Spring has Sprung!

The first “official” day of spring is March 20, but temps started warming weeks ago, in the schizophrenic manner typical of Colorado. The birds will start chirping, the tulips will start poking up, and the heavy snows will fall. As most of us know, spring can bring the biggest snows. But it usually melts a moment later because, of course, the day after a big storm will be sunny and 60.

Spring is that time of year in Colorado when you have both your snow boots and your flip flops out at the same time, when you have the heat on in the morning and the A/C in the afternoon, when you can go snowshoeing in a t-shirt. It keeps you on your toes but offers endless possibilities in outdoor activities—as long as you’re willing to prepare for rapidly changing weather. Listed below are five awesome outdoor activities for spring in Colorado.

Spring can be the best possible time for skiing or snowboarding. Ideally, you can hit the slopes on a beautiful sunny spring day while simultaneously enjoying some fresh, beautiful *pow*. Here is a list of ten favorite Colorado ski resorts (Copper, Vail, Breckenridge, and the likes), complete with info on the towns and links to purchase tickets. If you want to go somewhere smaller, less crowded, and more affordable (Cooper, Wolf Creek, Echo Mountain, and 11 others), check this out.

Snowshoeing is an increasingly popular outdoor activity in Colorado, and spring is the perfect time to try it out. If you can walk, you can snowshoe, and it can take you to some seldom-traveled gorgeous trails on a spring day. This article lists five great beginner snowshoeing hikes, but snowshoes.com is a great resource for new and avid snowshoers alike.

To ease those sore muscles after skiing or snowshoeing, who doesn’t love soaking in a hot tub while it snows? Even better, soaking in some natural hot springs, with all those mineral benefits and lovely scenery. Colorado has an abundance of hot springs locations. This list tells you about 30 of them.

Scenic horseback riding is yet another way to enjoy the Colorado outdoors in spring. It keeps your own feet out of the mud while your furry friend does the work. You can do anything from a few hours’ ride to an overnight trip and feel like a real cowboy. Check out horsey ideas on this page.

Finally, after the snow melts, spring wildflower hikes can be incredible, especially in the Crested Butte area, known as the Wildflower Capital of Colorado. Closer to Denver, Roxborough and Staunton State Parks have some great trails for wildflower viewing as well, although there will be wonderful sights in any of our beautiful state parks this spring.

Just remember to pack your flip flops AND your winter parka.

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Tidy Tips

Maintaining a home is a lot of work, even as a tidy adult—even a tidy, single adult. Throw in a partner and couple of kids and pets, and you’ve definitely got your work cut out for you. “This is why we can’t have nice things!” you may find yourself saying. But you can, with a little help, make your home a (relatively) clean and happy place to be. Let’s talk about chores and pet hair, and how to minimize the destruction and live harmoniously with those fur babies and non-fur babies.

To begin, buy stock in the Magic Eraser. Invest in Lysol wipes. Fill your cabinets with carpet cleaner. Have touch-up paint on the ready. And most importantly, have your kids help with chores! It will take some of the workload off you, teach them responsibility, and give them the satisfaction of making a contribution (albeit begrudgingly at times). It will also get them in the habit of general tidiness and hopefully will create less work for you in the future.

Just don’t insist on perfection, praise them throughout, and restrain yourself from jumping in and doing it for them. Kids can start helping as early as 2 years old—picking up toys and clothes, feeding pets, etc. Slightly older children can make their beds, clear and set the table, and pull weeds. My favorite was when mine started folding their own laundry at 7. They didn’t do a great job, but I was happy to let them at it anyway. Kids 8-10 years old can help with dishes and cooking and cleaning bathrooms, which is glorious. They are much more capable than you realize, so definitely let them (make them?) help! Creating a chore chart and bribing them with a little allowance can be advantageous in this endeavor too.

Of course turning chores into a game is great whenever possible. For example, you can get your human minions to clean up animal hair with a balloon: blow it up and let them rub it on their heads. The static electricity will then suck up the pet hair; kids can wipe it off in the trash and start again. Magic! Other ways to remove fur from furniture and clothing include using a damp cloth, packing tape, rubber gloves, or (duh) a lint roller. You can also throw your hair-covered clothing in the dryer for a few minutes with a dryer sheet. Naturally, brushing Fluffy will help with the hair problem too—and I highly recommend getting the Furminator. It’s a serious miracle pet brush ($15 on Amazon!), and you can have your kids brush your pets!

Other ways to help with the pet hair and dander, beyond the obvious steps of washing your pet and their bedding regularly, could involve designating the bedroom of anyone with pet allergies as a pet-free zone. (For you animal lovers, however, this might be as impossible as keeping them off your furniture. I know I still want to squish my kitty on my face even if I have a horrific sneezing fit right after.)

If you have the option of choosing your flooring, go with a low pile carpet and steam clean often. If possible, go with wood, laminate, or tile flooring; then you can just use a dryer sheet to wipe up the piles along the wall instead of vacuuming your life away. Either way, vacuuming and dusting will mitigate the flying fuzz. Here are some of the best vacuums for pet hair: http://bestreviews.com/best-pet-vacuums. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Shark because it’s cheaper than a Dyson and still great. Try to get one with a HEPA filter. On that note, you can get a whole separate air purifier to help remove pet hair and allergens from the air. A popular one on Amazon is on sale for around $200 (https://www.amazon.com/Winix-WAC9500-Ultimate-PlasmaWave-Technology/dp/B004VGIBZK), but you can find little ones as low as $30.

Unfortunately, you can’t really train your pets to help maintain your home the same way you can your children. But you CAN get the Pet Sweep. Please oh please send me a video if you do: christy.seabourne@gmail.com. Also if you are in over your head with all the messy creatures in your life and need a referral for a housecleaner or organizing expert, pet therapist or child wrangler, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email or give me a call.

SPRING CLEANING

Spring means warmespring cleaningr weather, but it’s also a good excuse to assess your home. Is it in need of a good deep clean? You may feel as though there’s never enough time in the day to really get scrubbing, but this is a job that everyone in the family can help with. Whether you’ve just moved into your new home, or getting your current house ready before buying a new one, I have all the tips in the book! Feel free to contact me for resources on buying a home!

Spring Cleaning Tips For The Whole Family by Jaymi Naciri. Copyright © 2013 Realty Times®. All Rights Reserved.

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HOW MUCH HOME CAN I AFFORD?

When looking for a new home, it’s important to have a reasonable budget. In order to create that budget, you have to know what range is feasible to spend on that future house. As an Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®), I get this question all the time when working with mortgagebuyers. The answer to this will vary based on a few different factors, and will be heavily influenced by where you decide to settle down. Please let me know how I can help. I look forward to working with you!

Here’s How Much Salary You Need to Buy an Average US House by Beth Braverman. © 2016 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved. A Division of NBCUniversal.

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Extending the Life of Cut Flowers

There are few things more beautiful than cut flowers in a vase. They instantly brighten any room. That is, of course, until they wilt and die. So how do you make cut flowers last as long as possible? Here are some ideas:

  • Cut the bottom of the stems before you put the flowers in the vase. An angled cut is best as this will enable the flower to draw in more water.
  • Add a fertilizer to the water. Most flower shops include a pouch with the order. Follow the directions carefully. Don’t use too much.
  • Make sure the vase is high enough to support the flowers. Too much strain on the stems will cause the flowers to die sooner.
  • After a couple of days, re-snip the stems. This will add an additional day or two to the life of the flowers.
  • Flowers last longer if you put them in the fridge (in water) overnight. That’s why florists store cut flowers in cool rooms.

Finally, watch the water level and top off as required. Older cut flowers will die quickly when starved of water — even for just a couple of hours.

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Aging-in-Place Options Most Popular with Baby Boomers

In 2000, the Baby Boomer age group consisted of about 35 million people nationwide. That number is expected to increase to more than 73 million in 2030. Because of this, the aging-in-place phenomenon has been growing significantly. Read more in this article about how many aging boomers are choosing to renovate their homes to best suit their lifestyle and needs as they age.

Ways Buyers Find Homes

Do you ever wonder how most people find the homes they eventually buy? You might imagine them driving by a “For Sale” sign or seeing a home for sale in the newspaper and then calling to inquire.

Of course, many buyers find out about listed properties that way. But, according to research by the National Association of Realtors, there are many other — sometimes surprising — ways buyers find their next dream home.

For example:

  • 88% of buyers find a home with the help of a real estate agent.
  • 90% of buyers search online as part of the home buying process. (Such as viewing a property’s profile on the agent’s website.)
  • 69% of buyers searching for a home using Google, use a specific local term, such as “Whitby-south homes for sale”.
  • 29-46% of buyers attend an Open House as part of their home hunting activities.

Overall, the research shows that buyers are using a multitude of ways — combining online and offline methods — to find homes.

What does all this mean to you? If means that if you’re preparing your home for sale, you need to ensure your marketing plan takes into account all the ways buyers are finding properties — so you can be sure that they will find yours.

Looking for a REALTOR® who knows how to market your home for maximum exposure? Call today.

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The Latest in Kitchen Fire Prevention. What You Need to Know.

More fires start in the kitchen than in any other room. Those fires can be expensive; since even a minor incident, with no injuries, can result in significant damage. That’s why it’s important to keep up with the latest in fire prevention.

The most recent research tells us:

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Doing so is the number one cause of kitchen fires.
  •  Make sure cooking appliances, especially deep fryers, are safety certified by the appropriate government agency.
  •  When using oil in a frying pan, always heat slowly at no more than a medium heat setting.
  •  Always turn off stove burners and other cooking appliances immediately after cooking.
  •  Never attempt to put out a grease fire with water. Use baking soda or a fire extinguisher.
  •  Never remove or cover up a smoke detector due to nuisance alarms. The one alarm that isn’t a nuisance may save your life.

Finally, experts say that if you can’t put out a fire immediately, get everyone out of the home and call emergency services.

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How the Wrong Pricing Strategy Can Cost You Thousands

As you’re probably aware, the list price you set for your property has an impact on how quickly it sells — and how much you earn on the sale.

What you may not realize is just how significant an impact it has. Consider the following examples.

Example 1:

You price your property well above its current market value. As a result, many buyers don’t bother to see it because it’s outside of their price range. Those who do see it are confused by the high price tag, (and may even be suspicious.) They may wonder, “What’s going on?”

In this scenario, the home will likely languish on the market for weeks or even months. You might even have to lower the price dramatically to re-ignite interest.

Example 2:

You price your property just a couple of percentage points lower than what is necessary to gain the interest of qualified buyers. That might not seem like much of a problem. How much can a couple of percentage points matter?

Those points matter a lot.

On a $400,000 property, pricing your home just 2% lower than necessary could cost you $8,000 on the sale. That’s a serious amount of money!

So, as you can see, pricing your home right is serious business. Fortunately, a good REALTOR® knows how to set the right price.

Looking for a good REALTOR®? Call today or visit my website!

Year long resolutions!

These are especially important if you are looking toward retirement.

Money

Instead of fretting about whether you’ll have enough money for a comfortable retirement, really take charge of your finances.

  1. Financial review. See a financial planner early in the year to review your financial picture and determine how to make your goals a reality.
  2. Up your savings. If you already have a solid financial plan in place, up your comfort level by increasing your regular contributions, whether that’s adding another $5 per week or another $200 per month. Just get in touch with your employer or financial institution and direct it to automatically take out more from your account or paycheck each period.
  3. Will updates. Review your will and those named as beneficiaries on your accounts. This is especially important if you’ve had a life change, such as a new grandchild or if you’ve divorced.
  4. End-of-life wishes. Draw up and sign a living will and designate someone to serve as your medical power-of-attorney. It will save your family grief and ensure that your end-of-life wishes are respected.
  5. Tax prep. Get your taxes ready early in the year, rather than screeching into your CPAs office at the last second. It will give your accountant more time to identify tax breaks and you’ll have more time to implement the advice.

Rosier retirement

If you’re nearing retirement age, think about how your day-to-day life will look. Yes, many fantasize about escaping the cubicle. But an empty calendar can be daunting and the reality of full-on retirement often turns out to be less than fulfilling.

  1. Image your future. Do you dream about travel or becoming expert in an art form? Investigate your options and develop a loose plan about ways to weave your desires into your future. Then edit your desires based on your physical and fiscal circumstances.
  2. Work. Will you work part-time? If so, will it be in the same field you’re in now or do you want a complete change of pace? Seasonal jobs, including working as a ranch hand or on a cruise ship may deliver extra cash and a little adventure. Explore opportunities at Adventure Jobs (http://adventurejobs.co), and Cool Works (www.coolworks.com). Another flexible option is working in the gig economy for services like Uber (www.uber.com), Handy (https://www.handy.com), and Instacart (https://www.instacart.com).
  3. Boost your technology skills. Knowing how to maneuver your computer and smart phone can help you as you age. Plus, you can tap the numerous home services available to help you do the tasks you can’t or don’t want to do — cleaning the gutters, moving furniture, and organizing a closet. Or the skills could allow you to participate in the gig economy by becoming one of those who deliver services through apps like Uber.
  4. Volunteering. What’s your passion? Animals? Kids? Nature conservancy? Gardening? Look to http://www.volunteermatch.org to find the vast array of volunteer opportunities available and to narrow down your choices based on your interests and needs.

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