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Colorado Real Estate Blog - Brandy Unruh

Welcome to my Colorado Real Estate Blog! This Blog is dedicated to all things relating to real estate, home improvement, living and improving the quality of life.

Getting down and dirty with HOA’s!

Getting down and dirty with HOA’s!

I had a potential buyer call me about possibly moving to Colorado from another state recently.  The buyer was interested in the Boulder area, wanting to be near shopping, dining, and entertainment.  During that conversation, the buyer said "under no circumstance do I want to live in a community with an HOA."  This stopped me in my tracks.  HOA’s are not always seen in the best light however; communities put them in place to protect you, the home buyer.   I know that in my neighborhood, if it wasn’t for the HOA, there would be dog messes everywhere as that is where a good portion of our dues go (unfortunately).   It seems that in the Boulder/North Denver area that I specialize in, there are so few communities without an HOA and for this reason, I really had to dig deep in my explanation as to why this may be difficult to find the right home in an area without one.   So here are some clarifications on HOA’s with some pros and cons.

What is an HOA? 

A Homeowners Association is an entity that governs an organization in a subdivision, planned community or condominium that makes and enforces rules for the properties in its jurisdiction. HOAs also collect monthly or annual dues to pay for upkeep of common areas like parks, tennis courts, elevators and swimming pools, among other items as well.  They can levy special assessments on homeowners when the association lacks sufficient reserves to pay for unexpected repairs, as well as deliver fines when the homeowner is not following the Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions or CC&R’s as they are commonly referred to.  Without HOA’s in many suburban and urban communities, there would be a lot less to be desired aesthetically and otherwise.  They prevent your neighbor from painting their home undesirable colors like neon green, and the house across the street from leaving the big bunny blow up decoration out year around.   They can often be misunderstood as strict, but often it is to benefit the community as a whole.

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9 Common First Time Home Buyer Questions, and a Few for Every Home Buyer too!


There are many questions that first time home buyers have about the process of buying a home. Often times, the process can seem overwhelming or discouraging. However, buying your first home should be a stress free and enjoyable experience and with the right realtor and information, you can breeze through the process with a little knowledge and preparation. I have helped many first-time home buyers through this process so I compiled a list of common questions that first-time home buyers have to help prepare and buy that first home.

  • 1. What are the steps to purchasing a home?
  • 2. How much can I afford?

This is a very personal question and it is not the same for everyone.  Lenders determine how much you can afford for your mortgage based on your pretax monthly income, existing debts and your mortgage monthly payment using two ratios.  The first ratio is called the front-end ratio and compares how much your mortgage payment will take out of your income. The back-end ratio compares how much your total debt payments will take out of your income. The exact ratios allowed will vary slightly from lender to lender, and a good credit score may permit you to take out more than would ordinarily be allowed.  These ratios have also recently become a little tighter for lenders due to changes made as of January 1st, 2014.  Your best bet is to sit down with a mortgage professional to have your specific situation reviewed.  This will allow you to have the best picture of what is best for you.  I also suggest speaking with more than one lender as rates and fees can vary. 

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6 Steps to De-Clutter your Home without Overwhelming your Brain

Celebrating the New Year usually means resolutions are in full swing.  It is often the time of year we embrace the “out with the old in with the new” attitude.  For me, that means getting rid of clutter so that I can enjoy each room for what it actually is intended for.  For many people the idea of cleaning out those daunting closets, cabinets and drawers can make you want to run and hide under your bed (but you can’t because there are boxes of junk there :).


Here are my top 6 ways to de-clutter your home without overwhelming your brain!

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Helpful Tips on Choosing the Right School for your Child

Being a parent often means having to make choices about things that in the past were just a given.  For example, when it came to sending your child to school “back in the old days” most parents simply sent their child to the school nearest to home…(even if it was  5 miles, uphill, in the snow both ways Wink).  There were few options outside of the closest public school unless you went to a private school or an alternative school.  Now days’ parents have many options, and the ability to choose the right school for your child can be a challenging one.  There are many factors that may determine the best educational choice. For instance, if the child is moving on to the next level (i.e. from grade school to middle school) you may want to choose a school based on the high school proximity as well.  Or, if your child excels in a sport, you may choose a school based on coaching and athletic facilities on campus.  Or if you are planning on moving to a new neighborhood, you may choose a school based on walking distance or on your commute to work.  Either way, doing your homework and asking the right questions will help you narrow down which school is really best for your child and your family. 

Where to begin:

Start by asking what your child’s needs and what the needs of the family are.  Consider what your child’s strengths are and what they may already be showing signs of excelling at.  For example if your child seems to excel in a specific subject such as art or science you may want to steer your focus towards a school that specializes in that type of program.  If your child is quiet, you may want to send them to a school with a smaller class size so they feel less intimidated or more likely to speak up when called upon.

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The Government Shutdown and the Real Estate Market

As with many of the economic influenced areas of the US, the affect of the shutdown on real estate has proven to be mostly fear verses actual harm.  However, there have still been some serious affects that did impact the real estate market.   According to NPR, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors said “This government shutdown, which is an artificial obstacle to the recovery, is clearly not a good thing.  With Colorado also being identified as the 8th hardest hit state by the shutdown, we certainly can say there are some real impacts.” 

Here are a few areas that were hit the hardest by the government shutdown.

  • U.S. department of Agriculture loans.  The USDA provides loans to some buyers in rural and exurban areas, and homes that were close to their closing date were stopped in their tracks, leaving some people without a place to go.  This accounts for about 3% of overall housing, however, here in Colorado USDA does impact us in various parts of the state.
  • IRS and Lenders.  Right now the IRS is operating on a skeleton staff.  This is creating some problems for lenders who are unable to provide the kind of income documentation that is typically normal in order for loans to close.  Many lenders have been easing stringent requirements in order to prevent loans from coming to a stop.  Instead, lenders have been using tax returns and pay stubs and waiting until the IRS is up and running to do the verification. 
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is continuing to process FHA loans on single family homes, although they are running with a reduced staff as well.   As a result there have been some delays, yet most lenders have found ways to overcome these associated hurdles.
  • There are some effects that are causing lenders to use their own capital to service loans. This is because they cannot turn around and sell them to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the two giant government backed mortgage companies) on the secondary market until the shutdown is over.

Fortunately, the areas hit hardest are doing their best to keep the housing market strong, but for how long?  Hopefully the government can resolve their stalemate and avoid any ripple effects as a result of the shutdown.

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Brandy Unruh Real Estate Associate

  Brandy Unruh
  Broker Associate
  Cell: 303.578.6683



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