Creating a Memorable Garden Combining Form & Function

By Linsey Stonchus

A beautifully done garden extends the livability of a home outdoors, offering wellness benefits, beauty and an overall sense of tranquility.

Creating an unforgettable garden requires a balance of function and form – first considering the necessary must-haves for living, and then plants, art and other elements that enhance the overall space.

“Set up for function first – [clients] see the landscape and the garden as an extension to live in from the interior space,” said Richard Hartlage, founding principal and owner of  Land Morphology, Seattle.

“We don’t do a project without a fire feature these days and, then, dining and the outdoor kitchen,” he said.

Mr. Hartlage has decades of experience in landscape architecture, working on residential and commercial projects from coast-to-coast in the United States. What are some of the latest garden trends he has witnessed?

“All of those functional elements go in first and then we build up that theme with plants,” Mr. Hartlage said.

 

Safe Arbor

Outdoor dining, lounging and kitchens are among the top requests, according to Mr. Hartlage, along with swimming pools or spas for smaller yards.

Frequently requested in the Seattle area are arbors, which extend the usefulness of gardens by a month or two during colder months. Mr. Hartlage often installs heaters and roofs for extended longevity.

“All of those functional elements go in first and then we build up that theme with plants,” Mr. Hartlage said.

“If you have more space, it’s really the plants that then you can expand on, now that you have crossed the threshold of creating the living spaces,” he said.

Currently, popular plants include grasses such as bamboo, calama and hakone.

Particularly popular in Seattle are broadleaf evergreens, holly trees, magnolia trees, camellias, hellebores and pittosporum.

Additionally, Mr. Hartlage notes hedges were not trendy for a long time but are making a return as they act as “the frame that holds the picture” with their crisp lines and structure.

Mr. Hartlage also observed a greater demand in color, both in plants or painted accents, with blue, orange and yellow being among those frequently requested.

The use of color is all about creating a certain ambience, adding a playfulness to the overall design.

Florals, too, ensure a garden offers fragrance, further enhancing the overall atmosphere of the garden.

Activities ranging from swimming to basketball can be prefaced with a pleasant stroll through the garden.

 

Material Changes

In terms of materials, bluestone is a top choice throughout the U.S., whereas concrete is received differently among various regions.

In Seattle, concrete is very popular, while Northeastern clients perceive it as “cheap” and prefer asphalt or gravel.

Where concrete is in high demand, Mr. Hartlage makes the material bolder through distinctive score patterns.

One of the most exciting things to incorporate within a garden of sufficient size is trails.

Trails transform art displays or amenity placements into destinations of their own, rather than positioning everything just outside the home. Mr. Hartlage recommends at least two acres to accomplish this, but preferably more than five.

Activities ranging from swimming to basketball can be prefaced with a pleasant stroll through the garden.

Meanwhile, large art pieces will be better enjoyed individually with plenty of air around it, rather than kept cluttered together.

Mr. Hartlage’s advice is to consider function first: What are the most essential amenities? Where will they fit? How shall the theme relate to these essentials?

Following that, the theme can then be expanded through plants and art, while also taking into consideration the size of the space.

Accents and art should never clutter smaller gardens.

Meanwhile, larger properties can take advantage of acreage through the installation of trails, turning everyday use of a home’s amenities into mini-events.

BALANCING FUNCTION and form is essential to the overall feeling that a garden facilitates.

“You know when a place feels right,” Mr. Hartlage said.

“You can tell if it’s beautiful, that you’re comfortable or inspired,” he said. “You don’t have to be trained in a design tradition. It all holds together.”

 

Property Value Assessments & Appeals 2021

The Boulder County Assessor’s Office has completed its biennial reappraisal of all property in Boulder County. Notices of valuation are mailed to property owners on Saturday, May 1. If you are a homeowner, you should have received yours by now, and it has most certainly gone up in value!

This is based on the upward trend the real estate market has been experiencing, more than usual, for the past two years. However, this does not mean you shouldn’t appeal. Appeals are due by June 1st this year, and can be submitted online, mailed electronically or physically, or faxed.

Every odd year, county assessors in Colorado are required to reassess properties within their jurisdiction and determine the market value for each property as of June 30 of the prior year.  Therefore, this year’s reappraisal cycle is based on market values as of June 30, 2020. 

In Boulder County, there has been a positive change in values for residential properties overall. The median percent increases for residential type properties in this appraisal period is 11%.

For 2021 Reappraisal of Single Family Residences, click Here.

For Boulder County Residential Values, click Here.

If you wish to appeal the determined market value of your home or commercial property, Appeal Your Property Value Here.

Whether you need help researching home value within the above time period, or are wishing to deepen your understanding of how and why this process occurs, please reach out to us via phone at 303-443-3377 or email. We are here to offer you, our neighbors, with any assistance you may need!


 

Top Agent Magazine Features Candace Loving

Top Agent Candace Loving – of Colorado Landmark, Realtors in Boulder, Colorado – is a truly dedicated real estate professional who consistently provides her many clients with the very best customer service possible. Specializing in farms, ranches, land and residential luxury properties, Candace has built an impressive business on a sturdy foundation of honesty, integrity and deep industry knowledge, and has more than earned her reputation as a trusted, caring real estate advocate.

Candace began her journey in the world of real estate in 1990, initially working with her father on some of his development projects prior to taking on her own. After finding great success in that area, Candace obtained her real estate license in 2007, and the rest is history. Serving a wide swath of the Centennial State, Candace can currently claim that the lion’s share of her business is based upon referrals from past clients, positive word of mouth, and her reputation as an expert in the ranch, farm and land sales sector.

“I think it’s because I truly care about my clients,” says Candace, when asked how she has managed to achieve such impressive levels of trust and loyalty amongst those she works with. “I sincerely care, and it’s my compassion for them that really drives me. I think they feel very supported and know that they can count on me to have their best interests at heart. Also, treating people fairly is very important to me.”

In addition to her extensive development, investment, construction and design knowledge that provides her clients with extra value, there are many factors that come into play when assessing Candace’s impressive and ever-growing success story. Chief among them would be her expertise on water rights and title issues as well as negotiating skills and thorough, intelligent marketing strategies that maximize exposure for her many listings, translating into fast sales for top dollar, not to mention happy – returning and referring – clients.

Candace, who hold a perfect, five-star over-all rating on Zillow.com, truly enjoys what she does for a living. “I love helping my clients,” she says. “I love learning new things about the real estate industry, and I like being challenged and being a problem solver for my buyers and sellers.” Just one of many glowing reviews she has received reads in part: “Candace was the perfect agent for me and my situation. She was patient and supportive in the initial stages with my house hunting and decision making when I was still sorting out the best path forward and determining what the best solution was for my needs. When it came time to make an offer, she was extremely responsive which allowed me to secure my dream home in the incredibly competitive Boulder market… I highly recommend Candace.” 

When she’s not busy making her clients happy, Candace enjoys spending time with her daughters and friends, and she enjoys horses and skiing. She also loves to travel, particularly to the south of France.

Looking to the future, Candace’s plans include becoming licensed in Wyoming, and to continue building her already-thriving business. Above all, however, remains her longtime commitment to providing each and every one of her clients with the unparalleled customer service that has long been her calling card.


Candace Loving

REALTOR®

303-332-4530

CandaceLoving@gmail.com


 

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas from Downtown Boulder

Mother’s Day is coming up and after the past year, the moms in your life may need more appreciation than ever before.  In Downtown Boulder, over 70% of our businesses are locally owned and operated. Take advantage of the local stores to find cute and unique gifts that mom will treasure forever. You will not only be showing appreciation for your mom, but also for the many local businesses in downtown Boulder that have also had a tough year.

You can shop in many ways, including buying local online, buying gift cards (Downtown Boulder Gift Card or store-specific), or ordering takeout or delivery from downtown Boulder restaurants. Spread the love this Mother’s Day.  #LoveTheLocal


Planner + Bath Bombs from Haven

Self-care essentials are always a go-to when gift giving. Haven’s planner and bath bombs are a great gift combination to help mom manage any stress in her life.


Mother’s Day Cards from Two Hands Paperie

You can’t go wrong with giving your mom a heartfelt card to show her you care! Two Hands Paperie has a wide selection of cards so that you can find one that speaks right to your mom’s heart.

 


Mini Facial Delight from Rebecca’s Herbal Apothecary & Supply

This gift is the best for moms who need some pampering. The set includes the Precious Face Serum, Meadowsweet Face Serum, Exfoliating Face Scrub & Sweet Honey Scrub.


Bracelet from Starfish Jewelry

A bracelet from Starfish Jewelry is the perfect gift to give your mom to serve as a reminder of your relationship with each other! It looks beautiful, fashionable, and whenever she wears it she will think of you.

 


Wine from West End Wine Shop

A nice bottle of wine is almost always a good gift to give — especially to moms! West End Wine Shop has a large assortment of reds, whites, roses, and even orange wine! Sit down and share a glass while showing love and appreciation for your mom!


Shoes from Pedestrian Shops

Keep your mom feeling fresh and comfortable with a new pair of Birkenstocks from Pedestrian Shops! They spice up almost any outfit and they last for a lifetime.

 


Magnets from Island Farm

These adorable magnets from Island Farm are the perfect way to send a message of appreciation to your mom, while also giving her a gift! They can be used for decoration or practical reasons, and they would look great on any fridge or in any office.


Tea from Ku Cha House of Tea

These little packets of tea from Ku Cha House of Tea are a yummy and affordable gift to give your mom! They look cute and they are easily portable so she can keep them in her purse — just in case she gets a random craving for delicious tea while on-the-go.

 


Face Masks from Bliss

Things are slowly going back to normalcy, but we aren’t fully there yet. Get your mom a cute face mask from Bliss that she can wear during daily activities or while working out (and she will look good doing it)!


Gift Card to St Julien Spa

The St Julien Spa is one of the best ways to get away. Show your mom appreciation by giving her a gift card to the spa that she can use to take care of herself. After all, she did take care of you!


 

Spring Maintenance Checklist

Spring is the perfect opportunity for homeowners to prepare their property for the months to come. Here are tips from Pillar to Post Home Inspectors to get started:

  • Check siding for cracks, peeling or chipped paint, and general wear and tear. Have damaged areas repaired and repainted as needed for lasting protection.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts of debris that collected over the winter.
  • Check patios and walkways for cracks and any loose bricks or pavers. These are a tripping hazard that needs to be corrected promptly.
  • Clean window screens and repair any holes or tears, or replace the screen material.
  • Check around for damaged tree limbs and branches. If a large tree appears to be damaged, be safe and call a professional to address any issues.
  • Inspect the irrigation system for broken sprinkler heads and emitters. Also check for overspray and adjust the system to prevent water waste.

 

Happy Spring Everyone!

 

3 Reasons We’re Definitely Not in a Housing Bubble

from Keeping Current Matters

Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they’re forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.

 

1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited

The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a  sellers’ market  in which prices normally appreciate.

Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.

Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at  1.9 months  – a historic low.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

 

2. This time, housing demand is real

During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The  definition  of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.

The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the  Mortgage Credit Availability Index  (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.

In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.

Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.

 

3. This time, households have plenty of equity

Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out  $824 billion dollars  in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.

Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.

This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau  data,  over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter  2020 U.S. Home Equity Report,  which revealed:

“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”

If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.

 

BOTTOM LINE

This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.


 

Niwot Sidewalk Sale returns on April 17th

One of last year’s favorite Niwot downtown events, the Sidewalk Sale on 2nd Avenue and at Cottonwood Square, is set to return.


“We’ve got a better idea of what people like, what goes, what doesn’t. It’s starting to get a bit of a following and people are actually asking about it now,” said the event’s creator, Deborah Fowler of DRF Realty/Colorado Landmark Realtors.

The Sidewalk Sale is not only coming back, but it is also getting bigger and better. Instead of three dates, there will be six: April 17, May 29, June 26, July 17, Aug. 21, and Sept. 25. Each sale also will have longer hours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a larger number of pop-up vendors will complement what’s being sold in the brick and mortar stores

There will be more music available during each sale day. Performance areas will be set up in front of Pinocchio’s, at The Emporium by Old Oak Coffee, and at The Wheel House on 2nd Avenue as well as at Niwot Market and Niwot Tavern in Cottonwood Square. While the final list of musicians was still being determined at press time, it will include locals such as Thomas Dow and Emma Kieran.

“The main thing that works about it is that we’re adding an extra layer of ambiance to shopping in town,” said Fowler. She also believes the event could expose plenty of out of town guests, including groups that are fans of the musicians.

The Sidewalk Sale was established last year to help retailers during the pandemic, and it proved to be especially valuable. “People were worried about going into enclosed spaces during the pandemic and the event allowed them to visit shops but stay outside.” said Kathy Trauner of the retail store  Fly Away Home.

Trauner appreciated how the sale helped her connect with the public. She was so appreciative that this year, she’s helping Fowler organize it. “One of my best revenue days up to that point was the first sale,” Trauner said. “All of them were such a boon to retailers. A Godsend. Something that people looked forward to.”

Fowler said this year’s event will be organized similarly to 2020’s. Merchandise will be sold on racks and tables in front of the store, and customers who choose to can shop inside as well. Where possible, there will be some outdoor point of sale systems available for shoppers.

As with other events held during the pandemic, state and locally mandated health precautions will be followed. As of press time, Boulder County is at level yellow, which requires no outdoor restrictions at the state level but allows for restrictions to be put in place locally. The county has indicated that masking requirements will remain in place for indoor activity, and requests mask use outdoors when social distancing can’t be maintained.

“We will follow the latest guidelines from Boulder County. Whatever they say, that’s what we’ll do,”Fowler said.


 

Things You Need To Know About Dogs and Home Insurance

Brought to you by Bennett & Porter Wealth Management + Insurance


It’s official: The United States is a country of dog lovers.

According to the American Pet Products Association’s (APPA) 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, nearly 64 million households have dogs for pets, with cats a distant second at 42.7 million.

The popularity of dogs is hardly surprising. After all, they do have many positive effects on their owner’s lives, from the active lifestyle they bring about to the way they relieve stress and anxiety in people.

Still, one can’t help but wonder about the rates dog owners are paying for their home insurance policy—if they even have one. Yes, the dogs you have at home will factor into your home insurance rates.

If you’re planning on getting protection for your home and you own a dog or two or more, here are some things you need to know about dogs and homeowners insurance.

 

Dog Breeds Matter To Insurers

A standard home insurance policy provides you liability coverage. If a visitor suffers an injury while within your property–like getting bitten by your dog–your home insurance policy’s liability coverage will pay for that person’s hospital and medical bills.

Since dogs are generally perceived to present such a risk, it’s perfectly normal for insurance companies to be worried about your four-legged companions. That concern prompts them to take measures designed to protect their interests.

Some insurance providers charge higher premiums for dogs with a genetic predisposition for aggressiveness. Others simply deny home insurance coverage altogether to households with aggressive dogs.

In short, the breed of your dog will dictate your home insurance rates, that is, if your insurer would even consider providing you coverage.

 

Restricted Breeds

Some dog breeds are more aggressive than others. As far as most insurance companies are concerned, the following breeds are on the restricted list:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Chow Chow
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Great Dane
  • Mastiff
  • Pit Bull Terrier
  • Rottweiler
  • Siberian Husky
  • Wolf Hybrid

As restricted breeds, these dogs will either drive up your home insurance rates or get your application for coverage denied.

 

Preventing Dog Bites

Let’s assume that you were fortunate enough to get home insurance coverage regardless of the breed of your dog, and at a reasonable rate at that.

As much as possible, you should take steps that will help you avoid dog bite incidents in the future. While your home insurance coverage will pay for the bite victim’s medical expenses, the subsequent liability claim could cause your insurance premiums to skyrocket.

Worse, liability claims triggered by dog bites could also force your insurance company to deny you coverage moving forward.

To prevent that from happening, you should take precautions to reduce or eliminate the possibility of dog bite incidents, like:

  • Spaying or neutering your dog to reduce aggressiveness
  • Keeping your dog on a leash, especially when you have guests
  • Not letting random strangers on the street come up and pet your dog
  • Respecting your dog’s space, especially when eating
  • Socializing your dog
  • Signing up for dog obedience school

 

There Are Dog-Friendly Insurance Companies

Fortunately for many dog owners, there are insurers that don’t discriminate against dog breeds. These companies—some of them among the biggest ones in the industry—will consider providing coverage for any breed after taking into account the specific dog’s history and behavior.

It is also not unheard of for insurance companies to ask for a meet and greet with the dogs themselves for assessment.

To find out if the home insurance provider you’re eyeing is dog-friendly, talk to a representative or agent, and be as honest as possible about the dogs you own.

 

Market Updates & Listing Outreach from CLR Agent Phil Booth

We are in a VERY UNIQUE WINDOW right now, which reinforces that there may not be a better time to sell than the second quarter of 2021!

We are currently in an extremely strong sellers market.  There is very little housing inventory (low supply) and an abundance of buyers (high demand).   This situation is a direct reflection of concerns around COVID and super low mortgage interest rates.  These factors are colliding to create a ‘perfect storm’ for sellers.

To explain concisely, there are two forces at play:

1. SUPPLY (SELLERS) – There are many would be sellers who have chosen to hold tight over the past year and not sell because of COVID.  They simply do not want to open their homes up to buyers!  As such, we have had and continue to have historically low inventory.

2. DEMAND (BUYERS) – There is super high buyer demand based on COVID… there is a dramatic influx of people moving from denser population centers to the area, there are many people who, having spent more time than ever at home over the past 12 months, have realized that their current home does not meet their needs  Couple these factors with the fact that money is ‘cheap’ at present… people looking to capitalize on historically low interest rates.

THE RESULT.  When properties come onto the market that are well prepared, well presented, and well priced, we are seeing extremely high showing demand and multiple offers, at well above asking price.   This phenomenon is causing rapid appreciation.  In the last 12 months in Boulder County we have seen appreciation of up to 20% for single family homes and 10% for attached dwellings.  And, this pattern is continuing stronger than ever here in 2021, with 2% appreciation per month in certain areas and price points!

However, this supply and demand imbalance is likely to balance out in the second half of 2021. WHY?

1. SUPPLY – As we see higher vaccination rates (hopefully by mid summer) home owners will feel less wary about COVID and will feel more comfortable about selling, and will be HIGHLY motivated to realize the rapid appreciation they have seen in their homes.

2. DEMAND – We are likely to see interest rates creep up, which will cause buyer demand to wane somewhat.

It is still promise to remain a Sellers’ market, but not to the degree of imbalance we are seeing at present.

Hence, the second quarter of 2021 is a fantastic opportunity to sell and realize the benefits of  THE PERFECT STORM!

Phil Booth

REALTOR®

303-817-8307

Phil@ColoradoLandmark.com

 

Landmark Moment: SRQ Magazine Features CLR Agent Anja Deichmann

At Colorado Landmark, Realtors, we recognize that each home, buyer, and seller has a unique story, as do our agents that represent them. CLR agent Anja Deichmann is no exception: she is a top agent that splits her time between Sarasota, Florida and Boulder, offering her clients a diverse and dynamic perspective when it comes to finding the perfect place to call “home.”

Click  here  to read SRQ’s entire feature on Anja in the magazine’s latest digital publication, which can be found on page 3.