Refinancing? Why Your Bank May Not Be the Best Deal

Procuring a second opinion from an outside lender against and your mortgage holder’s quote is always a prudent route to explore, even more so if you have steady employment, good credit and manageable debts.  Working with an expert loan professional could mean the difference between having a quick, efficient process with reasonable rates and fees and a process with a lender that cannot be guaranteed to go easily merely because they collect your mortgage payment each month.
Read article – Yahoo! Finance

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Revive housing project not dead yet

Developers hoping to revive a geothermal housing and commercial project in North Fort Collins haven’t given up hope yet.  Options for the stalled 89-unit project could include redesigning the project to make it more financially feasible or going ahead without tax increment financing, or TIF.  The city’s Urban Renewal office hopes the project can be saved.
Read article – Coloradoan

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Central Air Conditioning Maintenance

Why should a homeowner schedule regular maintenance on the air conditioning unit? The number one reason is: to save money!  Having an HVAC contractor service the unit can save thousands of dollars down the road if they discover something minor that could potentially lead to big trouble later on.  And, really, these things never break down at a convenient time, we all know that!

First item to check is the weather.  In order to safely test a central air conditioning unit, the ambient temperature should be 65 degrees or better.  In Colorado, this time frame can be April, but definitely can be done in May. But, best to get it done earlier than later.  Once it heats up outside, the HVAC companies will be busy and their schedules will be much tighter.

How often: Annually

Cost:  The cost varies, but usually runs from $75-$100 (provided no major repairs need to be done)

During the service call, the HVAC technician should perform the following:

1.  Check for proper refrigerant (freon) levels. A low level indicates a leak, to be found and repaired before adding more freon.

2.  Check all electrical components and controls.

3.  Clean evaporator and condenser coils, as needed.

4.  Oil motors as needed.

5.  Calibrate thermostat.

6.  Check Condenser.

7.  Check filters.

For those DIY’ers……here are some items to keep in mind: 

The first thing to do is to check the condensing unit outside to make sure it’s not covered up.  Some homeowners intentionally cover the unit even though it is not necessary because it is designed to withstand the natural elements.  Also, leaves from the fall, lawn furniture, toys, newspapers etc, can end up on or around the condensing unit so be sure that it is clear of all debris.

  • Run the air conditioner before you need it.  If you wait until its hot out, you’ll   be stuck in a long line of homeowners waiting for an HVAC technician.
  • Change the filters regularly.  Dirty filters reduce efficiency, restrict air flow, and can help with mechanical failure.
  • Be sure the thermostat is set in the cooling mode.  Setting the temperature lower will not activate the air conditioning.
  • Never use water to clean the the air conditioning unit.  A clean unit will operate at top efficiency, but homeowners using a hose and water run the risk of electrical shock and possibly shorting electrical components.

Article courtesy of Blue Ribbon Home Warranty

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Colorado unemployment rate down in January, continuing trend

Colorado started off 2014 with a declining unemployment rate of 6.1% in January, continuing a sustained downward trend evident in 2013.  The last time the unemployment rate was as low as 6.1% was December 2008.  In addition employers added 7,300 nonfarm payroll jobs from December to January for a total of 2,412,200 jobs.  Broomfield economist Gary Horvath said that the report shows Colorado’s economy is doing much better than the national economy.
Read article – Denver Post

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Home inventory continued to drop in February

The number of detached single-family residential real estate listings in
the Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley areas dropped dramatically in February
versus the same month a year ago, with median sale price rising.  The
Loveland-Berthoud area saw the greatest increase in median sale price, from
$217,390 in February 2013 to $253,950 this year.  The number of sales
year-to-date, however, has dropped to 183 so far this year, from 203 for the
same period last year.

Read article – Northern Colorado Business Report

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Vacancy rates for Loveland, Greeley and Fort Collins

The apartment vacancy rate in Greeley shot up in the fourth quarter of 2013, the result of new construction and turnover, rose slightly in Loveland and declined in Fort Collins. Fort Collins saw its vacancy rate drop even lower in the fourth quarter after falling by more than half in the third quarter. Fourth-quarter vacancy rates were 2.1%, compared with 2.8% in the third quarter. The vacancy rate was above 5% in the first half of 2013 in Fort Collins.
Read article - Northern Colorado Business Report

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Toward a More Competitive Colorado report released

Toward a More Competitive Colorado report released

Annual benchmark study examines competitive factors related to economic growth

TMCC CoverThe Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) released on Nov. 18, 2013, the ninth edition of Toward a More Competitive Colorado (TMCC), an annual benchmark report of Colorado’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for future job growth and economic expansion.

First published in 2005, TMCC is the foremost effort to compare Colorado’s competitive position against the other 49 states. The study is researched and developed by the Metro Denver EDC’s Chief Economist, Patty Silverstein of Development Research Partners, and is presented in cooperation with Wells Fargo.

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“The good news again is that Colorado continues to rank among the most economically competitive states in the United States in key measures such as job growth, innovation, and technology concentration,” said Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver EDC.

Clark pointed to Colorado’s overall ascent in adding new jobs—ranking fifth highest in the United States for employment growth, a drastic change from its 49th place rank in 2002. In addition, Colorado has regained the No. 2 spot behind Massachusetts for the percentage of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher, making the state highly competitive for attracting companies.

But on a cautionary note, Clark further explained that while Colorado is performing well in attracting jobs and investment to the state, one of its neighboring states and primary economic development competitors—Utah—is surpassing Colorado in areas such as R&D expenditures, high-school dropout rates, and job growth.

“Colorado would be well-served to examine its once economically weak neighbor because Utah is gaining significant ground on our state,” said Clark.

And despite low sales and income tax rates, Colorado’s tax structure remains cumbersome and is potentially making the state less competitive, according to Silverstein.

“A continuing issue for Colorado is its tax structure, and little progress is apparent in making the tax structure more aligned with promoting economic growth,” explained Silverstein.

Notably, Colorado has the lowest state sales tax rate (of states that levy a sales tax); but when local tax burdens are included, the state ranks as having the seventh-highest state and local sales tax burden.

Silverstein highlighted that as a result of continued tax structure challenges, Colorado’s rank in the Tax Foundation’s State Business Tax Climate Index has fallen from 10th in 2007 to 19th in 2013.

Another competitive advantage for Colorado is the health of its residents. Colorado dominates the nation with the lowest obesity rate and the highest level of physical fitness, in addition to taking the No. 2 spot for overall happiness and wellbeing.

TMCC also draws attention to the state’s challenges when it comes to maintaining our highways. According to the benchmark data, Colorado ranked 19th best in 2000 in an analysis of highway performance among the states. Today, Colorado is 10th worst.

“By 2050, Colorado’s Front Range population will surpass five million people—the population of the entire state today,” said Clark. “If new roads and rail are not built, the result will be clogged highways and a distressed environment for our state.”

The ninth edition of TMCC also analyzes Colorado’s place as a global competitor, with new international rankings for available data points.

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