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Christopher Crosby's Blog

By Christopher Crosby | Agent in Greenwood Village, CO
  • Fall Maintenance Tips

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Property Q&A in Greenwood Village, Home Ownership in Greenwood Village  |  September 18, 2014 11:41 AM  |  9 views  |  No comments
  • Money-Saving Moving Tips

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Greenwood Village, Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Moving in Greenwood Village  |  September 10, 2014 7:07 PM  |  36 views  |  3 comments

    1. Don't take it all with you 

    Furniture you're no longer in love with or appliances like washers and dryers or the fridge you have in the garage can be a pain to move. You can potentially save money (and time and hassle) by including them in your home sale. First-time buyers or someone moving from out of state may appreciate your old stuff far more than you, and you don't have to pay to haul it to your next place.

     

    2. Leave the flat screen

    If you have a mounted flat screen TV that's at least a few years old, consider leaving it behind too. The cost of taking it down and repairing the wall behind it plus the care involved in moving it might not be worth it. Flat-screen technology is always improving while costs are coming down, so it's a good excuse to buy something bigger and better without spending a lot.

    3. Negotiate everything 

    If you've been looking for a house or have bought one before, you're probably already aware of closing costs. But you might not be aware of how much you can negotiate with your lender.

    "Shop around before choosing a mortgage lender, but don't stop there," said Bankrate. "When you receive your good faith estimate of closing costs, or GFE, the negotiation hasn't ended." This itemized list of estimated closing costs includes lender's fees as well as items such as appraisal charges and title insurance premiums. 

    "The lender or broker charges some fees, and third parties charge others. The first step is to find out which are loan origination fees and which are third-party fees. Don't guess. Ask the lender or broker."

    Bankrate advises that while "some items are non-negotiable: taxes, city and county stamps, recording fees, prorated interest and reserves," negotiating on others that can "be waived or reduced" can save you money."

     

    4. Barter for services

    Need a handyman and have appliances or furniture you're getting rid of? You just might be able to make a deal. Ask around for referrals and then introduce a barter system into the equation during your first conversation. You might be surprised what you can get for what you've already got.
     


    5. Move Smart 

    Once you're out of college, or maybe out of your first post-college apartment, thinking about renting a U-Haul and moving yourself (or with a few good friends) seems less than desirable. But if you're willing to sweat a little (ok, a lot) you can save a bundle. Just remember two important things to entice and thank your friends: Pizza. And beer.

     If you don't want to do the whole thing on your own, think of ways you can save by doing a hybrid move:

    • Do the packing and unpacking yourself
    • Have everything on one floor. Stairs can add considerably to the cost of a move.
    • Pare down. Maybe you don't need to bring all that stuff with you. Selling it will earn you a few bucks and save you a few more.

     

    6. Consider moving and storage hybrid options

    A company like PODS or U-Pack might be a solution for you if you need self storage wrapped into your move. Essentially, the company drops off a mobile storage unit at your house and you pack it up yourself. They then pick it up and move it for you. You can tack on storage at the end if needed, making this a particularly good solution for those who have time between their move out and their move in. This type of move can cost up to 35 percent less than traditional movers, but keep in mind you will be doing the labor—just not the driving.

     

    7. Take advantage of special offers

    Move-in offers for cable, Internet, and phone service can save you a lot of money. But they often come with a catch that could cost you down the line. Look out for special limited-time offers—one-year or six-month specials that expire, leaving you with much higher rates after the introductory period.

     

    8. Don't rush the renos

    Chances are, after you move in, you're going to start receiving all kinds of junk mail asking if you want to refi, redo your lawn, and apply for 72 different credit cards. In what seems like an endless pile of junk mail will be some special offers for new homebuyers, but they might not arrive for a month or more. Look out for coupons from handymen, companies selling flooring and window coverings, home furnishing companies like Bed Bath and Beyond and World Market, and offers from landscapers with discounts for new clients. If you're planning to shop, renovate, or do some work on your interior or exterior, taking advantage of a few of these offers can help shave down the cost.

     

     

    Shared from “8 Ways to Save Money on Your Move and Move In” by Jaymi Naciri.

  • Avoid Moving Company Scams

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Greenwood Village, Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Moving in Greenwood Village  |  September 5, 2014 11:14 AM  |  40 views  |  3 comments

    Moving. Always such a joy, right? Hm…probably not. Sure, the thought of getting all settled in to your new home is exciting, but everything that goes into it is usually exhausting and incredibly stressful. One way to thwart some of that stress and exhaustion, of course, is to hire a moving company to handle the (literal) heavy lifting (and hopefully keep your friends from avoiding your phone calls for the two weeks prior to your move). While absolutely worth it in my humble opinion, there are some caveats to be aware of before you watch all of your worldly possessions drive down the street in a stranger’s truck.

     

    Do your research 

    Proper preparation can help you ward off many of the issues that can turn a move into a nightmare, and that's starts with a healthy dose of research. You always want to ask for a referral rather than using an unknown. And not just anyone is qualified to give a referral, according to MSN. "Ask your real-estate agent. The general consensus among moving professionals is that word of mouth is the best way to find a good mover," they said. "Real-estate agents know the ins and outs of the housing industry and are the most reliable sources. Realtors want to make sure that your (moving) transaction is a good one."

    There are also websites dedicated to moving scams. "MovingScam.com maintains a ‘black list,'" they said, as well as a "message board filled with consumer experiences, bad and good."

     

    Verify licensing and look for complaints 

    MSN recommends people who are moving investigate the companies they are looking at using. Interstate movers must be licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

    "Check with your area's Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed and whether there are reliable," they said.

    ProtectYourMove.gov also provides info on whether a mover's license is current "and if the company has ever had a federal complaint."

     

    Watch out for the lowball bid 

    "You get what you paid for" is often a dangerous reality when it comes to moving. To protect yourself against unethical movers, get several estimates and make sure to weed out any that seem too low. Yes, the desire to save money is strong. But an unusually low bid is often a red flag, and when all of your things are being held hostage while you cough up the remainder of the cost, it probably won’t seem so worth it.

    "When shopping for movers, it's best to get at least three estimates, " said MSN. "If you've got one that's really, really low compared to the other two, you're going to know something's up."

     

    Have a contingency plan

     No matter how well you prepare, the unexpected can still happen. What if the truck doesn't show up on time? Are you prepared to live without your things for a few days, or longer? Make sure you pack a bag of essentials you can have with you while the rest of your stuff is stuck on the truck. 



    Protect yourself 

    The Better Business Bureau suggests paying a little extra for peace of mind. "Consider accepting full value protection. It may cost a few dollars more up front, but it can eliminate headaches after your move," they said. "Purchasing full (replacement) value protection from your mover means any lost or damaged articles will be repaired or replaced, or a cash settlement will be made to repair the item or to replace it at its current market value, regardless of age. The cost of full value protection must be included in the initial estimate you receive for an interstate move."

     
    For more information, visit: https://www.protectyourmove.gov

     

    Shared from “How to Protect Yourself During a Move” by Jaymi Naciri.

  • The 4-1-1 on Hardwood Floors

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Remodel & Renovate in Greenwood Village, Design & Decor in Greenwood Village  |  August 27, 2014 8:40 AM  |  35 views  |  No comments

    I have yet to hear a buyer say, “Oh bummer, this home has hardwood floors” when we walk into a listing. We all know it’s a desirable feature when selling or buying a home. And like most things, there’s a lot to know.

     

    Solid hardwoods:  Solid hardwoods are the most expensive option. They come in planks of various lengths and are typically 3/4' thick. The floors are installed as raw wood and sanded down and stained on site. The advantage is that your floors can be refinished often over the years. Solid hardwoods are not recommended over concrete slab foundations. Disadvantages are that hardwoods cannot be washed with water, water leaks can cause them to bow, and direct sunlight can cause stained finishes to bleach.


    Engineered hardwoods:  Composed of layers or plies of wood that are glued together and finished with a laminate, engineered hardwoods are finished with a final layer of hardwood that is generally between ¼" and ½" thick. The advantage of engineered hardwoods is that they are suitable for any foundation. Drawbacks are that laminated floors usually cannot be refinished.


    Engineered hardwoods come in a variety of styles, such as long-strip hardwoods in which the flooring can be installed several "planks" at a time. Parquet floors are also engineered with strips of hardwoods laid like tiles that form patterns such as herringbone. Floating floors are planks that fit together and can be glued or nailed down to the subfloor.


    Stains and finishes:  If your floor comes unfinished, you need to know what kind of wood it's made of in order to select a stain, as different woods can make stain colors change tone. A good way to choose is to ask the installer for samples, or you can go to a local paint and home improvement store and view stain colors. Sherman Williams "Wood Classics" have color charts just like paint, so you can see how the stain you choose will appear on your wood floor.


    Keep in mind that unfinished floors must be sanded, stained and sealed on site, which is labor intensive, time consuming and messy as you wait for each layer to dry. Factory finished floors are usually warrantied, they can be installed immediately which saves time and labor, and only the glue to the subfloor has to dry.


    Finishes are important to choose because they dictate how you will care for your floor. If your floor has a penetrating seal, you will have to wax it to keep it burnished. If the floor is sealed with a urethane, polyurethane or other polymer coat, it's water resistant and easy to clean with a mop.


    Types of wood:  The most common woods for floors are species of oak, pine, walnut, pecan, birch, beech, ash, cherry, maple, cypress and Douglas fir.


    Wood for floors can be exotic, and are prized for their unusual grains and colors. Exotic woods include mahogany, teak, and Brazilian cherry.


    One of the most popular flooring options is actually a grass, not a wood. Bamboo is a quick-growing resource that is easily replenished, making it a good choice for green-building. Bamboo can be cut and finished like any hardwood, and is more durable in some cases.


    To learn more about wood floors, visit Woodfloors.org.      



    Shared from “Choosing Hardwoods for Floors” by Blanche Evans.

  • 5 Tools for Joe on the Go

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Greenwood Village, Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Home Ownership in Greenwood Village  |  August 18, 2014 11:57 AM  |  48 views  |  No comments

    Has anyone ever crawled out of a tent, breathing in the fresh morning mountain after a wonderful night’s sleep in the great outdoors only to find that coffee was the one thing was overlooked when packing the cooler? Or (worse?) someone was thoughtful enough to throw in a few packs of instant? Well, unfortunately this has been me. The good news is it only happened once (I’m a fast learner), and that I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to happen to you. Friends don’t let friends have coffee-less travels. I can assure you, it’s safe to leave your home with these 5 essential tools from our friends at The Kitchn (www.thekitchn.com), which are way better than some of the things I’ve come up with to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

     

    1. Grind Your Beans: Porlex Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder

    You didn't think you were going to get away with pre-ground coffee while traveling did you? Oh yes, yes, you can have a burr grinder on the go. Small and light, this grinder works well for travel.

     

    Find it: Porlex JP-30 Manual Coffee Grinder, $69 at Stumptown Coffee

     

    2. Press Your Coffee: Snow Peak Titanium French Press

    Honestly this one is as functional as it is beautiful, and if you want to make your coffee friends jealous, this French press will do the trick. Snow Peak also makes a collapsible filter setup, which if you're looking to save space is also an excellent option.

     

    Find it: Snow Peak Titanium Cafe Press, $55.95 at Amazon

    3. Brew Your Coffee: MSR Mug Mate

    Another option for brewing coffee is to do it directly into your mug. If this is the route you want to go, look no further than the MSR Mug Mate. It's easy to clean, and means no coffee filter waste.

     

    Find it: MSR Mug Mate Coffee/Tea Filter, $16.95 at MSR

     

    4. Drink Your Coffee: Innate Gear Doppio Tumblers

    You want something small and portable to drink your coffee out of, and for this I love the Innate Gear Doppio. Yes, it's called a "doppio" because it does in fact fit a double espresso shot, which is great if you're checking out the local coffee shop and don't want to get a disposable cup. Pairs well with a good thermos of course, to keep that rest of your brewed coffee nice and hot.

     

    Find it: Innate Gear Doppio Tumblers, $10.60 at Amazon

     

    5. Store Your Coffee Beans: Airscape Container

    While you can always store your beans in the bag you bought them in, sometimes you may want something that can handle the wear and tear of travel a little better. For this you want an airtight container. The Airscape container by Planetary Design is nice as its inner lid and valve allows you to get the air out, ensuring a truly airtight lock, which will keep those beans nice and fresh.

     

    Find it: Airscape Container, $21.45 at at Liquid Planet

  • Navigating the Wide World of Paint

    Posted Under: Agent2Agent in Greenwood Village, Remodel & Renovate in Greenwood Village, Design & Decor in Greenwood Village  |  August 13, 2014 10:32 AM  |  42 views  |  No comments

    Picasso I am certainly not. In fact, choosing a paint color is one of the most stressful things for me to be tasked with as far as home improvement goes. You would think, just paint over it if you hate it, right? No big deal! For some reason, I never can seem to get into that relaxed mindset about it. And as a real estate broker, “Which paint color do you recommend?” is a question I’m faced with quite often with people either selling or buying a home. So since I seem to freeze up in an almost comical way over this, I am happy to share these few tips for choosing a paint color from Brian Patrick Flynn, one of our heroes at HGTV, just in case anyone else out there needs a little clarity on the topic as well.

     

    Opt for Test Sizes

    Before committing to a full gallon, first try out a few samples to really nail down which shade of a particular color you want. Available at most paint stores for less than $5 each, these little testers are just enough to cover a large wall area or sample board with paint.

     

    View Swatches in Natural Light

    It's common to fall in love with a paint swatch in the store then find the color looks drastically different once it's painted on your walls. This is caused, in part, because paint looks different under artificial light versus natural light. For a better idea of the finished color, always look at paint chips near a window.

     

    Compare Paint Chips to White

    Similar to using a quarter to show the scale of an object in a photograph, comparing any color against white will ensure its tonal values really clearly. When looking over paint chips at home, try laying them out on a white surface.

     

    Opt for Inexpensive Foam Brushes

    To save time when painting test swatches, use disposable foam brushes rather than a standard paintbrush you'll have to wash clean between colors.

     

    Live With the Colors

    With so many options to choose from, nailing down just the right hue can be tough. To make the selection process easier, it's smart to test out several paint colors along one wall and live with them for a few days, noting how they look both day and night. Label the painted swatches with painter's tape so you'll remember which color you liked best.

     

    Consider Spraying Instead of Rolling

    Something that's often overlooked when painting walls is the difference between spraying versus rolling. While rolling is the most popular method, it's also the most time-consuming and requires the most touchup. Sprayed finishes not only ensure a more professional end result, they also cut the amount of time required to paint a room in half. HVLP (high-volume, low-pressure) sprayers can be rented by the day through most home improvement stores. Spraying paint can be a messy business so always be sure to thoroughly cover all doors and windows with painter's plastic to ensure paint dust doesn't drift into other rooms.

     

    Customize Your Colors

    Designers often create custom colors by having paint stores mix extra black or white into existing colors to darken or lighten them. While this is a great way to achieve a custom finish, custom tints make it difficult to match up the paint color for any future touchups.

     

    Forget Matchy-Matchy

    While many paint stores offer a computerized service that can precisely match any color, designers often stay away from exact matches and instead choose a shade that's a bit lighter or darker. When using rugs or upholstery fabrics as inspiration, choose a hue that's very close in tone without matching exactly.

     

    Color the Ceiling

    Rather than leave the ceilings white, designers often choose to paint them. The old rule of thumb that white ceilings make a room feel brighter and larger doesn't always hold true; just have the paint store mix paint for the ceiling which is 50 percent lighter than the wall color. Once applied to the ceiling, the walls and ceiling will feel cohesive rather than dark and cavernous.

  • 8 Bathroom Woes Solved

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Greenwood Village, How To... in Greenwood Village, Home Ownership in Greenwood Village  |  August 6, 2014 7:30 AM  |  46 views  |  No comments

    I can’t think of a single person offhand who would claim to enjoy cleaning their bathroom (and if you’re one of them, please share your secret). But let’s face it, it’s one of the areas in your home that needs the most attention. Part of my problem is that some of those cleaning and maintenance tasks either a) completely mystify me, or b) seem far too difficult to tackle. Enter this handy little piece by Chris Hill on the DIY Network with all kinds of helpful tips. Keep reading for some easy ways to give your loo a little TLC.

     

    Low Pressure in Showerhead

    Most showerheads and faucets now come with water-saving devices called reducers. They’re great for saving water (and money), but sometimes these models are not as powerful as you would like. To remove the water reducer, unscrew the showerhead off its arm. Look inside for the reducer; it is usually a bright color. Remove the gasket that holds the reducer in place then remove the reducer. Another cause of bad water pressure is hard water which can leave mineral deposits in a showerhead and restrict water flow. To clean a showerhead, soak it in vinegar to loosen and remove deposits. Boiling the vinegar, letting it cool a bit, then placing the showerhead in it will make it work even faster. If your water pressure hasn’t improved, check the shut off valves (both cold and hot) for your shower to see if they're not open as fully as they could be.

     

    Dingy Faucet Handles

    While we'd all probably like to replace our faucets, but sometimes the budget doesn’t allow it. Those original one-handled clear plastic faucet handles can get a bit funky over time from hard water deposits or simple daily use. You can pick up replacements at the home center for a few dollars, or if they're in good shape, save money by removing them (all it takes is a screwdriver) and giving them a soak in vinegar and a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush. You'll be surprise at how well they'll shine and gleam.

     

    Exhaust Fan Woes

    Over time, dust builds up in the fan slits and makes it work less efficiently and effectively. You can test the fan's strength by placing one square of toilet paper in front of it when running to see how much air it is drawing in (however, this may only show you how strong a fan you have installed). If replacement isn't an option, give the fan a good cleaning with a vacuum hose fitted with a brush attachment. It's also possible there could be a blockage in the exhaust pipe. To clean this, you can use a dryer vent brush, which has a flexible long handle with a brush on the end.

     

    Cabinet Facelift

    If your bathroom cabinets are looking dingy but are still in good functioning shape, there's no need to feel stuck if your budget is limited. Even builders' grade laminate covered cabinets can be freshened up. There are kits available that include all primers and paint/epoxy layers, or you can simply sand, prime and paint using ordinary materials. To make the job easier, remove all the doors, drawers, hardware and work on these parts in a clean workspace away from the bathroom. It's best to use rollers or foam brushes to get a smooth finish, and you should top it off with a coat of polyurethane or polycrylic. For the finishing touch, pick up some new knobs and pulls.

     

    Broken Tile

    Cracked or broken tile is not only unsightly, but can also be a trip hazard, a sharp exposed edge, or an entry point for leaks. Cut around the broken or cracked tile at the grout line using a tile saw attachment for a rotary tool. If it's not loose, you'll need to break up the tile using a hammer or a cold chisel. Make sure you protect the surrounding good tile. Clean the area thoroughly and check to see if there is a void that may have cause the tile to crack. If so, apply a leveler compound, smooth, and allow to set. Apply mortar to the back of the tile and area it's being inserted, and set in place, making sure it is level with the surrounding tile. Allow the mortar to set and apply grout. When this sets, apply a grout sealer.

     

    Boring Mirror

    Have you ever taken off one of those giant double-vanity mirrors that builders cement to the wall? Believe me, it's a rough chore when balancing to keep the mirror intact (7 years is too much bad luck for my taste) as well as minimizing the damage to the drywall that can create a lot of extra work in patching and repairing. A simple solution is to keep the mirror and dress it up with molding. Just about any type of molding will work, but one with a rabbet on the back edge will allow it to fit up against the edge of the mirror and extend past it, giving a nice finished look. Since this inside part of the molding will be reflected back, paint it black or the same color as the rest of the molding. Miter the corners and it'll look like a perfect frame.

     

    Dirty Grout

    A big mistake homeowners often make is not sealing the grout lines after doing a tile job, or not requesting the grout be sealed after having the job done for them. It won't take long to regret this decision when irregular color patterns start showing up in the grout. But all isn't lost. Manufacturers have vastly improved grout cleaning products that will get the job done. However, these products are pretty noxious and you'll need to take a lot of precautions. An alternative is a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, and there is always the option of use a steam spot cleaner. No matter what you use, you'll need some elbow grease and heavy-duty brushes. Once you've cleaned the grout and allowed adequate drying time, seal the grout. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendation on any addition steps to take before applying the sealer.

     

    Preventing Mold

    Mold needs moisture and because your bathroom is the wettest place in the house, it's always the first place to develop those unsightly spots. The first step to preventing the accumulation of mold is to allow proper air circulation. An exhaust fan will help to draw out moisture, but don't discount the simple act of keeping the bathroom door or window open. If you have a shower curtain, make sure to open it all the way when you're done showering to allow air to flow around the curtain and water to drain away. Use a squeegee to wipe moisture off of the shower walls and door. A slow drain keeps moisture longer, so make sure it is working properly. Be on the lookout for leaks, particularly in hidden areas like toilet and sink shut off valves. The latter are usually behind or enclosed within a vanity and can be leaking slowly without being noticed. It goes without saying that regularly cleaning will also prevent the build up of mold.

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