Feb 10 2010


I know that some of you have tried to subscribe to my blog via RSS, and it has not worked. My apologies, but it is working now. Turns out I had a type in the feed address. Oh well, never said I was perfect.

Much thanks to Angela at Ask WP Girl. Make sure you check out her blog.

Feb 9 2010

2009, A Look Back

Alright, I know that the popular time to look back at the past year and to the future is in early January. But I say better late than never, or that I am not very popular, or that I don’t do anything when I am supposed to. Or I can simply say I have been thinking about this post since early January!

Anyway, 2009 was a pretty wild year, as it was for most people. With the downfall of the economy, and the subsequent collapse of the construction industry, my business (and others in my field) took a huge hit. Beginning in late 2008 and into 2009, I was forced to restructure the entire company and let go all of my full time regular employees, all of which who had been with me for years. That was a very hard thing to do, but it had to be done. Shortly thereafter, we had to abandon our downtown office location since we could no longer afford the rent. Fortunately, with those changes, and the work we did have, we were able to stay afloat.

We also sold our home last year. We were planning on doing it anyway, but moved the time table up about a year. In one of the worst housing markets in recent memory, we were able to get it under contract in 2 months. It didn’t go smoothly, but we were able to get it closed. I blogged about that earlier in the year. So in the end, within a six month period, we moved both our office, and our home. In both cases, we had been in place for 9 years, and in that time, we accumulated a lot of stuff! It is fair to say, we did a lot of downsizing. While it was hard to do, it was also a good thing. There were other ups and downs. We both had extended family issues to deal with as well, so we spent the last half of the year recovering from all that.

Looking forward to 2010, I am fairly optimistic. Business is starting to show some signs of life, and I take comfort in the fact that while the economy is no where close to great shape, the worst is behind us, and we can look forward to better days sooner than later. We are also making plans to build a new energy efficient home. This will be located in Midori in Northwest Fort Collins. We are also looking at the possibility of moving an older historic home. We are also moving ahead with the Midori development with my business partner, and we are getting some renewed interest in it again. I am also formulating plans for migrating my career focus over time and am talking to potential investors on that one. In January, I was also elected as chair of the Fort Collins Landmark Preservation Commission.

By the way, I do plan on blogging about our adventures in building our house. This is not entirely new to us, as I used to be part owner Wildflower Homes, and will likely be building a few homes in Midori as well. We are just beginning the design phase for our home, and will share ideas as we go.

Finally, the owner of one of the other blogs I follow posted that she was going to leave the area, and would be closing down the blog. It is a great blog about historical tidbits of Fort Collins, so I volunteered to take it over. The owner of the blog graciously agreed, so as of this week I have that one too. I do plan on keeping both blogs separate, but there could be some cross posting. Be sure to check it out, Lost Fort Collins.

Aug 14 2009

Feral Houses in Detroit

My wife found this site with several photographs of abandoned buildings in the Detroit area where vegetation has taken over the buildings. It is fascinating look into what nature can do, and a sobering reminder that nature always winds.

Aug 6 2009

Colorado Real Estate, Part II

I thought I would take this moment to update everyone on what has happened since my last post where we stated that the buyers of our home had walked away, after we moved out. Well, two days after that happened, I got an urgent call from my agent saying that the buyers had changed their minds, and were still willing to close. It came out that they buyers didn’t have any issues with the home, but rather they were having issues with each other (blending two families together), and that we were caught in the middle and we paid the price. For all this, we had to do some contract amendments, of which they had the gall to put in it that we had to mow the lawn and pull the weeds.

We had planned on taking all week originally to get the yard in shape, clean the house, do paint touch ups, etc. But when they pulled out, our emotions were high, so we didn’t do much for a couple of days. So now we had less than 24 hours to do everything we were going to do in a week. Well, to get the deal done, and to prevent these people from changing their minds again, we did it. Of course, when they did the final walk through right before closing, they continued to be arrogant. We were not there, but I had my agent there. She told us the lady was literally on her hands and knees in the basement checking for smells, among many other things she did.

In the end, we did close. They had us in seperate rooms, and we never saw each other. I have done dozens of closings, both personal and business, and I have never seen anything like this before. I have always taken pride in the past, and have walked the buyers through the home showing them all the ins and outs of how it works, what the plants in the yard are, etc. Not this time. I wonder if they figured out I turned off the sprinkler system?

What it comes down to, from talking to real estate agents and attorneys, is that Colorado Real Estate law is written totally around protection of the buyers. Buyers can legally walk at any time, and the only thing sellers can get is the earnest money deposit, and have to fight for that! I am all for buyers being able to walk in certain circumstances, such as the home has to appraise properly, the buyer has to get funding, and they must approve the inspection report – for major issues. But being able to walk, simply because a buyer changes their mind should not be able to happen, and in other states it does not happen. This is a contract, and when you enter a contract, you should be expected to complete that contract. Sellers incur a lot of expense in preparing a home for sale, and usually must move out before the home closes, putting themselves at great financial risk. There needs to be protection that buyers simply cannot walk because they changed their mind.

In the end, it all worked out. But we went through the emotional ringer. Now though, we can look forward to moving forwards, settling into our new place, and hopefully building a new home if financing gets easier again.

Jul 29 2009

Colorado Real Estate – A Seller’s Perspective

A few months ago we put our home up for sale. We realize that this isn’t a great market, but the economic realities are forcing us to sell. I am hardly a novice to the real estate market, I have bought and sold several personal residences, as well as bought and sold many lots and new homes. However, Colorado real estate law has slowly changed to dramatically favor the buyers, with few protections to the seller. We actually did get an offer on our home about 5 weeks ago. With a little haggling, we agreed on a selling price, with the buyers offer having no conditions, other than the standard appraisal, home inspection, and loan approval. Right after the offer was accepted they scheduled a home inspection. Of course, this particular insepector was a little overzealous, and caused panic in the buyers and they almost walked then. However, we worked hard with them, and agreed to fix almost everything on the inspection list, most of which was very minor stuff. We also agreed to provide an allowance to have the carpets replaced. They are nine years old, and need it anyway (we are hard on carpeting). So we got througb that, but we wern’t allowed to talk to the sellers directly and work things through. Instead we had to go through our agent (who has been great BTW), and the buyers agent (who has been less than helpful). Anyway, we go through that, then the buyers leave the country for 3 weeks. The appraisal is done, and comes in $15k higher than the asking price, their loan is approved (they are putting 50% down BTW), and we find a new place to move too. Everything is moving forward. The closing was scheduled for this coming Friday the 31st, so we moved out over this past weekend, which would allow us time to get the house cleaned up and in spic and span condition. Of course, the buyeres wanted a walkthrough over the weekend after they got back from their trip, which we refused since we were moving, and it was organized chaos.  Well on Monday they insisted on doing a walkthrough. We said OK, with the understanding that the house was not clean, we had paint touch-ups to do, etc. I was there working on things, though I largely stayed out of their way. We negotiated some last minute minor things ont he spot, and they seemed to be in good spirits.

Then late yesterday I get a call saying they had changed their mind, they didn’t want to buy a house right now (any house), and even let their agent go. WTF? How can a buyer walk 3 days from closing with no viable reason? Where is the protection for the seller? Not only did we spend quit a some reparing things on the house, we leased a new place, moved, spent money on movers, all with the expectation of closing, and they walk? At this point, they should be forced to close. I am definately talking to my attorney today, but my understaing is Colorado law is written to protect buyers at all costs. If this is the case, this has to be changed, there needs to be some real protection for the seller too.

Now we are saddled with a house payment, and a rent payment. With my livlihood tied to the construction industry, the last two years have been awful. When do we catch a break?