Jul 15 2014

Lender’s Corner: VA-backed Mortgages An Appealing Option For Service Members And Veterans

Mortgage & FinanceYou’ve sacrificed for your country. Now it’s the country’s turn to reward that commitment — and one of those rewards just may be a Veteran’s Administration mortgage. A VA-backed mortgage offers highly competitive interest rates and other perks that regular loans don’t.

To qualify for a VA-backed loan, you must be a service member or veteran. Spouses of service members and veterans, as well as other beneficiaries, are also eligible under certain circumstances. You must have suitable credit, sufficient income, and a valid Certificate of Eligibility from the VA verifying your eligibility to the lender. In addition, the home must be for your personal occupancy.

The guarantee that VA offers to lenders allows them to provide you with more favorable terms, including:

  • No down payment, provided the sales price doesn’t exceed the appraised value.
  • No private mortgage insurance premium requirement.
  • A limit on the amount you can be charged for closing costs.
  • No penalty fee if you pay the loan off early.
  • Possible assistance from the VA if you run into difficulty making payments.

Other pertinent facts:

  • You don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer.
  • You can reuse the benefit.
  • VA-backed loans are assumable, provided the person assuming the loan qualifies.

Home buyers may apply at any approved VA lender, including Megastar Financial Corp.

For more information on this or other lending questions, call or email Sean Mahoney or Cameron Burl mahoney@megastarfinancial.comcburl@magastarfinancial.com303-321-8800.

Megastar Financial Inc.
1080 Cherokee Street, Denver, CO 80204
LMB 100019880 NMLS 244415

Get more tips about financing your home at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate


Jul 12 2014

Scrimp Or Spend? Experts Advise Homeowners On Landscape Projects

Remodeling / Do-It-Yourself ProjectsIf you’ve been thinking of making landscaping improvements to your yard, now is the time to act. In the coming weeks, the searing heat of mid-summer will be dissipating, allowing new plants to flourish while still having time to establish roots before the first frost.

Recently, Better Business Bureau magazine surveyed landscape experts on where homeowners on a limited budget should put their money. Here are their thoughts on where it’s important to splurge, and where you can skimp without compromising your project.

Splurge on these items:

Mulch and soil amendments: Soil amendments are critical to creating a proper growing environment for your plants. They break up Colorado’s notorious clay soil, improving the ability of plants to get nutrients and moisture from the ground. Don’t skimp here. Buy a quality product “that doesn’t contain detrimental fillers like salt,” suggests BBB. As for mulch, a slightly more expensive, quality product will likely be heavier and keep the mulch from blowing away on a windy day.

Decks and patios: Composite or plastic materials may cost more money upfront than wood, but in the long run, you’ll be happy you spent the money, as they require far less maintenance. In addition, while they are usually the most pricey part of your project, they retain their value, so you’ll recoup the cost when it’s time to sell the home.

Irrigation: Again, spending more money initially – on things like underground drip systems, soil sensors and timers — will save you dollars in the long run, as these features help deliver water more efficiently. In addition, don’t skimp on the person installing these features. Find someone with a stellar reputation who will do the work right the first time.

Lighting: High-quality LED lights or photocell systems last longer than cheaper styles. Spend the money here, while paring down the quantity of lighting, if necessary, taking security and safety into consideration before all else.

Landscape designer/contractor: Experienced designers can often purchase supplies at a discount from their contacts; know how to cut costs without compromising the final result; and won’t make mistakes that a rookie might. Pay for a professional located through referrals, and meet with several contractors before making your choice.

Save on these items:

Plant size: Here’s the beauty of plants: They grow. Instead of looking for the largest plants, concentrate on choosing healthy vibrant-looking specimens. “You may lose a few seasons of growth,” says BBB, “but the plant will make up for it in time.” Also, be sure to choose trees, bushes and flowering plants that are suited to Colorado’s climate; otherwise, you’ll spend an inordinate amount of money replacing plants that die out quickly. 

Fountains and other water features: Large water features, says BBB, don’t retain their value, require costly maintenance, can be hard to clean and often waste water. “You don’t need a grandiose waterfall to make an impact on your landscape. Even a small boulder with water cascading into a small pool or prepackaged tabletop fountain, can create a sense of peace.” In addition, if you’re looking to attract birds, they generally prefer smaller, shallower basins.

Get more remodeling and DIY tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://issuu.com/bbbdenver/docs/bbbsummer2014

Jul 08 2014

Burn Calories, Not Fuel: Bike To Work

Green / Sustainability IdeasIs your bike gathering dust in your garage? Why not consider  cleaning it off, pumping up those tires and joining the myriad other bicyclers who are commuting to work these days? You’ll not only help the environment by leaving your car at home, but you’ll improve your health at the same time.

According to The League of American Bicyclists:

  • Bicycle commuting burns an average of 540 calories per hour.
  • The average person loses 13 pounds in the first year of commuting by bike.
  • A daily 4-mile bike commute saves about 66 gallons of fuel a year.
  • Bicycling 20 miles a week reduces women’s risk of heart disease by 50%.
Get more ideas about green and sustainable living at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://bikeleague.org/

Jul 03 2014

7 Tips To Make Homes More Comfortable For Aging Baby Boomers

Buying a HomeIt’s no secret that the baby boomers aren’t babies any longer. Every 10 seconds, according to a recent article in Colorado Urban Home magazine, another baby boomer turns 65.

This has widespread implications for home design, as boomers are notoriously independent-minded and many hope to age in their homes or choose new homes that will minimize obstacles as their physical needs change.

Here are 7 areas in the home that boomers should consider when thinking of re-designing their own house or buying a new home that they can inhabit for the long run:

Home offices: Many boomers continue working past the age of 65. Often, they become consultants or run businesses out of their homes. This means a dedicated home office will be important — or even two, if a wife and husband both plan to work on individual businesses.

Security: With boomers accounting for 80% of all luxury travel spending, home security is a definite issue. Boomers should consider adding remote control lighting and energy management and security features to their homes. This way “they can travel the world and still monitor the security of their home and can control their thermostat from an app on their phone,” notes the magazine.

Lighting and windows:  With aging eyes comes a need for better lighting. Boomers will do best with large windows that let in more natural light. Under-the-counter lighting is also a good idea, both in kitchens and laundry rooms.

Master bathroom: This is always an area of concern, given the risk of slippery floors and tubs. Boomers should consider installing non-slip floor tile. Radiant heat in flooring can also help by eliminating the need for slippery area rugs. Other useful amenities are walk-in tubs, seats in the shower and handrails.

Kitchen: Boomers should look for knobs and handles on cabinets and drawers that allow for an easy grip. Those with back problems might consider raising dishwashers to a higher level. And microwaves installed under cabinets are a good idea for those who don’t have the reach that they used to.

Doors: Door levers are easier to grip than doorknobs. Boomers should consider swapping out knobs for levers, if levers aren’t already in place.

Floors: While giving warmth to a home, carpets also can present tripping hazards. Boomers may want to look for tile or wood floors to reduce such dangers.

Get more tips about buying a home at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.



RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://issuu.com/urbanhome/docs/duh_feb_2014_proof_final

Jul 01 2014

Outdoor Kitchens Cook Up A Growing Trend

Remodeling / Do-It-Yourself Projects

Attention outdoor grillers: If you’re still hovering over an old Weber, struggling to light the coals and running back and forth from your patio to the kitchen to retrieve cooking utensils, you’re living in the past. While you’re rushing around, your neighbors are firing up their outdoor gas grills with the simple flip of a switch, pulling tongs from a nearby drawer and leisurely enjoying a beer from their outside mini-fridge.

Outside kitchens are all the rage, spurred, according to experts, by TV cooking shows, as well as a brighter economy, now that the recession is in the rearview mirror.

If you want to join the trend, Russ Faulk, vice president of design for an outdoor kitchen equipment company, recently offered these design tips in the Denver Post.

Put a roof over the kitchen: This way, you’ll be able to utilize the space should it rain.

Build ample counter space: Just as with an inside kitchen, you’ll need counterspace for plates, food prep, etc. Faulk recommends that homeowners allow at least for 3 feet of counter space in conjunction with the grill: 2 feet on one side and 1 foot on the other side of the grill.

Include adequate lighting: Next to skimpy counter space, this is the most common mistake homeowners make with their outdoor kitchens. Remember: when the sun goes down, you may still be using the area, and unless you like stumbling around looking for a flashlight, lighting is critical.

Consider location: Despite all the outdoor amenities, homeowners may still find themselves running to the indoor kitchen to retrieve items. For this reason, the outdoor kitchen should be located as close to the indoor kitchen as possible.

Employ a similar style to your home: It’s important to retain the architectural style of the home when designing the outdoor kitchen. This way, it won’t look like an add-on, but an integral part of the overall home design.

Evaluate wind direction: Take note of the prevailing wind direction in your yard, then arrange outdoor seating in a spot where visitors won’t be sitting in smoke from the grill. Also, install a vent hood to lessen the smoke output.

Add storage: Tongs, grill brushes, oven mitts…the list of accessory items goes on. Make sure you have a place to put these items when the grilling is over for the day.

Pay attention to flooring: Outdoor cooking produces an unfortunate mixture of grease and rain that can make floors slippery. Choose flooring that is grease-, fire- and stain-resistant. (Faulk suggests unglazed porcelain tile.)

Get more remodeling and DIY tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.


RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/homegarden/ci_25686979/outdoor-kitchens-10-things-you-need-make-yours

Jul 01 2014

Inventory Of Homes For Sale In The Denver Market Shows Small Uptick

denver housing market - Remax of Cherry Creek, denver real estate

June saw a slight rise in the number of houses on the Denver market, a welcome note in a housing market that has been extremely tight over the past several months.

Not that buyers can breathe easy: The uptick was a scant 1% over May.

There were a total of 5,500 homes on the market in the Denver metro area in June, according to statistics recently released by Denver’s Metrolist.  Despite the small rise, this still represents a significant — 58%  — drop in the number of homes on the market from June of 2013.

Condo inventory showed no rise, dropping 6% over last month. There were 1,500 condos on the market in June, a 55% decline from June of 2013.

Prices for houses continue to be affected by the pent-up demand. The average price for a house in the Denver metro area rose 1% over last month, settling in at $383,5000. By contrast, prices for condos dropped 2% over last month, selling for an average of $226,400. These numbers represent a 10% and 14% increase over a year ago, respectively.

Metrolist’s statistics reflect a continuing trend of low inventory and high prices that is creating concern among industry observers.

“A shortage of active listings and homes available is on the minds of everyone – Realtors, home buyers, prospective sellers, loan officers, title insurance companies,” Former Metrolist Director Gary Bauer recently told Inside Real Estate News.

Bauer noted that sky-rocketing prices, while good for sellers, can be a problem if the trend continues.

“We do not want appreciation to go through the roof,” he said. “In the long run, that would adversely impact the market.”

Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic, a company that tracks sales nationwide, agreed.

“Home prices are continuing to climb across most of the country which has both positive and negative implications for the housing market,” he told Inside Real Estate News. “While the rapid rise in prices over the past two years has lifted many homeowners out of negative equity, it has also become a negative factor in buying decisions for prospective purchasers weighing affordability concerns.”

Given the low inventory, houses continue to sell at a rapid pace. Houses in the Denver metro area spent an average of 27 days on the market in June; condos, an average of 24 days. This reflects a faster pace than the already fast-paced sales of May: 10% fewer days on the market for houses and 4% fewer days for condos. 

Stay on top of the Denver housing market at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://insiderealestatenews.com/2014/07/02/denver-home-prices-up-9/

Jun 29 2014

5 Simple Tips For Hanging Curtains

5 Simple Tips For Hanging Curtains  - Remax of Cherry Creek, denver real estateWe all know that hanging curtains isn’t rocket science. So why does the task always seem so daunting? If you’re like us, forever postponing the project for fear of making a mistake, here are some guidelines to simplify things:

Hang ‘em high: For the best aesthetic, you want your windows to appear as large as possible. To give the illusion of height, position the curtain rod a minimum of 4 inches and a maximum of 12 inches above the top of the window, rather than directly above the edge of the window frame.

Go wide:  Aiming, again, for the illusion of size, avoid installing the curtain rod flush with the sides of the window. Instead, extend it at least 3 inches beyond on each side. Not only will it make the windows appear grander, but this method will let in more light.

Open up: When the curtains are open (in other words, gathered together at the sides of the window), each panel should measure 12 inches wide, and only three inches of the panel should overlap into the glass portion of the window.

Use tension: If your living situation prevents you from putting holes in the wall (perhaps you’re landlord doesn’t approve, or the wall is made of plaster wallboard), use a tension rod instead of a curtain rod. While it won’t allow you to extend the appearance of the window, it’s an easy and convenient way to install curtains.

Don’t go all the way: Leave one-half of an inch above the floor curtain-free. This will give you room to clean beneath the curtain, while still creating the illusion of length and luxury.

Get more DIY tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Jun 25 2014

Denver Real Estate Market: High-end Expands, But Inventory Remained Lowest in Nation

Denver Real Estate Market:High-end Expands, But Inventory Remained Lowest in Nation

High-end Market Expands, But Inventory Remained Lowest in Nation - Remax of Cherry Creek, denver real estateAfter last year’s feeding frenzy, inventory in many central Denver neighborhoods became depleted, prompting a citywide seller’s market. Prices rose over the winter to meet demand, with a predicable result — some homeowners who have been waiting to list their homes have finally placed them on the market.

Denver Inventory Expands at the Top, Shrinks at the Middle

However, not all parts of the market have responsed equally. While the high-end Denver real estate market expanded 5.5 percent year over year in May, a lack of inventory persists in middle and lower-end homes. The inventory of middle tier homes, with a median price of $247,000, actually decreased 4.5 percent, and bottom tier homes decreased one percent.

But the Lack of Denver Inventory Overall is Critical

Overall, the Denver real estate market has less than a half month’s supply of inventory, making it the lowest of 52 metropolitan areas tracked by the industry. The lack of homes on the Denver market has intensified dramatically — at the beginning of 2014, for instance, there was a 1.1 month supply of inventory.

Affordable Housing Market Tightens in Nationwide Seller’s Market

Nationwide, there is a 3.8 month supply of available inventory. That may seem generous in comparsion with Denver’s figures, but a six month’s supply is considered an optimal balance between supply and demand in the real estate market.

Like Denver, the whole country saw an expansion of inventory at the upper and middle tier levels. The national average for these markets is higher, 11.8 percent year over year in May. Interestingly, bottom tier inventory also declined nationwide, making it difficult for first-time homebuyers and lower income people to get into the real estate market.

The bottom line: Denver represents an extreme example of what is becoming a national trend. Across the United States, real estate agents have changed their tune. After wondering for years how to get people interested in buying the multiple properties on the market, they now wonder how they can coax homeowners to list that home they have been reluctant to put on the market.

Stay on top of the Denver housing market at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://www.realtor.org/news-releases/2014/06/existing-home-sales-heat-up-in-may-inventory-levels-continue-to-improve#sf3402872

Jun 23 2014

Heated Toilet Seats? Introducing The New Luxury Bathroom

Heated Toilet Seats? Introducing The New Luxury Bathroom - Remax of Cherry Creek, denver real estate

Once upon a time, a bathroom was for taking care of a few personal needs with basic accoutrements: toilet, sink, shower, tub. Any luxury enhancements were left, largely, for other rooms.

Now, you can flush that assumption down the drain.

With new high-tech advancements, you can set the temperature of your shower water from your living room, watch TV on your medicine cabinet and listen to a rock opera coming from your bathtub. And that’s just the beginning of the new ways you can pamper yourself.

While the average homeowner won’t likely be able to afford many of these luxurious touches, it’s still fun to contemplate the possibilities. The Washington Post recently noted some of the latest advancements for those who want more excitement in their daily grooming grind.

When it comes to showers, you can choose showerheads that

direct water flow at you from many angles and in different styles of delivery. “You can create a drizzle, thunderstorm, waterfall, fountain or body spray,” noted one homeowner, who recently installed an elaborate system in his shower.

New innovations also allow you to create steam, hear music coming from a speaker fitted into the showerhead, change the color of the ceiling light to match your mood. (Feeling calm? Choose blue and violet. Need to get pumped up for the day? Pick yellow or red.)  And with a panel system that connects to your smartphone, you can set many of these functions remotely, so that the shower ambiance is walk-in ready when you are.

Bathtubs, likewise, come with lavish enhancements. These include music that streams from hidden speakers and chromotherapy lights that change the appearance of the water color.

As for the toilet, there’s no need to sit down on cold porcelain anymore. You can enjoy a heated seat — not to mention a lighted bowl that doubles as a nightlight and a built-in deodorizing system.

And if you find yourself feeling bored during your grooming process, just flip on the latest episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones. TVs are another new presence in the bathroom, with screens set into the mirrors of medicine cabinets.

In sum, the lavatory landscape is bursting with new options. Of course, the cost can be as bracing as an ice-cold shower. “Today, showers are so advanced they (can carry) the price of an expensive German car,” says one store owner.

Hey, luxury never did come cheap.

Get more home and lifestyle tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate

Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/realestate/more-homeowners-giving-bathrooms-getting-a-21st-century-update/2014/02/27/e0ca0630-89ff-11e3-833c-33098f9e5267_story.html

Jun 22 2014

The Pros And Cons Of Popping The Top On Your Home

The Pros And Cons Of Popping The Top On Your Home  - Remax of Cherry Creek, denver real estate

It’s a scenario we see over and over: A couple moves into a bungalow in the city. There’s plenty of room – until the children come along. Suddenly the space is as overstuffed and chaotic as a car full of clowns at the circus. The question quickly arises: Do we move to a bigger house or pop the top on our current home?

There are no easy answers to this question, but plenty of considerations to think through. Here are a few pros and cons:


If you stay where you are, you can:

  • Keep the same neighbors, neighborhood and schools. This is a big plus, provided you are happy with the area and your children are thriving in school.
  • Get the exact design you want: You will be starting from scratch in many ways and can choose all facets of the new design, whereas finding a bigger existing home will always involve compromises.
  • Possibly get more for your money: Many times, popping the top will improve the home beyond what you could afford in the same neighborhood.  For example, if you live in a $400,000 home and put on a $300,000 addition, you can create a two-story home with 4-5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and a 2-car garage. Many of those homes don’t exist in some city neighborhoods, and if they do, they are likely to cost more than $700,000. If you choose other city neighborhoods that seem to offer more affordable larger homes, such as Lowry or Stapleton, you will find that taxes, insurance and HOA fees often raise the price outside of that range as well.


If you stay where you are, you will:

  • Have the inconvenience of being uprooted while the renovations are in progress; typically, this can be up to one year. You will also incur the expenses of living somewhere else, while still paying the mortgage on the house you’re renovating.
  • Deal with contractors, who are notorious for coming in late and over budget on a project.
  • Likely incur the expense and stress of obtaining a new loan to cover the construction costs. Such loans can be difficult to obtain, as lenders closely scrutinize the project and your ability to repay the loan on top of the existing mortgage.
  • Spend an inordinate amount of time making decisions, large and small — everything from style of light fixtures and kitchen cabinets to outlet coverings and paint finish. While some people thrive with this type of challenge, others find it worrisome and exhausting.

Get more DIY tips at RE/MAX of Cherry Creek’s blog.

 RE/MAX of Cherry Creek
Denver real estate