http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/mac-equipment-celebrating-20-years-serving-northern-colorado-with-quality-outdoor-power-tools-2/ http://athomecolorado.com/2015/07/mac-equipment-celebrating-20-years-serving-northern-colorado-with-quality-outdoor-power-tools-2/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:27:25 +0000 http://athomecolorado.com/?p=6399 LONGMONT – All along the Front Range this weekend, homeowners and DIY landscapers will be starting up their mowers, blowers, tillers and edgers, and getting ready to engage in some hands-on yard cleanup. If they purchased their power tools from a dealer like Mac Equipment in Longmont or Loveland, they can be rest assured that their [...]

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MAC EquipmentLONGMONT – All along the Front Range this weekend, homeowners and DIY landscapers will be starting up their mowers, blowers, tillers and edgers, and getting ready to engage in some hands-on yard cleanup.

If they purchased their power tools from a dealer like Mac Equipment in Longmont or Loveland, they can be rest assured that their equipment is going to be ready for another season of work. That’s the kind of confidence that comes from buying great national brands and relying on knowledgeable, local service.

The four McCrimmon brothers – John, Ronald, Christopher and Clifton – opened their flagship store in Loveland 20 years ago. The idea was to build the company around the values and strong work ethic handed down to them by their father, Ron McCrimmon senior. Now, they are also employing the next generation – their children. It’s a good thing there’s a lot of them, because there’s a lot going on there.

“We carry all the outdoor power tools that homeowners and professionals need: trimmers, blowers, tillers, edgers, chippers, generators from 1,000 to 10,000 watts, walk-behind 21-inch mowers and the big riding models,” says eldest brother, Ron McCrimmon.

You’ll find all of the leading brands you would expect at Mac Equipment including Redmax, Exmark, Walker, Boss Snow Plows, Stihl, Honda, Toro, Echo, Hustler Turf Equipment and Husqvarna. But you won’t find anything that doesn’t meet some pretty high standards. “When we opened this store, we agreed that we would only bring in the kind of products that we ourselves would want to buy,” McCrimmon explains. “We service everything we sell of course, and we repair equipment you bought elsewhere. Our goal is to provide the best customer service.” Factory trained and certified service is available on all major brands of small engines.

Mac Equipment is also your source for hard-to-find arborist and forestry supplies, such as ropes, hand tools, climbing gear and safety equipment from Buckingham, Butterfly, Corona, Felco, Jameson, Marvin, Peavey, Petzl, Portable Winch, Samson, Silky and Yale.

Mac EquipmentWhether you are a professional tree trimming crew, a forester, forest fire fighter or do-it-yourselfer, Mac Equipment has got your back. Clearing land, removing stumps, trimming or pruning trees or cutting, chopping and splitting wood – here are the tools and know-how to help you get the job done.

Good quality equipment deserves high quality service and care, right? The staff at Mac Equipment makes sure that you know how to take care of your new power equipment so it will last for years. “For instance, a lot of homeowners put their snow blowers into storage for next winter,” Ron McCrimmon says, “and we want owners to know how to store and stow their machines so they stay in good shape.”

They will even go so far as to register the warranty information with the manufacturer so that you don’t have to.

Many of the employees have been with Mac Equipment since the start, and they are ready to share their knowledge and advice with you to find the right equipment for your job. “There are eight of us in Longmont and 14 in Loveland, and since we’re family owned and managed, you’ll usually see one of us around,” Ron McCrimmon says.

Mac Equipment serves Longmont, Loveland and Fort Collins
Mac Equipment serves customers Boulder County at their Longmont store at 715 S. Main Street or by calling 720.204.6335. Loveland and Fort Collins customers can visit them at 2115 W. First Street in Loveland or reach them at 970.593.9421. Go to maceq.com for more information.

Mac Equipment sells propane at both locations and can fill propane tanks for everything from barbecues to RVs. You can also buy new propane tanks here, and recycle your old bottles, too.

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