Protecting your home’s air quality

Pollution

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Most of us tend to think of air pollution as something that occurs outdoors where car exhaust and factory fumes proliferate, but there’s such a thing as indoor air pollution, too. Since the 1950s, the number of synthetic chemicals used in home products have increased drastically, while homes have become much tighter and better insulated. As a result, the EPA estimates that Americans, on average, spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations. 

Luckily, there are many ways to reduce indoor air pollution. We all know that buying organic and natural home materials and cleaning supplies can improve the air quality in our homes, but there are several other measures you can take as well. 

 

How pollutants get into our homes 

Potentially toxic ingredients are found in many materials throughout the home, and they leach out into the air as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. If you open a can of paint, you can probably smell those VOCs. Mold is a VOC that can build up in the dampest parts of your home like the laundry room or crawl spaces. Another example is the “new car smell” that seems to dissipate after a while, but VOCs can “off-gas” for a long time, even after a noticeable smell is gone. 

Many materials used to build a home contain chemicals like formaldehydetoluene, xylene, ethanol, and acetone, and even lead. VOCs can also be in the form of pet dander or dust. Fortunately, VOCs from building materials dissipate over time. For that reason, the highest levels of VOCs are usually found in new homes or remodels. If you are concerned about VOCs, there are several products you can buy that are either low- or no-VOC. You can also have your home professionally tested. 

 

How to reduce VOCs in your home 

Choose your building materials wisely  

  • – Use tile or solid wood for flooring—hardwood, bamboo, or cork
  • – Choose solid wood or outdoor-quality plywood that uses a less toxic form of formaldehyde. 
  • – Choose low-VOC or VOC-free paints and finishes 

Purify the air  

  • – Make sure your rooms have adequate ventilation, air out newly renovated areas for at least a week 
  • – Clean ductwork and furnace filters regularly 
  • – Install air cleaners if needed 
  • – Use only environmentally responsible cleaning chemicals 
  • – Plants are a natural solution to help clean the air 
  • – Air out freshly dry-cleaned clothes or choose a “green” cleaner 

Pick the right carpet 

  • – Choose “Green Label” carpeting or a natural fiber such as wool or sisal
  • – Use nails instead of glue to secure carpet 
  • – Install carpet LAST after completing painting projects or wall coverings
  • – Air out newly carpeted areas before using  
  • – Use a HEPA vacuum or a central vac system that vents outdoors
  •  

Prevent mold  

  • – Clean up water leaks fast 
  • – Keep humidity below 60 percent, using dehumidifiers if necessary 
  • – Refrain from carpeting rooms that stay damp 
  • – Insulate pipes, crawl spaces, and windows to eliminate condensation 
  • – Use one-half cup of bleach per gallon of water to kill mold in its early stages 

If you would like to learn more about VOCs and indoor air quality, please visit http://www.epa.gov/iaq/ 

Posted on October 21, 2020 at 1:40 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest NoCO Real Estate Stats

Wooden Bridge Through Autumn Woods

We just completed a review of the September numbers in our market.

Here is the one number that is standing out to us – average price.

Prices are way up over last year.  Here are the specific average price increases in each of our markets compared to September 2019:

  • Metro Denver = 13.2%
  • Larimer County = 16.9%
  • Weld County = 7.4%

This change in prices has of course generated questions from our clients.

To help our clients answer questions about prices and other real estate topics, we have set up a private online event with our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.

The event is set for Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:00.

Here is the registration link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6400354351666419467

Matthew will be addressing these questions as well as many others:

  • What effect will the election have on the economy and on real estate?
  • How long can interest rates stay this low?
  • Can prices keep appreciating at their current pace?

This online event is for the clients and friends of Windermere.  If you would like more information feel free to reach out!

Posted on October 6, 2020 at 3:13 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How to Improve your Curb Appeal!

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When it comes time to sell your home, first impressions are crucial. Improving your curb appeal helps to make the most of a buyer’s first glance and sets the stage for their interest in purchasing your home. The following projects are simple and inexpensive ways to enhance both your home’s first impression and its value.

 

Landscaping

 

  • Lawn: A healthy, well-tended lawn goes a long way towards improving your curb appeal. Clean up all weeds, leaves and debris, and consistently water your lawn to give it that fresh green look. If you live in an arid climate, consider grass alternatives like artificial turf for the best lawn aesthetic.
  • Plant colorfully: Adding color variety to your front yard will grab buyers’ attention. Align smaller plants, like groundcover and flowers, neatly within your flower beds, aiming for symmetry when possible. Use larger plants and trees to frame in your entryway or walkup. If your front yard doesn’t have flower beds, try adding hanging planters or window boxes.
  • Lighting: Landscaping lighting boosts your curb appeal during nighttime, accentuates your shrubbery, and adds a welcoming touch for visitors as potential buyers, lighting the way to your door.

 

Image Source: Canva

 

Porch

Front porches set the stage for all your home has to offer. Improvements here will play a significant role in how comfortable potential buyers feel about the property and how inspired they are to explore the inside of the house.

 

  • Door: Your front door is an opportunity to make a tasteful statement. Look at bold color choices that are within or slightly stretch your home’s exterior color palette. Take time to prepare the surface for a fresh coat of paint to make the color pop as much as possible. Try stylish doorknob options that accentuate the aesthetic to give your door some added flair.
  • House numbers: New and stylish house numbers are an easy, eye-catching touch to the look of your porch. Look for styles that match with your exterior color palette and any exterior lighting fixtures.
  • Go for comfort: Incorporating classic front porch elements like a porch swing, sitting bench, and other outdoor furniture gives a welcoming aura to the front of your home and creates a sense of comfort for prospective buyers.
  • Shutters: Windows are the gateway to the inside of your home. Shutters of delicate fabric will bring elegance to your front porch, while wooden shutters deliver a solid, cozy vibe.

 

Other

These miscellaneous projects will add the finishing touches to your home’s curb appeal and get it in prime selling condition.

 

  • Quick maintenance: Small chores and minor fixes like cleaning gutters, repairing chipped paint, and cleaning windows are important for buyers with a detailed eye.
  • Staining: Instead of replacing fences or garage doors, look into applying a fresh stain. This brings a refreshed look and is much cheaper than a full renovation or replacement.
  • Power wash: Power washing your walkways and driveways makes a significant difference in curb appeal. If buying a power washer is outside your budget, explore rental options from the big-name hardware stores.

If you have particular questions about your property feel free to ask me what you can do to improve your home’s value and curb appeal. I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned.

Posted on September 29, 2020 at 3:10 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Home Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Buying a Fixer-Upper

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For some home buyers, a fixer-upper is their idea of a dream home. Preparing for the process comes down to creating a plan, knowing what to look for, and understanding what financing options are available.

 

Create a plan 

Fixer-uppers require a future-oriented mindset. Knowing the magnitude of the project you and your household are willing to take on will help dictate your budget and expectations as time goes on. Understand that in addition to the down payment and closing fees, the costs inherent in a fixer-upper purchase have the potential to go over-budget easily. Familiarize yourself with permitting in your area to understand how to navigate any legal roadblocks in the renovation process.

 

What to look for 

Location: Whether you are purchasing a fixer-upper with plans to sell it, rent it out, or live in it, consider its location before purchasing. If you’re planning on selling or renting, location is one of the most important factors to making a return on your investment. And if you’re planning to live in your fixer-upper, keep in mind that location will be a large part of your experience in the home.

Scope of renovation: If you are looking for a smaller scale renovation, look for fixer-uppers that require cosmetic projects like new interior and exterior paint, fresh carpeting and flooring, appliance upgrades, and basic landscaping maintenance. More expensive and involved projects include reroofing, replacing plumbing and sewer lines, replacing HVAC systems, and full-scale room remodels.

Inspections: Beyond a standard home inspection, which covers components of the home like its plumbing and foundation, consider specialized inspections for pests, roof certifications, and engineering reports. This will help differentiate between the property’s minor flaws and critical problems, further informing your decision when it comes time to prepare an offer.

 

Financing options

Renovation loans allow buyers to finance the home and the improvements to the home together. Extra consultations, inspections, and appraisals are often required in the loan process, but they help guide the work—and thereby, added value—of your fixer-upper. Talk with your lender about which option is best for you.

 

  • FHA 203(k): The Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) 203(k) loans can be used for most projects in the process of fixing up a home. In comparison to conventional mortgages, they accept lower incomes and credit scores.
  • VA renovation loan: With this loan, the cost of the improvement projects is combined into the loan amount for the home purchase. Contractors employed in any renovations must be VA-approved, and a construction fee may be charged by the lender.
  • HomeStyle Loan – Fannie Mae: The HomeStyle Renovation Loan can be used by home buyers purchasing a fixer-upper, or by homeowners refinancing their homes to cover the improvements. Funds are distributed directly to contractors via a separate escrow account. This loan also allows for luxury projects, such as pools and landscaping.
  • CHOICERenovation Loan – Freddie Mac: This renovation mortgage is guaranteed by Freddie Mac, allowing projects that bolster a home’s ability to withstand natural disasters.
If you’re interested in buying a fixer upper, just let me know and I’ll be happy to help you understand the process and discuss what makes the most sense for you.
Posted on September 29, 2020 at 3:04 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Investors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Consumer Confidence in Housing Survey

This week Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, dives into the most recent National Housing Survey results which tell us a lot about consumer confidence both pre- and post-COVID and whether or not they feel this is a good time to buy or sell a home. The results might surprise you.

Posted on July 22, 2020 at 6:58 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Economic, Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

How has the housing market faired through Covid-19?

On this week’s episode Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, analyzes several aspects of the housing market to see how it has fared over the past 16 weeks amid COVID-19.

Posted on July 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Economic, Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

More Homes Needed to Balance Market

iStock-177709534.jpg

Compared to exactly one year ago, the supply of homes is down:

  • 32.6% in Metro Denver
  • 25.1% in Northern Colorado

An interesting and useful measurement we track is months of inventory.  This stat tells how long it would take to sell all of the homes currently for sale at the current pace of sales.

Of course, months of supply can vary greatly by price range and location.  However, this stat does a good job of explaining the overall state of the market.

Specifically, months of supply tells us if the market is in balance.

A ‘balanced’ market is when there is 4 to 6 months of supply.  A buyers market occurs when the stat is higher than this range.  A sellers market occurs when it is lower.

The months of supply looks like this in our market:

  • 1.0 months in Metro Denver
  • 1.3 months in Northern Colorado

What this means is our markets are significantly under-supplied and more homes are needed to meet demand. With that being the case you can expect that overall property values will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.

Posted on July 10, 2020 at 8:05 pm
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chief Economist discusses housing affordability

Matthew Gardner discusses housing affordability and how he believes that despite the impact of COVID-19, affordability issues will remain and may actually get worse as we move forward.

 

 

Posted on July 9, 2020 at 3:48 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Economic, Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Chief Economist’s Housing & Economic Update

On this week’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew”, Matthew Gardner discusses what is needed to motivate more Millennials to buy and the important role they play in the long-term health of the US housing market.

Posted on July 9, 2020 at 3:41 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Economic, Market Data | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Home Sellers Checklist to Stay Safe while Selling your Home

 

Staying organized while uprooting your life and moving from one home to another can feel impossible. Not only are you trying to get the best financial return on your investment, but you might also be working on a tight deadline. There’s also the pressure to keep your home clean and organized at all times for prospective buyers. However, one thing you can be sure of when selling your home is that there will be strangers entering your space, so it’s important for you and your agent to take certain safety precautions. Like so many things in life, they can feel more manageable once written down, so we made this handy checklist.

 

  • Go through your medicine cabinets and remove all prescription medications.
  • Remove or lock up precious belongings and personal information. You will want to store your jewelry, family heirlooms, and personal/financial information in a secure location to keep them from getting misplaced or stolen.
  • Remove family photos. We recommend removing your family photos during the staging process so potential buyers can see themselves living in the home. It’s also a good way to protect your privacy.
  • Check your windows and doors for secure closings before and after showings. If someone is looking to get back into your home following a showing or an open house, they will look for weak locks or they might unlock a window or door.
  • Consider extra security measures such as an alarm system or other monitoring tools like cameras.
  • Don’t show your own home! If someone you don’t know walks up to your home asking for a showing, don’t let them in. You want to have an agent present to show your home at all times. Agents should have screening precautions to keep you and them safe from potential danger.

 

Talk to your agent about the following safety precautions: 

  • Do a walk-through with your agent to make sure you have identified everything that needs to be removed or secured, such as medications, belongings, and photos.
  • Go over your agent’s screening process:
    • Phone screening prior to showing the home
    • Process for identifying and qualifying buyers for showings
    • Their personal safety during showings and open houses
  • Lockboxes to secure your keys for showings should be up to date. Electronic lockboxes actually track who has had access to your home.
  • Work with your agent on an open house checklist:
    • Do they collect contact information of everyone entering the home?
    • Do they work with a partner to ensure their personal safety?
  • Go through your home’s entrances and exits and share important household information so your agent can advise how to secure your property while it’s on the market.
Posted on June 3, 2020 at 8:22 am
Brandon Bidwell | Category: Sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,