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Great Ideas of Things to do in Fort Collins

Maybe you are new to the area, or you have lived here forever but it seems like people are always asking for our advice on things to do in and around Fort Collins. So, whether you are visiting for the day, or a local looking for something to do this weekend we have you covered. Here are a few of our favorite spots and activities. Most of these have remained open throughout the state stay at home orders, but it is still a good idea to call ahead to double check.

  • Out to eat: Tortilla Marissa’s, voted best Mexican in Fort Collins time and again this Southwestern style Mexican restaurant has a fresh take on many of your classic favorites. The chili rellenos are perfection, and a blended margarita is just refreshing enough without leaving you needing to take a nap afterwards.
  • Museum of Discovery: With an ever rotating number of exhibits like the Music and Sound Lab, Wildlands and Wildlife, First Peoples, People on the move, Food Forage and Farm, and the Schatz Family Exploration Zone, the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is a great way to spend some family friendly time with the young ones, or to simply explore for the curious and young at heart.
  • Swetsville Zoo: Did you know that Fort Collins has a zoo with no animals. The Swetsville Zoo is a collection of animals and other objects made from old farm equipment. This is a free to see activity although it is asked that you make a donation. Located just past I-25 on eastbound Harmony and is open if the sun is up. This Fort Collins classic will unfortunately not be around forever so make sure you see it before it is gone in order to get the ultimate in local bragging rights.
  • Edora Pool and Ice Center (EPIC): Five pools, an ice skating rink, this is a place filled with fun. Home to the CSU Hockey and Water Polo teams. Go check it out even if you didn’t bring a swim suit as skates can be rented and there is even spectator seating for hockey games or other events.
  • Colorado State University Trial Garden: For those with a green thumb or simply those who wish they did, the Trial Gardens at CSU are a great place to check out beautiful flowers and other plants. There is no best time of year to go as different plants will be at their peak at different parts of the growing season. Stop by anytime, there is no charge to wander around the gardens. You may even consider packing a picnic lunch and eating at the gazebo.
  • Get Outside: The patchwork of public lands around Fort Collins are lands managed by the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources and the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas department. The most notable of these that are closest to Fort Collins is the Horsetooth Rock Trail. This hike is a little strenuous especially if you are not acclimated to the altitude, and is quite popular so make sure to go early in order to get parking. For an easier hike you might try the Horsetooth Falls route that leaves from the same trailhead. However, there are an ever growing number of trails and natural areas to visit, many seasoned locals have yet to see all of them.
  • Old Town Fort Collins: This well know part of town is great for eating, shopping and night life. It is located on the North end of College Avenue. A bit of trivia, Walt Disney liked old town Fort Collins that main street in his theme park was patterned after it. Around the holiday season the entire strip is decorated with beautiful white lights illuminating the sidewalks. No matter the season you can walk around and take in the ghost advertising signs and architecture or pop into the shops for a unique shopping experience or a restaurant for dinner.
  • Brewery Tours
    • New Belgium: Check out a classic located right here in Fort Collins. You can visit the tasting room, or go out on the brewery tour. The tour is open to people of all ages, and beer tastings will occur on the tour for those of legal age. Book your tour on their website early to make sure you can actually get in:
    • O’dells: Founded in 1989, Odell Brewing was started by Doug Odell, his wife Wynne, and his sister Corkie. Today, the culture of family and collaboration still thrives, fostering a brewery full of beer-centric people. It is this passion for beer that inspires Odell Brewing to create quality, hand-crafted, innovative brews.
  • Holiday Twin Drive In: Catch a double feature and enjoy a soda and some popcorn at one of America’s few remaining drive-in movie theaters. With two screens you are sure to find a film you are interested in seeing. Just bring a camping chair and a blanket, or go all out and turn your car’s trunk into a comfy bed. Don’t miss this Fort Collins classic.

Northern Colorado History, Legends and Lore Part 1

Every place has its unique legends and lore that make it special. Sometimes it is only the long term residents who know these stories, but even well seasoned Northern Coloradoans might learn a thing or two from the legends below.

First of all did you know that Fort Collins used to have a subway system in the early 1900’s. It was designed for the worlds fair and contained underground restaurants and shopping. Unfortunately because of the proximity to the Poudre River the tunnels would routinely flood and it had to be shut down. Well now you too can embellish history a bit as this legend is one without any merit. There has never been a subway in Fort Collins, yet this continues to be a popular urban legend about our special community. Maybe someday we will be able to ride the underground rails from one end of town to the other. Until then there is always the Max bus line. You can read more about this myth at Fort Collins History Connection.

While Fort Collins never had a subway it is known for its very real trolley line known as the Fort Collins Municipal Railway. Trolley 21 and 23 are restored versions of the original trolleys that used to run back and forth to Old Town. Today they run only on Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the summer. Tickets are relatively cheap at $2 for adults, so this is an adventure everyone who lives in the area should try at least once. You can find out more about riding the trolley yourself at their website.

Our next legend is how the Poudre River got its name. According to legend there were French Canadian fur trappers in the area in the 1820’s who were stuck in a snowstorm. They decided to hide their gunpowder along the banks of the river in order to lighten their load. In French Cache a la Poudre, translates to cache the powder. While the actual date of this event and who it was who hid their power are not fully known this event led to the naming of the river Cache La Poudre River, or the Poudre for short.

For the final historical fact there used to be a brick factory at the location of what is now the parking lot for Devils Backbone Open Space. If you have been there before you might have noticed that the foundry where the bricks were cured is still there, although it has received a healthy dose of graffiti over the years. Next time you are in the area, stop over to take a peek at history and try to imagine what was built with all those bricks.

How to Buy an Investment Property

So you have thought about investing in real estate and becoming a landlord. I bet you think that it sounds pretty nice to have a monthly income outside of your 9-5, and guess what, you would be right. Maybe you are wondering how you can make this happen for you, maybe you don’t even own your own home, or maybe you don’t have 20% to put down on a rental property. Let’s discuss three different ways you can make your dream of being a landlord a reality.

House Hacking: This is the process where you purchase a multi family property and then live in one unit, while you rent out the others. You are able to collect rent from one or more tenants which directly helps to pay for the mortgage. This is beneficial in a situation where you don’t already own your own home or if you are concerned about paying a very high mortgage. No one wants to be house poor, and this situation can help with that while at the same time setting you up to be a landlord.

Cash Out Refinance: If you already own a home and have a bit of equity you can engage in a cash out refinance. This allows you to refinance your home while at the same time pulling out equity that you can use as a down payment on an investment property. Doing so now may allow you to capitalize on the record low interest rates currently available to borrowers.

Buy Today, Become a Landlord in a Few Years: If you don’t have 20% down, and you don’t already own a home then this might be the best solution for you. You can put down less than 20% depending on certain factors and buy a personal residence now. In the future you can either purchase another personal residence and use the first home as a rental or engage in a cash out refinance as explained above.

With these three tools becoming a landlord is not as far out of reach as you may have originally thought. Stay tuned for more posts about becoming a landlord, and if you have any directed questions don’t hesitate to contact us.

What is Title Insurance

 Title insurance is issued to protect you the owner or the buyer of a property against ownership claims.  Title insurance is a one time premium that protects against past events.  That protection includes claims to the rights of the property.  These can include false claims, forgeries, forgotten heirs to a property or claims to anyone. 

The title order process is as follows:

  1. The property goes under contract and contract is provided to the title company.
  2. The title company will research the title work spending form 5 to 7 business days
  3. Title commitment is issued along with a list of requirements. 
  4. The requirements are satisfied so that clear title can be provided
  5. Closing of the property
  6. Final Title policy is issued about 30 days after closing.

When title search is pulled, as a part of the under contract period, research is done to see what encumbrances there are on the property and what claims there are. When this research is done the title company can find a problem that needs to be resolved prior to closing approximately 36% of the time.  These problems can be anything from a name that has to be verified, to a mechanics lien that is on the property that has to be verified. The under contract process provides the title company with time to do the research so that they are able to provide a marketable title, that can be transferred to the new owner (buyer). 

The title commitment is issued and provides information regarding the property.  It is the report that is provided to the parties after the research has been completed.  The commitment provides information regarding liens against the property and the person in title on the property.  The requirements, that are a part of the title commitment, will tell what needs to be satisfied so that a clear title can be provided at closing.  The list of requirement are listed Schedule B of the title work.  This will include the list of liens that must be paid off and what liens must be added.  For example the new mortgage for the buyer.  The list of requirements might also require that the seller provide an improvement location certificate (ILC) for the property. Another important section of title work is schedule B part II.  This section of title work includes any easements that are on the property in addition to convenance, conditions and restrictions (CC and R’S) if the property is within an HOA.  This is important to read to make sure that the CC and R’s can be abided by.

The next things that occurs is the property is closed.  The title company participates in the closing on the property making sure that all documents are signed properly at closing, liens are paid off and all documents are properly recorded.

Approximately 30 days after closing the final title policy is issued and mailed out to the buyer.  The transaction is complete.  The title policy lasts for as long as the person owns the property.

Home Buyer Frequently Asked Questions

How do agents get paid?
The seller in a transaction will pay the agent who markets the home and a fee to the realtor that assists the
buyer with the purchase of the home. Realtors that work with buyers are typically paid a success fee when
the home closes. They buyer typically does NOT pay for the realtor’s services. I am free to you!

Why should I use a buyer’s agent?
A buyer’s agent looks out for the best interest of the buyer. Wouldn’t you like a trained, knowledgeable
professional looking out for your best interest when making the biggest financial decision of your life?

How do I use an agent when buying new construction? Why should I?
Have Lestel show you the new construction in the area that is in your price range. She can tell you about
the builder, their reputation and share with you about the neighborhood. She can also negotiate the offer for
you. Lestel understands the complexities of the fine print in the builder’s contract and can help you make
good decisions regarding options. A new construction representative is there to sell you more features and
more house. Lestel can help you set limits and be your guide through the process. Lestel can step in, on
your behalf if there is a problem. She is there for you!

What are the costs of buying a home?
When you purchase a home you will need to pay for your inspection and appraisal up front as a part of the
under contract period. When you close on your home you will need to pay your closing cost and your down
payment. How much your closing costs and down payment will be depends on the type of loan that you get.
You will need to talk to your mortgage lender to get more information.

What will my monthly payments be?
Your monthly payment will depend on several things. It will depend on how much you are borrowing, what
your interest rate is on your loan, what your real estate taxes are on the home and how much you are paying
in homeowners insurance. If you are paying private mortgage insurance that will also effect your monthly
payment. Your lender will be able to let you know what to expect before you close on your new home.

What do I do when I find a home I want to see?
When you find a home that you would like to see, whether on the internet or driving around, call Lestel. If
you contact the agent that has the sign in the yard or the one that is mentioned on the website, you will be
contacting the agent working for the seller and who is looking out for the sellers best interest. If you look at
a home with another agent Lestel cannot represent you or negotiate the offer for you.

What are the benefits of working with Lestel?
Lestel Meade has been a full time Realtor since 1998. Real estate is her career. Put her Experience, Enthusiasm, Education and Energy to work for you!

What you need to know about Buying New Construction in and Around Fort Collins

Northern Colorado is an ever growing and changing area. With that comes a lot of development. So you may find yourself thinking about purchasing a new construction home rather than something existing. If this is the path you want to take there are a few things you should know before pulling the trigger on a new construction home in and around Fort Collins, CO. 

First of all it is important to bring an agent. The reason is in the name. An agent is defined as anyone who advocates on your behalf, that is exactly what you want in this situation. The builders rep is there for the builder. A lot of people think that by going unrepresented they will save the money that would have otherwise gone to cover their agents commission. This is a common misconception, but in reality the builder will charge you the same amount for the same house as the person who walks in after you with their agent. Your agent is there for you to look out for your best interests as well as negotiate for you and have the hard conversations for you.

In order to make sure you get to work with an agent you need to select one prior to going out to the model home the first time. This is not to say that you can’t still be represented if you have already done this as we have negotiated for clients after this point, but it makes it very difficult. Instead select your agent and have them accompany you to any new construction developments you are interested in. Obviously one of the best realtors in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado is Lestel, so this decision should be the easiest one you make.

Have Lestel show you the new construction in the area that is in your price range. She can tell you about the builder, their reputation and share with you about the neighborhood. She can also negotiate the offer for you. Lestel understands the complexities of the fine print in the builder’s contract and can help you make good decisions regarding options. A new construction representative is there to sell you more features and more house. Lestel can help you set limits and be your guide through the process. Lestel can step in, on
your behalf if there is a problem. She is there for you!

Tips for Buyers Wanting to Make a Competitive Offer

Home buyers get ready for a wild ride this spring.  We are shaping up to have another spring buying season that has low inventory and a high number of buyers.  With this being the case, it is important to know how to navigate this market to put you in the best position to win when you write an offer on a home that you want to buy.  Here are 5 tips to set you up for success in the home buying process. 

  1.  Listen to your real estate agent.  Connect with an agent you trust and let that agent guide you.  Do not trust you emotions.  Your agent can help you stay focused on what is important to you and not allow you to compromise on your must haves or your financial needs.
  2. Know your budget. It is important to know how much house you can afford.  It is also vital to be pre-approved before you start looking.  Only 44% of today’s prospective buyers are pre-approved.  This alone can help you stand out as a strong, serious home buyer.  It can give you an edge in a competitive offer situation.
  3. Be ready to make a decision. When you find a home you like be ready to write an offer right away. The National Association of Realtors has said that the average property being sold today is receiving three offers and is only on the market a total of a few weeks. That is from when it goes on the market to closing.  That means that you do not have the ability to “sleep on it” or you will not be sleeping in the home you love.
  4. Make a fair offer.  This is where the agent for the buyer should call the listing agent to find out what is important to the seller so that those wishes, if possible can be included in the offer. This is not the type of market for a buyer to get a “deal.”  Your agent can help you arrive at an offer that is based on the market value of the home, based on the location, condition and recent sales in sales in the area.
  5. Be a flexible Negotiator.  Once a seller has received your offer they can accept the offer, reject the offer or counter with their own changes.  In a competitive market it is important to be flexible.  The seller may want a different closing date or want to keep the washer and dryer for example. Being flexible, can mean success for you in the negotiation process. Now what is important and also be ready to walk away if the seller is asking too much.

During the emotional time of buying a home trust your agent to help you keep you on tract, navigating  the market so in the end you end you becoming a home owner. 

Hot Seller’s Market

Hot seller’s market in Northern Colorado is taking some of the uncertainty away for sellers.  A recent survey of sellers, that was conducted by Zillow, found that sellers find the experience of selling a home to be stressful.  We all know this to be true, whether you are an agent involved in the transaction or a seller.  Part of the stress of selling your home is the unknowns that can be a part of the process.  As the seller you want to know what you are going to have to do to prepare your home for sale.  You want to know what your home will sell for.  You also want to know how long it will take to sell.  These concerns are normal and certainly warranted. Some of this stress comes from the seller not having a lot of control over the much of the process of selling their most valuable assets. 

When your home is positioned in a hot seller’s market some of the stress of the unknowns can fade away.  You can expect that your home will sell rather quickly and that more than likely it could sell for close to full price. You can also assume that preparing your home for sale will not be a long and difficult process.  It is easy to see that a strong seller’s market can take some of the stress out of selling your home.  Each home is unique and you will need to consult your real estate agent for guidance.

Work closely with your agent can also help to minimize your level of stress.   Follow your agents guidance on preparing your home for sale and pricing.  Don’t assume that you have the best house on the block and that all you have to do is list the home for sale and there will be a line of buyers that want to pay top dollar for your home.  Address any known issues with your home before putting your home on the market. Addressing issues ahead of time will help the home be as attractive as possible and ensure that a future inspection will go as smoothly as possible. Follow you realtors’ guidance, throughout the process.  Now may be the time to sell your home.  Call Lestel and see if you can use this market to your advantage!

So, What’s it like to live in the Landings?

The Landings is a collection of 400 residences made up of a mix of single family homes, townhomes and condo units. It is located in Mid-Town Fort Collins near foothills mall and the Max bus line. This makes for easy access to shopping, dining out, or attending a movie at the nearby theater. The central location also means excellent access to other parts of town making for a short commute no matter where you work. Midtown Fort Collins also seems to have less traffic than other areas like the Harmony Corridor as once you people are here they have reached your destination, rather than passing through on their way to somewhere else. 

The thing that sets the Landings apart from other neighborhoods is Warren Lake. Warren Lake is a 141 Acre irrigation reservoir that supplies water for many City of Fort Collins properties. The Landings holds surface rights to the lake which allow for recreation access for swimming, sailing, canoeing, paddle boarding or low horsepower electric motor watercraft. There is also some outstanding fishing in the lake as it is stocked with some regularity. The lake features a surrounding trail as well as several greenbelts along the periphery. There are many community gatherings that take place next to and on the lake including a chili cook off, a sailboat race regatta in the summer and a 4th of July parade on the street. The lake attracts many different forms of wildlife and there are frequent bald eagle sightings. Many other charismatic fauna call the area around Warren Lake home, including owls, wood ducks, cooper’s hawks, golden eagles, pelicans and cormorants just to name a few.

There are many other amenities within the Landings. There are two separate tennis court locations one of which has lines for pickleball. There is also a pickleball set that you can borrow to try your hand at the sport. The pool is a common gathering place for the children and their parents as they look to cool off in the summer. The neighborhood is a friendly and active one where most people wave at passers by, and many people get outside to recreate either, walking, biking, or playing on the lake in the summer.

After reading all that we hope it is clear that Warren Lake is a great place to call home. If you would like more information, or a personalized tour of Fort Collins including this and other neighborhoods that may be of interest to you please contact us and we would be happy to be of assistance.

Blueprints for your Home Search

Whether you are a first time home buyer or an experienced homeowner, doing your homework before looking for a home is the key to saving you time and helping you get the best value for your money. How is it that your real estate agent helps you?

  1. The first step in shopping for a home is to make sure that you have financing ready to go! Your agent can recommend trusted lenders that will take you through the pre-approval process so you are ready to go shopping for your home.
  2. Your Realtor helps you find a home. But more than that, they provide you with information on neighborhoods, schools and the locations so that you can make good decisions on a home that best fits you. Your agent helps you clarify your needs and wants and provides you with property options that meet your specifications as much as possible.
  3. Now it is time to write the offer and negotiate. Your realtor will analyze the value of the home and advise you on what your initial offer should be. The market affects what you can do, but a good negotiator can tip the scales In your favor. Your agent will direct you on how to proceed with the seller’s response to your offer.
  4. Inspection time! Your agent knows the best home inspectors in the area. They will recommend
    the best that can help provide you with the true state of your home that you are interested in buying.
  5. Once you know about the condition of the home it is time to negotiate repair requests. Your agent can help you understand the inspection report and help you evaluate what is important to you to have repaired by the seller or if you should asked for a concession at closing. Realtors help you focus on what repairs to asked for and what to let go of.
  6. Your realtor handles all of the details so that your home purchase goes smoothly. They keeps everyone informed. They monitors the loan process so that you can successfully get to closing.
  7. Closing Day! You only need to get through closing to finally get your home, but details can make the difference on that final day. Everything from making sure you bring your driver license to making sure that the wire is received by the title company. Your agent does everything she can to insure that your closing day goes off without a hitch.

Your agent is your experienced guide through the process from beginning to end.