Workshop to cover financing renovations and reverse mortgages

If you’re seeking information about reverse mortgages or financing renovations of your home, join RE/MAX of Boulder, 2425 Canyon Blvd., #110, for a free informational presentation 6:30-7:45 p.m. Wednesday, June 9, on these two topics.

Colleen Rideout, a reverse mortgage specialist with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, will discuss reverse mortgages 6:30-7:15 p.m. Her presentation will cover how homebuyers 62 or older can purchase their ideal retirement home with no monthly mortgage payment by using a reverse mortgage on their current home.

Brad W. Peterson, a mortgage consultant with Colorado Capital Mortgage Co., LLC, an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, will present on financing renovations 7:15-7:45 p.m. He will explain different loan options and what to expect at each step of the lending process. He will discuss how homebuyers, homeowners, real estate agents, contractors and investors can all benefit from renovation loans, as well as guidelines for qualifying, property, renovations and funds disbursement.

Seating is limited. For more information or to reserve a seat, call (303) 449-7000 or e-mail

Signs of better times? Home sales for April paint positive picture of future market

Apparently April was the right time to buy a house in Boulder County – especially with the first-time and move-up homebuyer tax credit expiring at the end of the month.

Regardless of the mad dash to qualify for the tax credit, the sales volume for the month was impressive, says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor Association.

According to BARA, 346 single-family homes and 144 condos and townhomes sold in Boulder County in April, compared with 204 and 86, respectively, in April 2009. That’s a nearly 70 percent increase in single-family home sales and a 67 percent increase in condo/townhome sales.

"As we expected, home sales increased substantially along with inventory, both of which are good things," he says, noting more inventory gives buyers more choice. "The expiration of the tax credit is going to have a moderate dampening effect on buyer and sales activity this summer, but we’ve seen an uptick in job growth nationally as well as in Colorado (nearly 300,000 jobs added in the nation last month). That suggests that the pull back on buyer activity will be modest but sales volume will continue growing modestly (compared with normal summer sales)."

Average and median sales prices remain lower than a year ago in most Boulder communities, but none have dipped as much as 10 percent, and Louisville's has even increased.

The values of homes are "holding well in our market, certainly in light of what we’ve seen in other parts of the country," Hotard says.

While the statistics indicate that Boulder is well on its way to turning the corner toward a more stable housing market in the second half of the year or early 2011, as Hotard predicts, it’s not there yet, he warns.

"The housing market is fragile. Jumbo loans are still difficult to get, and the second-home market is going to be soft, at least until the end of 2010," he says.

Federal mortgage enterprises Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA have stepped up to bolster housing markets and are making a difference, but private lenders need to start lending money, as well, to balance the mortgage markets, Hotard says. And that could be affected by what Congress does to reform the mortgage finance process later this year.

"Going forward, job creation will continue to be the key to economic rebound," Hotard says, adding jobs will help stabilize home prices and limit future foreclosures.

"Our market is showing really good signs of turning the corner," he adds, noting it would probably take a national or international crisis to stop or reverse this trend toward economic recovery.

In all Boulder communities, Hotard says he sees consumer confidence returning not only through increased home sales and inventory, but through growing tax revenues.

"It’s been a long time since we’ve had encouraging news," he says. "There likely will be better times ahead."

Tips help families cope with summer remodeling projects

Despite the rain, cold and snow Colorado has endured this spring, summer will soon be upon us and with it comes a long list of home-improvement jobs. According to, summer home-improvement work shouldn’t trap families in their own homes, devoid of fun and overflowing with tension.

Follow these 10 survival tips to manage the stress of remodeling:

De-clutter: Begin by discarding as much of your clutter that you can, so you have as few belongings to work around as possible while you remodel.

Use licensed contractors: Using licensed contractors will help keep your family safe from dishonest and even criminal element in the remodeling industry and not undermine fair compensation for workers.

Plan and budget: A detailed work plan and budget regardless of whether you’re doing the work yourself or contracting it out. Minimize changes that would add cost and time to finish it beyond Labor Day.

Schedule: If working with a contractor, specify the days and times for work. If doing the work yourself, give your family time off to remain sane and determine what you have to do to meet your completion date.

Minimize the dust and debris: Don’t leave yourself too much of a mess to clean up when the project is finished by hanging plastic over doorways and store or cover objects needing protection.

Sleep and eat: Interference with your regular routine can make it difficult to manage stress, so set up a temporary kitchen to make easy meals such as salads and sandwiches, or eat healthy take-out food. And don’t forget to get a good eight hours of sleep every night.

Put your kids to work: For do-it-yourselfers with children home from school, allow your children to help with age-appropriate and safe tasks, providing valuable training and giving them a sense of accomplishment and contribution.

Dispense of pets temporarily: Pets don’t take to change well, so take advantage of pet day care or call in favors of neighbors or relatives to get them out of the way while you’re working.

Expect delays: Don’t expect everything to get done on schedule.

Manage the stress: Minimize other commitments while your family is dealing with any major remodeling; remain patient with each other and workers coming to your home; and schedule fun activities to make up for the disruptions to your regular routine.

Business planted firmly in providing earth friendly lawn-care services

You could say that John DeFilippi has been planting seeds of one sort or another since uprooting himself from Long Island, New York, and replanting himself in Boulder 26 years ago.

"I picked it on a map – that’s the absolute, honest truth," he says of why he moved to Boulder, noting he was in his early 20s and between college stints at the time. "I was just looking to escape the hustle and bustle of New York."

John started his own moving and storage business, The Right Move, in July 1988, nurturing it from a home-based status, operating out of his garage with one full-time employee, into an employer of as many as 100 employees and needing a 21,000-square-foot warehouse/headquarters in Erie. The Right Move branched out to locations in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs, providing local, out-of-state and international moving services. John sold the business in 2005 and it is still in operation today after undergoing ownership changes twice since he sold it.

"It was a great company," John says, "and I hope it still is."

Now John, a north Boulder resident, is trying his green thumb again – both in starting and growing a business and in lawn care: he has opened another home-base enterprise, ecoLogical Lawn Care. The business provides earth friendly lawn care to residential and commercial customers and has a crew of four full-time workers now.

"I’m going back to my strengths, which I feel are creating, starting and growing a small, local service company," he says. "The idea came to me over two years ago when I came across some rather alarming statistics from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regarding how much the lawn care business pollutes. I just felt like there’s a better way of doing it, a more earth-friendly way of providing lawn care.

"Gas-powered lawn equipment is a major pollutant," John adds. "The EPA estimates they cause as much as 10 percent of urban air pollution."

That’s why ecoLogical Lawn Care uses only cordless, electrical equipment with batteries charged with wind power on small- to average-sized residential properties, and propane-powered equipment – which burns cleaner than gas-powered equipment – on larger residential and commercial properties. Not only do both kinds of equipment pollute less than gas-powered equipment, but the electric equipment also is as much as 75 percent quieter, John says.

John says his service vehicles run on bio-diesel, and he’s considering mounting solar panels on them to recharge the equipment batteries. The fertilizer he uses is 100 percent organic, as well, and he uses no chemicals.

"We’re also working with other companies to provide xeroscaping options to folks who need to get rid of some of their turf," he says.

John launched ecoLogical Lawn Care in October and started offering services in April:

• Cutting, trimming and cleanup
• Edging
• Aerating
• De-thatching and over-seeding
• Shrub and tree trimming
• Soil testing
• Organic fertilizers
• Spring and fall clean-ups
• Sprinkler maintenance and repairs
• Weeding and mulching

"The response has been real positive, real strong," John says. "I see myself keeping busy during winter preparing for upcoming season.”

Besides owning and operating The Right Move and ecoLogical Lawn Care, John has kept busy with his real estate investment and development company, Bolder Enterprises, LLLP, which is still operating. John also drives a bus for the Boulder Valley School District.

"I love children and I love driving," he says, adding that although busses are "horrible polluters," "the children have got to be bussed. I wish the district could get more compressed natural gas-powered buses. I think they have about 10 right now. It’d be a great if the entire fleet went that way – it’s much cleaner and it's an American resource."

Although John ended up in Boulder by chance – much like seeds carried by the wind – it’s here he met his wife, Julia, and is raising his two children, Ryan, 10, and Tess, 8. And it’s here where his life is firmly rooted.

"I just think it's a wonderful community, a great place to raise a family," he says, noting the tremendous outdoor opportunities. "We love skiing, hiking, mountain climbing – anything outdoors!"

For more information about ecoLogical Lawn Care, visit or call (303) 444-3456.

BusinessWeek recognizes Boulder for lofty percentage of high-tech startups

A special report in Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek recently identified Boulder as having the highest concentration of software engineers per capita in the nation and as a destination for new high-tech companies.

The article gave some of the credit to the influx of entrepreneurs in the high-tech realm to Boulder having “the University of Colorado as an anchor and a backyard full of mountains as lifestyle bait.” According to BusinessWeek, Boulder is second only to Silicon Valley in the percentage of workers employed in high tech.

BusinessWeek says in addition to CU, the presence of research labs such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Institute of Standards & Technology has attracted well-educated people to Boulder. And the openings of Celestial Seasonings and StorageTek in the ’70s promoted the natural foods industry and a healthy tech community. Software, data services and biotech grew over the years as employees of those companies pursued other interests, including entrepreneurship.

The creation of TechStars, a business “boot camp” for startups, in 2006 has provided a training ground for Internet companies to prepare them for seed funding as well to recruit talent from around the country, BusinessWeek reports. Now Boulder is one of the top spots in the nation to create an Internet business, and several of the Internet's biggest names - Google, Microsoft, AOL and Oracle among them - have made acquisitions here.