Friday, October 15, 2010

Leadership In Action: Belle Creek's Henderson Hawks Football

On a run in the late summer, I noticed something new in Belle Creek.  A football team!  Boys of many different ages groups were gathered with their coach, running plays, doing pushups, and learning the fundamentals.
Soon after, when the Belle Creek Playground was being installed, neighbors volunteered their hours to help with the installation.  Namely, spreading 2 semis'-worth of mulch under the newly installed equipment.  Shortly after I got there, I noticed something impressive.  The football team and their coach were leading the efforts!

Henderson Hawks Get the Fundamentals

I soon found out that these were the Henderson Hawks, lead by Chad Weinand (Coach Chad).  I spoke with the coach to find out more about the team, the league, and what makes the Colorado Youth Football Association special:
How did you get started coaching the Henderson Hawks?
I decided to start a new competitive youth football league out here in Colorado.  One that did not have the restrictive rules that most recreational leagues have that ultimately restrict a coaches ability to properly develop kids.  As I started with the league, I felt there was a need in the Belle Creek and surrounding areas and decided to make my home team within the league the Henderson Hawks.
Tell me a little bit about your football background.
Not a whole lot to tell, I have been coaching youth sports since I was thirteen years old, only played one year of high school football, but I have always been a student of the game.  I completed a coaching minor while in college and played two years of football while in the Air Force.
Since moving to Denver in 1994, I have been very active in coaching a variety of youth sports and last year was on the coaching staff at Thornton High School.  This winter I was approached by the AAU, the Amatuer Athlete Union, and asked if I was interested in becoming the state director of football.  I accepted the position with the first order of business being to launch a competitive football league.  I also have recently accepted a recruiting and assistant coach position at Cole College, which will be launching its athletic programs fall semester of 2011.
What age groups are your teams’ members?
Our teams are broken up into 4 divisions, 14 and under, 12 and under, 10 and under and 8 and under.  Our programs number one goal is to develop athletes, I feel that our program is set to do just that over the long haul.
Tell me a little bit about your training schedule and expectations you have of your players (I understand you have a community service requirement for each kid?)
We practice three times per week, I would love to do more but, families have more going on than just youth football.  As our program grows and matures we will always look at and consider a more committed practice schedule.  We are a 12 month program, meaning that our season is just step one.  As we go into the spring we will look at playing in a spring league, spring and summer tournaments that are available, and will be putting on free skill camps for our athletes.
Our program is set up to teach kids the skills to become successful student athletes.  To accomplish this kids are required to balance an academic and social responsibility with their athletic responsibilities.  We require our kids to turn in progress reports and each team is required to do 100 hours of community service per year.
On top of that we also have a track and field program called R.E.A.L. Training that runs a full indoor and outdoor season as well for all age groups.  That program focuses on teaching Responsibility, Education, Athletics and Leadership.  Anyone in the community interested in that can call Coach Mo at 303-324-8301.
What is the biggest challenge facing players in that age group?
Every age group is different, this year our biggest challenge is just building the foundation as we move forward with this program.  Making sure that kids first develop a love of the game, then teaching kids how to compete, how to set goals and how to work to achieve those goals.
Kids have it pretty easy in today’s world and it has created an environment that doesn’t teach healthy competition.  Mainly because society doesn’t want a kid to feel like he failed or lost.  I think it is ok to fail, our kids should feel the same, because without failure and adversity how can they ever experience the thrill of victory and achievement.  I think that is the biggest challenge, just getting the kids to compete.
This is your first year in Henderson.  What kind of response have you seen from the community and the players and their families?  Will you be back again next year?
I think the Belle Creek and Henderson communities are one of the best kept secrets in the metro area.  I thank everyone for their

Belle Creek's Henderson Hawks- A Good Practice!

support and we will absolutely be back next year, bigger and more organized than this year.  This is something I plan on doing even when my kids are no longer in the program.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fall and Winter Events in Belle Creek!

As I sit here in my office overlooking Belle Creek's expansive central park, the rain is whipping at my window in gusts.  Lighting is flashing with thunder not far behind, and my dog has positioned herself under my desk, atop my feet.
It reminds me that Fall is here and Winter is on the way!
Upcoming Events for Fall and Winter
It’s one of my favorite times of year in Belle Creek.  Starting in October, there are so many fun things to do with the whole family!

Boo on You!

The Halloween Parade will start at 1pm on October 31st.  Bring your goblins and ghouls to the Belle Creek Central Park to trick or treat around the square.  Local witches and warlocks will be opening their enchanted chariots to distribute and abundance of tricks and treats!  (Volunteer to pass out treats from your vehicle at the Family Center by contacting Shannon Wester 303.289.3584
A Belle Creek Holiday Tradition! Join your neighbors and gather your friends at the Family Center December 11 at 6:30pm.  There will be horse-drawn carriage rides touring the neighborhood holiday displays and activities and treats for all.

A Holiday Tradition

What’s more, Santa will be taking time off from his busy schedule to say hello and listen to your holiday wish list!
Put on the hot chocolate.  Soon this rain will become snow!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Visit to Pete's Produce- Locally Grown!

One of the great things about living in Henderson is that there are so many local farms nearby.  Did you know that when King Sooper's and Safeway advertise "locally grown" produce, some of it comes from right here in Brighton?  It's true!
Pete Palombo's was hopping today and the chilis were being roasted in front of my eyes.  Have you ever smelled the aroma of chilis roasting?

The Smoky Aroma of Chilis Being Roasted Fills the Air

It is smoky and the chilis pop and crackle as the flames lick at their bursting skins.  People line up to wait while the chilis they have just purchased are fired before their eyes.

Pete Palombo's Market in Brighton

There are bushels are melons, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and wagon loads of sweet corn  This is produce at its freshest- many times having been picked that very morning.
I was feeling like the cat that swallowed the canary-melon as I walked away from the stand with my arms full of melons and vegetables.  I picked up a huge spaghetti squash, half a dozen ears of corn, 3 melons, some pears and a few red bell peppers for about $14.  All were grown in Colorado, and most were grown right in Brighton.

Bushels of Goodness

If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.
Palombo's market is located just off Highway 85, north of 136th, on the west side of the road.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Belle Creek to Break Ground on Playground Wednesday!

Excavation on the Belle Creek playground will start this Wednesday.  The excavation of the site and installation of the playground is projected to take 2 weeks.  With that in mind, we are planning on doing a mulching day on August 7th starting at 8 a.m.  Please let me know if you will be able to help out.  With enough help, it should only take us a couple of hours to complete the project.  I also hope to have enough volunteers to plant two trees on that that day for shade behind the benches.  We will need wheelbarrows, rakes and shovels.  It would also be good for workers to wear gloves.  

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Improve Your Home's Indoor Air Quality

VOCs are present in dry cleaningAn EPA study shows that close to dozen common air pollutants are 2 to 5 times more concentrated indoors versus outdoors, regardless of whether the home is is located in Rural America, or in an industrial zone.
The cause is volatile organic compounds, more commonly known as VOCs.
VOCs are gases emitted from certain liquids and solids including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, air fresheners and permanent markers, among others. In the short-term, can cause respiratory irritation. In the long-term, VOCs can lead to "Sick Building Syndrome", cancer and other illnesses.
There are a number of ways to keep VOC levels in your Belle Creek home to minimum and the EPA published some tips to help with home health safety. The advice includes:
  1. Meet or exceed all product label precautions
  2. When buying paints and chemicals, don't buy bulk. Buy only what you need. Dispose of the rest.
  3. If a product label says "use in well-ventilated area", move to the outdoors or use a fan
VOC levels can remain elevated for long periods of time even after the VOC-generating activity is completed.  Therefore, take care to protect your home and your health.
Read the EPA's complete guide to volatile organic compounds on its website.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Oakwood Homes Opens in Belle Creek

Oakwood Homes is Excited to Be Part of Belle Creek – The Perfect Place to Call Home!

Henderson, CO---Oakwood Homes, Colorado’s largest privately held hometown builder, celebrates its grand opening at Belle Creek this Sunday.  Once you visit Belle Creek, you won’t want to leave.  Community gardens, retail shops, school and open parks are right outside your doorstep.  Yet- the hustle and bustle of Downtown Denver is just minutes away.  The Belle Creek collection showcases 6 floorplans including delightful front porches, spacious kitchens and dynamic master baths.  These classic architectural designs offer up to five bedrooms, three baths and two-car garages on both the four alley load plans and two front load plans with pre-model pricing from $179,500 to the $218,600 with up to approximately 2,100 square feet. 

Visit Oakwood’s Belle Creek sales office Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm and Mondays from Noon to 6 pm to experience The Perfect Place to Call Home!  For more information or to schedule a community tour, contact Dwayne Montoya at 303.486.8728, or visit Oakwood Homes online at 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good News For Sellers : Housing Starts Fall To 1-Year Low In May 2010

Housing starts June 2008 - May 2010Single-family housing starts plummeted to a one-year low in May, just 30 days after soaring to a 20-month high.  It's no wonder home builders are confused.
Against a revised April figure, Housing Starts fell 97,000 units in May, a figure representing almost one-fifth of the total market size.
It's the worst showing for Housing Starts since May 2009, a surprise to builders and economists alike.
Furthermore, single-family Building Permits plunged in May, too -- down 10 percent from April. A permit is a certification from local government that authorizes home construction.
Housing permits are a precursor to Housing Starts with 82% of homes starting construction within 60 days of permit-issuance. Fewer permits, therefore, directly reduces the number of new homes coming to market in the coming months.
For home buyers in Henderson , this should create a sense of urgency.
Home prices are based on supply and demand and supply appears to be falling about the same time that economists predict a surge in home demand.  It could spell rising home prices and a complete loss of negotiation power with home sellers.
For now, though, home affordability remains high with properties cheap and mortgage rates near all-time lows. If you plan to buy a home later this year, the May 2010 Housing Starts data may be a reason to move up your timeframe a bit.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Uncharted Territory- the End of the Tax Credit

The end of April marked an historic event.

Think about it.  Never before in American history has there been a homebuyers' tax credit.  On April 30th, it expired.
We are in uncharted territory

If you were planning on buying your first home, or even replacing the home that you had lived in for 5 of the last 8 years, you would get FREE money from the government if you were under contract by the last day of April.  That contract would have to close by the end of this month to qualify for the tax credit.

So, what impact will this have on our market?  No one actually knows.  The first deadline for the credit was scheduled for the end of November, 2009.  Eager first time homebuyers rushed to the closing table to make the November 30 deadline- in spite of the holiday weekend that bumped right into the deadline.

This time, however, the impact seemed slightly less notable.  Many houses went under contract well before the April 30 deadline, and closings were spread out over April, May and June.  There is speculation that some home sales were "borrowed" from the coming months because of the tax credit, and this certainly has some merit.  

Meanwhile, showings of for sale properties dropped.  If you are trying to sell a home, you have seen this effect.  It's time to sit tight and have patience.  

As I said, we are in uncharted territory.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Events In Belle Creek

Get Ready for Summer Fun!

There are a lot of great things happening in Belle Creek this summer.  Starting next weekend, there are plenty of great family activities to keep us all smiling:

June 5:  Community Garage Sale and Community Fair
Got Stuff?  Need Stuff?   Saturday, June 5 is the Annual Community wide garage sale.  Set up your sale in your garage, alley, or front porch- or rent a space on the central park.  Contact the Belle Creek Family Center to rent a spot.
Also at this time will be the Belle Creek Vendor Faire in the Family Center Gym.  Pick up a gift for someone special- or yourself!
The Neighbors to Neighbors group will be selling cold water and manning the jumpy castle at the central park.

There will be 3 Block Parties  this summer, sponsored by Neighbors to Neighbors of  Belle Creek.  The first will be at the pocket park at Dayton Way and 106th, on the south side of the neighborhood.  ALL are invited to attend.  More details will come soon.

Look for more events here, including National Night Out (August 3), Block Parties, Belle Creek Movie Nights, and other community events)

Monday, May 24, 2010

First Belle Creek Movie Night- Finally!

What a great night for a movie!
Friday was calm and the weather was perfect to sit in a sleeping bag and enjoy "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs".  Belle Creek Movie Nights are back after a non- start.  The original launch of May 14 was rained out in a big way, but now we know it's summer in Belle Creek.
The next movie is "Tarzan" on June 11, starting at around 8:28 (sundown).
See you at the movies!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Movie Nights in Belle Creek Start this Friday!!

May 14th
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Starts at approximately 8:07pm (dusk)

Our long awaited family fun nights return!  Bring extra blankets and get comfy.  It's gonna be a blast!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

How Many Showings Does it Take?

When selling your home, one of the "moving targets" is the number of showings to expect.  Not surprisingly, the number of showings goes down during the holidays and during cold winter months when the weather is unpredictable.  But different price points will also experience different levels of activity.
Following is a breakdown by price level of home many showings per month we experienced in the Denver Metro market for the first quarter of 2010:

  • Overall, the number of showings per month for all price categories was 8.7 per home.
  • Homes under $250,000 saw an average of 10.5 showings per month, with the $50k-100k range seeing the highest number of showings per month at 15.
  • Homes from $250k-300k saw an average of 7.4 showings per month.  Homes from $350k-400k were at 3.7 showings per month.
  • Homes in the higher price ranges, from $400,000 up, saw an average of 4.8 showings per month.
The good news for those selling homes in the $250k-400k price range is that the number of showings increased year over year: from 4.7 in 2009 to 6.1 for 2010.  Homes above that range increased from 3.4 to 4.8.  Homes priced in the lower ranges held steady at 10.5 showings per month.
Buyers are getting back out there, which is good news for all homeowners.  With renewed interest and activity in residential real estate, we will see a ripple effect throughout the economy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I Thought You Said That House Was Under Contract?

What Does “Under Contract” Mean?  What Comes Next?
Recently, I was driving through our neighborhood with a buyer.  He was very interested in a property a few months ago, and had been considering making an offer.  When I called the listing agent to let her know of our intent, she told me it had just gone “under contract” and was no longer available.  When we drove past this property last week, the sign was still in the front yard.  “I thought you said that home wasn’t available?” he asked.  And it’s not.  It is still “under contract”.
  How properties go Under Contract, and what happens next. 
When a buyer finds the right home, he or she makes an offer.  This is presented on the Colorado Contract to Buy and Sell.  It is a detailed contract with a schedule of dates, room for contingencies, attachments, concessions, offer price, financing arrangements and appraisal requirements, among other things.  It is 12 pages long, and is designed to protect both buyer and seller during what is often the largest sales transaction private parties ever make.
When buyers purchase a home, they want the assurance that they have thoroughly researched their purchase before the sale is final, and that no other buyer can purchase the property out from under them during this time.  If the buyer and seller can agree on the initial terms, both parties will sign a binding contract that allows the buyer to do this research.  The property is then “under contract”.  This period usually lasts from 30-60 days.  A short sale listing can take longer- sometimes several months.
The buyer is then responsible for doing this research, and there is a time limit and an Earnest Money deposit submitted so that the seller is protected.  
These steps include applying for a loan, having a certified inspection of the property, obtaining title and title insurance, obtaining property insurance, reviewing any HOA documents, reviewing Improvement Location Certificates or surveys of property boundaries and making sure the property appraises.
The For Sale sign remains in place during this process because the sale is not yet completed.  Often times, the Realtor will place an “under contract” banner on the sign.  The idea is that it “ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” so the sign remains in place until funds have been transferred and keys are passed to the buyers.

Movie Nights in Belle Creek!

Hard to believe that summer is around the corner.  The flowers are finally starting to bloom, and the trees are leafing out.  Finally- that was one harsh winter!
With late spring comes the return of Movie Night in Belle Creek!  I can hardly wait- we've got some great ones this year:
May 14th
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Starts at approximately 8:07pm (dusk)

June 11th
Tarzan.  Start: approx 8:28pm

July 9th
Bolt.  Start: approx 8:30pm

August 13th
Monsters vs. Aliens.  Start: approx 7:59pm

September 10th 
Grease.  Start: approx 7:16pm

All movies will be screened on the multipurpose field on the south side of the Family Center (the Soccer Field).  See you at the movies!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Great Rainy Day Activities- Perfect for Today!!

I read a very timely article today about things to do on a rainy day.  Enjoy!  And let me know how it went: 

Rainy Day Kid Tips
This season brings with it its share of rainy days. And while you and other homeowners may not be able to work on your yards, clean out gutters, or install that new walkway, a stormy day can be a perfect time to settle in to enjoy family and the home you've put so much effort in to. Here are ten great stay-at-home activities for you to try with your crew.
1. Plan a Scavenger Hunt. Hide a prize, such as a movie to watch or a treat to eat, in the final location, and then leave a succession of clues and riddles around your home for the kids to investigate and follow.
Read more great Rainy Day ideas... and have a GREAT rain day!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

New Playground Proposed for Belle Creek

Belle Creek Family Center
Bringing the Community Together
Initial Plans for New Playground Proceeding with Enthusiasm
The Playground Committee met last week and made great strides in choosing a location for Belle Creek’s new playground equipment.  The proposed site is the pocket park on Dayton Way, between 108th Drive and 109th Avenue.  All pocket parks were initially considered as possible sites, as well as the Belle Creek central park.  Each area was considered based on size, drainage, and whether there would be proper setback from a road.  Some sites were excluded based on these criteria alone.
Subcommittees were then formed to poll the surrounding neighbors to determine whether this new amenity was agreeable to all those immediately adjacent to the green spaces.  Once all the polling was completed, the subcommittees met to vote on a final location to present to the Metro District.  The location on the northeast side won hands down- by a 3 to 1 ratio.
Funds for the $100,000 project are being donated by the City of Commerce City Parks and Recreation Department.  These funds come from lottery dollars that are earmarked specifically for this project, to be used for a playground, which includes site preparation, irrigation, and playground equipment.
Once the Metro District approves the site, the committee will come together to select equipment.  The Playground Committee foresees the playground opening by early summer 2010!
This is great news for Belle Creek residents and will make further improvements of this sort proceed even more smoothly.  Having gone through the process once already, future committees will have a system in place to follow for other projects.  Other great ideas from the committee included a pavilion or gazebo and grills.  These ideas will be explored at a later date.
See you at the playground!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coming Soon! 10813 Belle Creek Boulevard

You are not going to believe how beautiful this home is!
3 spacious bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms in this 1763 square foot home.
472 sqft finished basement.
Top notch designer finishes everywhere- Wow!
Join me Saturday, April 17 from 11am - 2 pm to see this spotless beauty.
Check out the pictures:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Inspired! Appealing Property Taxes to Lower Them, Steps 1 and 2

Yesterday, I read an article on msnbc entitled "High Property Taxes? 4 steps to lowering them."
If you have lived in Belle Creek for long, you no doubt have watched our sales values take a hit, while our property taxes stay high.  I am a serious proponent of supporting public schools and having good roads, and taking care of our parks.  I am also a pretty big supporter of not paying too much for property taxes.
When we got our tax bill this year, I stared at the nearly $4,000 and swallowed the bile rising in my throat. Good lord, isn't there something we can do about this?
Turns out there is.
Step 1: Track Down the Paperwork.  
This is where I am in the process.  I called the Adams County Assessor's office (303-654-6038) this morning after trying to find the form on their website.  A very nice and knowledgeable employee told me that Notices of Valuation were sent May 2009, and they are only sent every other year.  On the back of this notice is the form for appealing your property taxes.
Unfortunately, I am not as organized as I would like to be, and I have no idea where I put that form.  When it comes to business, I can lay my hands on paperwork at a moment's notice, but when it comes to personal stuff...
He must not have been working in county government for long, because he laughed and told me he would send out another copy right away.
Step 2: Understand the Process
Although there is a form on the back of the valuation notice, you do not need it to appeal your tax value. You must submit a written protest, but it can be done by mail, fax or in person.  This must be done before June 1.  If you submit it in person, you can sit with the county appraiser and discuss where the value comes from and plead your case.
Be sure to bring as much evidence as you can.  If you have a recent appraisal, this will help.  Also, bringing a list of recent sold comparable properties in your neighborhood will help.
I have only gotten this far in the process myself, so I will report what happens as it happens.  Wish me luck...

If you would like assistance in appealing your property taxes and need recent solds in  your area, please email me or call me at 720-341-5235.  This is a FREE service that I am happy to assist you with.  

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Adventures in the Good Faith Estimate and Refinancing: Part 2

In my last post, I began to tell you a little about my adventure with the "Good Faith Estimate" or GFE for my home loan.  Here, as they say, is the rest of the story:

So I called my friendly Chase consultant AxA.  Knowing that this was not the final GFE, I also knew that it could still be changed and we were not locked in to these fees.  I left a message and sent an email.  Shockingly, I got no response.

Here is where it gets interesting.  Life happens to us all, and time passed with me assuming that it would be taken care of.  After all, I DID send an email.  

The "final" GFE arrived in the mail.  I opened it with curiosity, fully assuming that everything would be correct.  

Bottom line?  "Total Estimated Settlement Charges:  $4,015.47.

What. In. The. FLYING HELL?
(Actually, at this point I might have used stronger language, but this is a family show.)

When I called my good friend AxA, he said "Oh.  Yeah.  That's wrong, but it's no big deal.  It'll be correct at closing.  Just sign the paperwork you get and we'll schedule it."  
No, I said, Nothing will be signed until we have corrected paperwork.  Re-do this and send out a correct GFE and we will review it and schedule closing when it is correct.

Here's where he challenged me. First, a BIG, annoyed sigh.  Then: "What's not correct?"  Was this arrogance?  Ignorance?  I suspect a combination of both.  So, I went-line by line- down the page to tell him what was not kosher.
1.  In our initial phone conversation, he said there would be no points.  Lo and behold- there's an 1/8 of a point charge.
2. In our initial conversation he had claimed no origination fee.  Guess what?
3. Hazard insurance:  $1400.  First of all, we already spoke of this and he knew that insurance was not escrowed on our loan.  Secondly, $1400??!!!  Even if we didn't already have (less expensive) insurance, I might want to shop around for a better rate.
4. Title Insurance: $894.95.  Not!   This is a reissue of title insurance, first of all, so the rate should be greatly discounted.  Secondly, you can check rate cards that are publicly available from any title insurance company, and for the amount of our loan, the highest rate I found was about $500.

He challenged me as much as he could until I said: "Listen.  I happen to be a Realtor, so I know how to read a GFE, and this one is WRONG.  This is not acceptable."

THEN- and this might be my favorite quote- he told me: "Don't worry about it.  You won't have to bring this to closing, it'll just get rolled into the loan."

This got me thinking.  Not too many people are aware that they have options when it comes to these things.  This is part of the reason that the mortgage industry is such a mess.  Many people would be so relieved to get out of their ARM and into a fixed rate that they might just accept what he said as the way things are.

But, think about this:  if I didn't question him, we would be paying interest over 30 years on over $2000  worth of charges that shouldn't even be there.  

You do not have to be "in the business" to shop your rates for title insurance.  But how many people know this?  And title insurance is just one example of the services that the consumer may choose.  Interestingly, after this conversation, my husband got a call to schedule our closing time.  "We're all set to close!" said the chipper voice from the title company.  
Well, believe it or not, my husband and I communicate regularly (!).  AxA was planning on just going around me to close out our file rather than do his job and fix the problem.

A few tips if you are going to Refinance or shop for a new loan: 

  • Take copious notes.  Write down names, dates, time called, details discussed.  Do not be afraid to ask the person who answers the phone to spell their name for you or to repeat what was said so that you can write it down.  This was good info for me to have when I spoke with AxA.  When I told him I took notes, he backed down and took off the points charged.
  • Follow up with email.  Better still, if you can follow up phone conversations with email, then do it.  Just a simple "Per our conversation today at 2pm..." and then what you have in your notes.  It's also a good idea to set your email to have a "return receipt" so that you know it was received and opened.  KEEP all emails that go back and forth.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions and challenge the answers!  So many of us are reluctant to question the bank because we assume they know what they are talking about and are telling us the truth.  But, as in my situation, paying for a couple thousand dollars over 30 years (plus interest) that should not even be charged is ridiculous.  Suggesting "rolling it into the loan" is just stupid when it doesn't even belong there in the first place.
  • Do NOT sign anything until you are satisfied that your loan paperwork is correct.  If I had just waffled and signed the loan docs stamped "sign and return", then we would have been locked into all of those erroneous charges.  
Bottom line:  my friends, if you need assistance understanding your GFE, Call me!  Or call any licensed realtor to help you understand what you are reading.  You have the right to know what you are signing and agreeing to, and what charges you do and do not have to pay!

Adventures in the Good Faith Estimate and Refinancing

A “Simplified” GFE?
Making the Good Faith Estimate More Transparent May Make it More Difficult to Close
pastedGraphic.pdfI have been living in the same home for almost 8 years now.  It is cozy and has enough room for my family.  We have designed it to suit our needs and updated or upgraded paint, bathrooms, basement.  
When we bought our home, we got a great deal on it (for the time!), and we were able to put down a pretty decent downpayment after selling our previous property.
So, our loan isn’t big.  It was originally with ABN-Amro and along the line it was purchased by WaMu.  We had no problems with that, and in fact, when  we were sent a mailer about doing a re-fi several years ago for a flat fee of $495, we decided to go for it.  We were smart- we got an adjustable rate (not the smart part...) mortgage, took a little cash out, and went on with our happy lives.  
We are thankfully nowhere near being upside down on the house (that’s the smart part), but one of these days it IS going to adjust.  Mind you, this won’t happen for at least another year.  With interest rates being low, we decided now would be a good time to lock in our rate.  If we could do that now, we would drop the interest rate down over a point, without changing our payment.  Score!
pastedGraphic_1.pdfEnter Chase Bank
In the meantime, Chase acquired WaMu.  (Cue the music: Duh-duh-DUHHHNNNN!)  People have many different stories to tell about their experience with Chase Home Loans.  This is mine:
It started with a call to the 800 number on my loan statement to try and get the right department.  This was an adventure in its own right and might even be worth another blog.
Once I got through to the correct department, I spoke with a very nice man whom I’ll call AxA.  AxA was very informative.  Per the notes I took during this first call, he told me that it would be no problem, we might even be able to lock in a rate without an appraisal!  Because we are already Chase customers, there is no origination fee!  There won’t be any points!  We have great credit!  He! was! very! Enthusiastic!!!  In double time, with me furiously taking notes, he said that there would be a processing fee of $750, but we would get some of this back at closing.  It turns out that we would need a full appraisal, but that was to be expected in this market.

pastedGraphic_2.pdfThe Good Faith Estimate Arrives
Per the new regulations and Truth in Lending, a Good Faith Estimate is sent when you originate a home loan, and then a final one is sent just before closing.  There are certain fees that a consumer is able to “shop”- among them title insurance, home inspection and a couple of others.  Because we are not purchasing a different home, inspection is not necessary.
I tore into the paperwork to see what lay inside.  This document is dated January 15- the new Truth in Lending went into effect January 1, so this would be my first glimpse.
I glanced down the page.  At the bottom, “Summary of Charges:  $2560.47”
What.  The.  Hell?
Origination charges 1510.59.  “All other Settlement Services” 1049.88.  I don’t think so.  
Next:  RealtorJenn gets to the bottom of it...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Belle Creek Family Center: Upcoming Events


Don't miss the Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast!
Come join us March 27 at 9am at the Belle Creek Family Center.  Grab your Easter basket- the Easter Bunny is expected to hide lots of treats and fun things to find!  The hunt is on rain or shine- or snow.  See you there!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Real Estate Buzz: Activity for February 2010

The action in Belle Creek is really picking up!  Thankfully, many of the "For Sale" homes in our neighborhood are being sold.  This is great news whether you are thinking of selling or not.  When existing inventory clears our, it means less vacancy, and eventually, higher home values for the Belle Creek Real Estate Market.
Here is a snapshot of what we saw in February:
3 houses went under contract in Belle Creek in February.  This means that there is a signed agreement between the buyers and sellers to purchase the home within a given period of time (anywhere from 30-60 days, usually).  During this time, the buyers will secure financing and inspect the property and the sellers agree to take it off the active market.  Earnest money has been given to the home sellers by the home buyers as a show of good faith and their intent to see the contract through.
The properties under contract are:

  • 9645 East 105th Avenue
  • 9443 East 106th Drive
  • 10933 Belle Creek Boulevard
These are what are known as pending sales.  Pending sales are a leading indicator- they show us what is likely to happen over the coming months.  The downside to pending or under contract sales is that we do not know what the offer price is or what the actual sales price will be until the sales close.

That said, there were 2 closed sales in Belle Creek this February!  They were:

  • 10967 Beeler Street.  Listed at $210,000, sold for $212,500
  • 10745 Boston Street.  Listed at $225,000, sold for $220,000

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Belle Creek Family Center: Upcoming Events

Community Garden
Only 15 garden plots remaining!  Starting March 1st, garden plots will be available to non-Belle Creek Residents.  Go to to get the complete garden form.  Sign up at the Family Center.  

Mark your calendars…

Business to Neighbors
When…March 17th @ 6 p.m.
Where…Belle Creek Family Center
What…network with other Belle Creek business owners.
RSVP to Melissa at
Or check out their website to find a specific kind of contractor @

Belle Creek Easter Egg Hunt and Pancake BreakfastWhen…March 27th @ 9 a.m.
Where…Belle Creek Family Center
Look for more information to come!

Don’t forget to visit for all the current community information.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What You Don't Know Can Haunt You: Shovel Your Walks, Please!

Section 19-1 of the Commerce City Municipal Code is a ZERO Tolerance Ordinance

Exhausted, we pulled up to the front of our home on January 2, after an 18 hour cross country drive.  We had not stopped to rest overnight, preferring to get across Iowa and Nebraska in the frigid temps as quickly as possible.  Plus, at one point over the Winter Holidays, I80 had been shut down due to snow and ice, and we did not want to risk spending several days on a hotel lobby floor or in a truck stop with a young child and a dog.

But, we came home to plenty of snow.  We had been gone for over a week and had no idea when the snow came, or how many times it had snowed, but a makeshift path had developed on the sidewalk beside our house where people had gone on their daily sojourns.  I removed the "warning" slip from the city and the next day diligently shoveled our sidewalk.

Too little, too late.

About a month later came the court summons.  This was no joke, no minor oversight.  My husband and I spent about 3 hours in court on Thursday morning finding this out.  Before we went before the judge, the City Attorney called us into his office to talk about our plea.  He was very serious about the matter.  this is a ZERO tolerance issue.  It does not matter that we were out of state.  It does not matter that that was the side of our house and our neighbor had kindly taken care of the front walk, so half of it was done.  Here is what the  Commerce City Ordinance reads:
Sec. 19-1. - Duty of owner, occupant, etc., as to maintenance of sidewalks.
The owner, occupant or agent of the owner of any building, property or lot in the city shall maintain the sidewalks for the property including those on public rights-of-way in a clean condition and remove snow and ice from the sidewalks within twenty-four (24) hours after each snowfall.
I had never even heard of this ordinance, but I know it now.

We were lucky though.  The judge gave us the minimum fine of $25 because it was our first offense, and after court costs it came to about $60.  And I can guarantee that there will be no further offenses of that sort.  So shovel your walks, neighbors.  Then go out and play!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Belle Creek: a Community with Open Hearts and Open Arms

The goal wasn't lofty.  It wasn't insurmountable.  But to a young man undergoing intensive chemotherapy and trying to support a young family, $2500 is a lot of money to pay out of pocket for his deductible.
Enter Belle Creek residents and friends.  When Jamie Latham Shaw put together the spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help our her friend, she was hoping for about 250 people at $10 a plate.
"I figured that was a reasonable goal." says Jamie.  "Between the neighbors and Levi's church, we could likely get that many here."
And how.
As the sun was setting on that February evening, people began to pour into the Belle Creek Family Center to show their support.  Donations of food poured in in the weeks leading up to the event from community members and restaurants alike, including food from Olive Garden.
A silent auction was arranged, with everything from babysitting services to Arbonne gift baskets to gym memberships.
"It looked almost like a flea market in here," commented Jamie afterword.  "People were amazing.  Every last item was bid on.  The people in this neighborhood are awesome!"
She went on to say that most people who won their auction items wrote checks to support Levi for more than their winning amounts.
The look on Levi's face was priceless.  If you have ever met Levi, you have seen his infectious grin.  It was like a beacon of warmth and light that night.  "People were incredible," he said. "I met people from the neighborhood that I never even knew.  They made a point of coming up to introduce themselves and say they just wanted to help out.  I feel so incredibly blessed."
At last count, Levi thinks there were about 500 people here, not counting kids.  "But I still haven't gone through all the pictures," he says with another one of his smiles.
And that goal of $2500?  "Well, let's just say that we went well beyond that," Jamie says with a laugh.  "Levi won't have to worry about his deductible, and he can concentrate his energy on getting better."
This is why Belle Creek residents love it here.  Levi was just beside himself at the turnout.   But Jamie put it best when she said, "people just want to give.  When so many people out there are trying to make ends meet, people want to be a part of something larger than themselves and give whatever they can.  Every little bit makes a difference."

Want to help out?  Chick Fil A, one of the generous donators at Levi's dinner, has taken it upon itself to host another fundraiser, February 20 at 5pm.  

Friday, February 5, 2010

Market Update in Belle Creek

Belle Creek has been hopping this week!  Here's the rundown for the first week of February:

  • There are currently 6 actively listed properties in Belle Creek
  • In the last week, 3 properties have gone under contract!
  • In the last week, there was 1 newly sold property:  10967 Beeler Street sold for $212,500 on February 1.
To see available properties in Belle Creek, or in any Denver metro neighborhood, 24 hours a day, please visit my website.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What's Going on in Your Neighborhood, Belle Creek? Update for February 2010

What a difference a quarter can make.

It is now 3 months since I blogged about the Real Estate Market in Belle Creek.  Since then a lot has happened, not the least of which were Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Couple that with a few snow storms and it would seem to be a dismal time to sell property in Belle Creek.

Maybe.  Belle Creek, as any neighborhood, is situated in its own little Real Estate world.  You've heard the adage "location, location, location." A look at the numbers over the last 12 months reveals what is happening in this particular location:

  • 20 Homes have sold in Belle Creek over the last 12 months.
  • The average Price per Square Foot of sold homes was $108.59
  • This represents a decrease in per Square Foot sold price in 2009 over 2008, as a whole
  • Price per Square Foot increased greatly in the 3rd quarter of 2009, then dropped modestly in the 4th quarter of 2009
What this all means for Home Buyers is that it is still a great time to buy in Belle Creek.  Prices are down  in general, but seem to be recovering.  If you are looking for a well built home in a thriving community, now is the perfect time to get into your Belle Creek dream home.

For Sellers, the news is still encouraging.  Months of Inventory in Belle Creek are at 4.8.  This means that based on sales over the last 12 months, it will take about 4.8 months to sell off the existing inventory.  Put simply, the Belle Creek Real Estate Market is fairly balanced, with a slight lean toward being a Seller's Market.  As the economy as a whole stabilizes, we will see our home prices come back up.

This is good news for all of our neighbors.

To see available properties in Belle Creek, or in any Denver metro neighborhood, 24 hours a day, please visit my website.