Northern Colorado and More

Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible?

By: Leanne Potts

The answer to whether closing costs are tax deductible — or mortgage interest and property taxes for that matter — is often maddeningly, “It depends.”

Basically, you’ll want to itemize if you have deductions totaling more than the standard deduction, which for 2021 is $12,550 for single people and $25,100 for married couples filing jointly. Every taxpayer gets this deduction, homeowner or not. And most people take it because their actual itemized deductions are less than the standard amount.

But will you have enough deductions to itemize?

To see, you need to know what’s tax deductible when buying or owning a house. Here’s the list of possible deductions:

Closing Costs

The one-time home purchase costs that are tax deductible as closing costs are real estate taxes charged to you when you closed, mortgage interest paid when you settled, and some loan origination fees (a.k.a. points) applicable to a mortgage of $750,000 or less.

But you’ll only be able to benefit from them if all your deductions total more than the standard deduction.

Costs of closing on a home that aren’t tax deductible include:

  • Real estate commissions
  • Appraisals
  • Home inspections
  • Attorney fees
  • Title fees
  • Transfer taxes
  • Mortgage refi fees

Mortgage interest and property taxes are annual expenses of owning a home that may or may not be deductible. Continue reading to learn more about those.

Mortgage Interest

Yearly, you can write off the interest you pay on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. Most homeowners don’t have mortgages large enough to hit the cap, says Evan Liddiard, CPA, director of federal tax policy for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. But people who live in pricey places like San Francisco and Manhattan, or homeowners anywhere with hefty mortgages, will likely reach the maximum mortgage interest deduction.

Note: The $750,000 cap affects loans taken out after Dec. 16, 2017. If you have a loan older than that and you itemize, you can keep deducting your mortgage interest on debt up to $1 million. But if you refi that loan, you can only deduct the interest on the amount up to the balance on the day you refinanced – you can’t take extra cash and deduct the interest on the excess.

Home Equity Loan Interest

You can deduct the interest on a home equity loan or a second mortgage. But — and this is a big but — only if you use the proceeds to substantially improve your house, and only if the loan, combined with your first mortgage, doesn’t add up to more than the magic number of $750,000 (or $1 million if the loans were existing as of Dec. 15, 2017).

If you use a home equity loan to pay medical bills, go to Paris, or for anything but home improvement, you can’t deduct the interest.

State and Local Taxes

You can deduct state and local taxes you paid, including property and income taxes (or sales taxes in states where there is no income tax), up to $10,000. That’s a low cap for people who live in places where state and local taxes are high, says Liddiard. To give you an idea of how low: The average amount New Yorkers have taken in state and local tax deductions in past years is about $22,000.

Loss From a Disaster

You can write off the cost of damage to your home if it’s caused by an event in a federally declared disaster zone, like areas in Florida after Hurricane Michael or Shasta County, Calif., after a rash of wildfires.

This means standard-variety disasters like a busted water pipe while you’re on vacation or a fire caused because you left the toaster on aren’t deductible.

Moving Expenses

This deduction is also only for some. You can deduct moving expenses if you’re an active member of the armed forces moving to a new station.

And by the way, no matter who you are, if your employer pays your moving expenses, you’ll have to pay taxes on the reimbursement. “This will be a real hardship to many because it’s non-cash income,” says Liddiard.  Some employers may gross up the reimbursement amount to provide cash to pay the tax, but many likely will not.

Home Office

This is a deduction you don’t have to itemize. You can take it on top of the standard deduction, but only if you’re self-employed. If you are an employee and are working from home during the pandemic, you can no longer write off home office expenses. You claim the deduction on Schedule C.

Related: 2 Ways to Claim Home Office Expenses

Student Loans

Anyone paying a mortgage and a student loan payment will be happy to hear that the interest on your education loan is tax deductible on top of the standard deduction (no need to itemize). And you can deduct as much as $2,500 in interest per year, depending on your modified adjusted gross income.

Ways to Increase Your Eligible Deductions

There are some other costs that can be itemized not related to being a homeowner that could bump you up over the standard deduction. This might allow you to write off your mortgage interest. Charitable contributions and some medical expenses can be itemized, although medical expenses must exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

So if you’ve had a hospital stay or are generous, you could be in itemized-deduction land.

Also, if you’re a single homeowner, it could be easier for you to exceed the standard deduction, Liddiard says. The itemized deductions on your house will probably more quickly break the $12,550 standard deduction threshold than a couple’s similar house will break their $25,100 threshold.

Tax-Savvy Home-Buying Ideas

If you’re a prospective homeowner with an eye to making the most efficient use of your tax benefits, here are a few ways to buy smart:

  • Especially in expensive areas, buy a less expensive home so you don’t hit the cap on mortgage debt and local and property taxes, says Lisa Greene-Lewis, a CPA and tax expert for TurboTax.
  • If you’re buying a higher price home, make a bigger down payment so your original mortgage doesn’t exceed the $750,000 cap.

How to Decide If You Can Itemize

To see whether you have enough deduction to itemize, plug your numbers into this clever tool from TurboTax, and you’ll get their recommendation in just a few seconds.

Though every homeowner’s tax benefits will be a little different, in the end, you’re building equity, you’ll likely make money when you sell, and you have the freedom to paint your walls any color you want and get a dog.

What is the Best Time to Buy a House?

By: Danie Bortz | Published: April 18, 2019

Timing determines so much when you’re buying a house. Although the best time to buy a house is when you’re ready both financially and emotionally, there are other factors that can help you decide when to buy a house.

By timing your purchase just right, you can nab a great home that’s just right for you.

What Is the Best Month to Buy a House?

Let’s make this clear: There’s no such thing as a guaranteed “best month” to purchase a home. (C’mon, we never said this would be easy!)

While some conventional wisdom says there is a best time of year to buy a house — during spring home buying season (April to June) — there are pluses and minuses when it comes to what month you choose to purchase a home.

(Note: Realestate is local. Determining a best time utlimately depends on conditions in your local market.)

Here we’ve outlined some of the reasons different months can turn out to be the best time to buy a house for you:

January to March. Winter isn’t such a bad time to buy a house. Though there’s less inventory — meaning there are fewer homes for sale — there are fewer home buyers too, so you have less competition. That means there’s a lower likelihood of a bidding war, which can be a stressful experience for home buyers. Another benefit of buying a house during the cold-weather months: Home prices are typically the lowest they’ll be all year.

Still, there are drawbacks to buying a house between January and March. Inclement weather can also be a challenge, since snow or ice could make it difficult to drive around and view homes or do a thorough home inspection of some elements, such as a roof. 

April to June. Welcome to spring home buying season— the peak months for not only housing supply, but also the number of home buyers shopping for houses. Because most families want to move when the kids are out of school, there’s a big incentive to buy a house this time of year, since many home buyers need to allow 30 to 60 days for closing.

The warmer weather also makes open houses more enjoyable, landscaping easier to evaluate, and inspections more comprehensive.

Even though it’s generally regarded as the best time of year to buy a house, there are downsides to the spring market. For starters, you’ll face more competition from other home buyers —  meaning you have to move quickly when a great listing hits the market. Bidding wars are a lot more common, you tend to have less negotiating power, and home prices tend to tick up during spring.

July to September. If you can handle the heat (and a little competition), summer may be the one of the best times of year to buy. Now that the spring home buying craze is over, most home prices return to normal, allowing you to save some money. The sunniest time of the year also makes being outdoors and attending open houses more enjoyable.

The hot temperatures also give home buyers the opportunity to test how well a property’s air conditioning system holds up in warm weather, which is something they can’t usually test during other times of the year.

October to December. The main downside of buying a house in autumn is that there may not be as many homes for sale in the fall as there are in the spring. But it’s not like the market goes completely quiet.

Many home buyers consider fall the best time of year to buy a house because of price reductions. Because home sellers tend to list their homes in the spring, sellers whose houses haven’t sold yet may be motivated to find buyers, and prices start to reflect that.

When Is the Best Time in Your Life to Buy a House?

There’s no magical age or life stage at which you’ll know for sure exactly when to buy a house. There are, however, a few factors you’ll want to take into account.

Finances. How’s your credit score? Can you afford to take on a monthly mortgage payment? Do you have enough cash to pay for a down payment and closing costs? Sit down with a mortgage lender who can help you evaluate your finances.

You’ll also need to budget for home maintenance expenses. One rule of thumb says homeowners should set aside 1% to 3% of their home’s purchase price a year for home maintenance and repairs. So, if your home cost $400,000, you’d set aside at least $4,000 annually. (Doing preventative maintenance, however, can go a long way toward staving off expensive repairs.)

Stability. If you’re on solid ground financially, with a stable job to support you, buying a home can be a way to lower your monthly housing costs (real talk: Owning is often cheaper than renting in some cities), gain a valuable financial asset, and, if you itemize, reap some tax benefits.

If you’re ready to commit to a home and city (and your job) for a few years, you’re probably in a stable enough situation to be a homeowner.

Lifestyle: Owning a house allows you to develop a strong relationship with a local community. Buying a home should align with your life goals. If you’re starting a family soon, planting your roots in a kid-friendly neighborhood with a great school district is usually a good reason to buy a house. 

There’s also something to be said about the pride of owning a home and having a place you can call yours — one that you can customize to your heart’s desire.

Should You Buy or Rent?

To rent or to buy a home — it’s a common conundrum. Often this is the core financial decision potential home buyers wrestle with when deciding when to buy a house. To sort it out, start with your exit plan.

If you expect to be moving within the next couple of years, you probably should rent. Why? Because the general rule is it only makes sense to buy if you plan to stay in the home for at least two to three years.

Likewise, if you’re not ready to take on the maintenance responsibilities of being a homeowner, or aren’t ready to commit to a particular community right now, renting an apartment likely makes more sense than buying a home.

The local housing market is also a factor in the decision to buy or rent. In some cities, renting can be cheaper than owning, though price appreciation often brings wealth to buyers. Therefore, the financial benefits of owning a home and gaining equity over time is a better way to spend your money than forking it over to a landlord.

Investing vs. Living

The best time to buy a house for the first time is generally when you’re ready to live there long term. Long term, real estate can be a lucrative path towards financial success, particularly if you can nab a low interest rate in the right housing market.

But a lot of factors go into whether buying an investment property is the right move for you, including how much risk you can tolerate and the local economy.

Generally, it’s smart to consider your first home purchase all about you. It’s about investing in a place you can make your own and live your life day to day. 

The moral? There’s nothing quite like home ownership. While not everyone is ready for it, if you’ve determined the best time to buy a house is right now, it can be the beginning of the most satisfying journey of your life.

What I’m Reading

At the beginning of this year, I set a goal to read 18 books. With a baby and a busy work schedule January didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. But I wasn’t going to let a slow start get me down.

I started out 2021 reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I’m still reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It’s a great book and I’ve enjoyed reading it. Physically reading a book is just taking me a bit longer than normal. I actually recommended the book to my Nana, who is already finished reading it! Since reading was taking so long, I decided to replace my podcast listening for a while with audiobooks.

Man. This was a game changer!

So far, I’ve listened to Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, and I’m currently listening to Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton.

If you’re into the classics, I highly recommend this version of Wuthering Heights. Performed by Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey, the audio flows effortlessly and the listener is truly transported to a different time and place. I have to admit that I did speed up the audio about halfway through. I have a feeling I’ll be doing this often, because while I enjoy drifting away into a good book, I’m also pretty impatient.

Start with Why was my business book for the month of February. After listening to the audio book, I also listened to his episode on Brené Brown’s podcast, Dare to Lead. The two coupled together helped me put together my “why”. The book itself was more corporate than I anticipated, but the lessons can be applied personally and professionally, even if you’re not running a Fortune 500 company.

And finally, Next Year in Havana. I’m holding on to my critique of this book until I’m finished. I have about 4 hours left. Recently I watched Cuba and the Camera Man on Netflix and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The perspective of this documentary, paired with the experiences shared in the book are quite striking. There is so much I don’t know about Cuba and both the documentary and the book are making me want to know more.

What do you think should be next on my list to read or listen to? I have quite a ways to go to get to my goal 🙂

5 Questions to Ask When Buying a Home

By: HouseLogic | Published: January 8, 2020

Home buying seems simple enough: Find a house you like that’s close to work or school, tell someone you want to buy it, and move in. 

But there’s more to it than that. You’ll have to find and get approved by a lender who will let you borrow a few hundred thousand dollars, lock in a mortgage rate, figure out how much house you can afford, put in an offer that will entice the seller, get an inspection and an appraisal, pay closing costs and sign a whole bunch of paperwork. 

Phew! We need a break just thinking about all the questions to ask when buying a house.

Your real estate agent can help you understand the process. But if you don’t ask questions or get your agent to clarify something you don’t understand, they’re not going to know you’re confused. And you won’t learn anything. 

“There are no such things as stupid questions,” says REALTOR® Ryan Fitzgerald in Raleigh, N.C. “If you have a question, ask it, no matter how foolish it sounds in your own head.” 

Don’t be afraid. Ask away. You’re making one of the biggest financial transactions of your life, so it’s a good idea to tap into your agent’s expertise.

Here are some questions to ask a real estate agent when buying a house. 

1. How Many Clients Have You Helped Purchase Homes?

Before you pick a real estate professional, ask them how many clients they’ve worked with to find a home. Your real estate agent is supposed to be an expert, so one with a lot of experience will be a big help to a newbie home buyer like you. 

That’s not to say a newly licensed agent can’t be a good one. But agents learn on the job. The more sales they’ve completed, and the more people they’ve helped buy a home, the more wisdom they have to share with you. 

2. How Old Is The HVAC, Water Heater, And Roof Of This Home?

It’s easy to be dazzled by 12-foot ceilings, crown molding, and other aesthetic features, but you need to pay attention to the nuts and bolts of the house. We’re talking the unsexy stuff like the HVAC system, water heater, roof, electrical system, and plumbing.

“Knowing the age and condition of the major items will help you gauge how much your home could potentially cost once you move in,” Fitzgerald says. “The older the home, the more likely you are to have higher maintenance costs.” 

These items could have more impact on a home’s value than quartz countertops or hardwood floors, because it’s expensive when they malfunction. A leaking hot water heater can do thousands of dollars of damage. And replacing an aging HVAC system can start at more than $5,000, putting it in the major expense category. 

3. What If The Home Inspection Reveals Major Issues?

We won’t lie: The home inspection is one of the most nerve-wracking days of the homebuying process. It’s when you find out about every wart on the place you fell in love with at the showing. 

Most of the time the inspection goes as expected. But if you aren’t expecting a major issue and the inspector discovers something awful like a rusting sewer main or walls full of termites, it can be panic attack time.

Breathe. “What should I do when the inspector has bad news?” is one of the most common questions to ask when buying a house. Talk to your agent. 

Your agent can calm you down so you can plan your next move, whether it’s “Let’s kiss this money pit of a house goodbye” or “Let’s negotiate with the seller and get those repairs done so you can close on time.” 

4. What Happens If The Appraisal Comes Back Low? 

In competitive markets where there are more buyers than sellers, it’s possible to end up in a bidding war over a house. This can drive the sales price higher than the appraised value of the home. Lenders balk when the price is higher than the value, and this can jam up the deal.

Ask your agent what you should do if the appraisal comes in low. An experienced agent will have been in the situation before and have good advice. You’ll have a couple of options, including ordering a second appraisal, covering the difference in cash, or walking away from the deal. 

No matter what happens, keep your cool. Just because the appraisal is low doesn’t mean the deal will fall through. 

“When things don’t go as expected, it’s important to remain level-headed. You never want to allow your emotions to be too up or too down when buying a home,” Fitzgerald says. 

5. What Do We Need To Do To Prepare For Closing?

Closing day is essentially the transfer of ownership, but it’s not just a formality. It needs to go well. This is when you sign the final paperwork and get the keys to the house.

One of the most important questions to ask a real estate agent is exactly what you need to bring for the big day. You’ll probably need your ID, a check for the closing costs, and proof of homeowner’s insurance. 

Asking in advance will keep you organized and help your first big real estate transaction run smoothly. You don’t want to get there and realize you forgot a key piece of paperwork that keeps the deal from closing. Fewer things are as disappointing than not going home from a closing with keys to your new house.

So ask questions. Knowledge is power, so there are no silly questions to ask when buying a house.

What You Need to Know for Winter House Hunting

While house hunting in the winter was never really a thing of the past, today’s culture keeps things going year-round – which means finding a home can be done at any time of the year. While exploring in the cold might be your focus or concern, house-hunting in less-than-ideal conditions can show you things you can’t always see on a warm, sunny day. Here are some things to keep in mind as you try to find a home before the holidays.

Winter Weather Can Help You See Hidden Flaws

Even if you don’t love the cold and snowy weather, it can help you see household flaws that you may not see in the warmth of summer. Maybe the windows are drafty or there is a major loss in privacy when the trees are bare from the cold. It will also help you to love your home for its’ bones, and only love it more when warmer seasons arrive bringing flowers, grass, and colorful foliage.

Photos Can Help Fill In The Blanks

It can be hard to picture what a poolside oasis looks like when it is covered in snow. This is where photos can save the day. Whether they are listing photos or images from previous owners, seeing certain parts of the home in better weather may check the final box for a home you are falling in love with.

Know How To Handle Features Unavailable In The Winter

If that pool you fell in love with isn’t operational in the winter, you should request that they leave money in escrow or extend the closing time frame so that you can inspect the pool when warm weather returns. Sellers are responsible for remedying any issues unless they provide a disclosure about some part of the pool not working.What y

Visit Fort Collins Itinerary – Water Recreation

Fort Collins has something for just about anyone and conveniently Visit Fort Collins has suggested itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re new to town, have someone visiting or want to rediscover this awesome town, check out the Visit Fort Collins website. See below for their Wet and Wild Recreation itinerary.

Cool off in Fort Collins during the summer with the abundant amount of water recreation available. The nearby Cache la Poudre River, Horsetooth Reservoir and surrounding bodies of water provide plenty of opportunities to kayak, raft, stand-up paddle board, swim, boat and more.

Jump into Horsetooth Reservoir

One of the best places to spend a sunny summer afternoon is on Fort Collins’ own Horsetooth Reservoir, located on the west side of town along the foothills of our local mountains. This popular summer destination offers 6.5 miles of water recreation opportunities from boating to Stand Up Paddling.

Raft the Cache la Poudre River

The Poudre River offers water recreation in a gorgeous mountain setting. This 126-mile-long river is Colorado’s only National Wild and Scenic River and offers excellent views of the surrounding Poudre Canyon and great recreation. While water is high, early in the season, the whitewater rafting is top class and when the water runs low, in the late summer season, Fly Fishing is at its best. Enjoy these two water recreation activities and stay cool all summer long in Fort Collins.

City Park Pool

City Park is one of Fort Collins’ oldest parks and is an iconic part of Fort Collins. It is the perfect place to enjoy a summer day with recreational activities, playgrounds galore, ball parks, a lake and of course a city pool! After a long day playing out in the sun make sure to cool off in the lake or pool!

Dodge Jumping Fountains in Oak Street Plaza

Oak Street Plaza is located in the heart of Downtown Fort Collins and is one of many places where art meets functionality around town. Here you can cool off during the summer in the plaza fountains. Let the kids loose and watch as they run through the shooting water cannons and play on the beautiful interactive art sculptures that spit streams of water. For those not playing in the water, enjoy the art in public places exhibited around the plaza and maybe even a picnic in one of the shaded areas.

Chill Out at the Old Town Splash Pad

The iconic Old Town Square is a great place to bring the kids to cool off. The square features a jumping fountain feature that kids love to run through to cool off. Kids aren’t the only ones having fun, however. Adults and dogs also love to run in between the fountains as gleefully as the little ones.

Spring Canyon Park

Spring Canyon Park features inspiration playground which is an adaptive playground that has proven to be one of the most popular spots in Fort Collins. The water feature lives next to the playground and can be activated by three black touch sensors that are located on the floor of the splash pad. These sensors cause water to jump from spot to spot and shoot into the air; much to the delight of all the kids at play.

Fossil Creek Park

Fossil Creek Park is one of the largest community parks in Fort Collins. The park has so many different amenities, but one of the most popular is the water feature. It has a waterfall for all to splash through, and tons of dancing water spouts. It is located right by the lake at the water’s edge, with large boulders and natural features, making it feel as if it’s a part of the lake.

 

Visit Fort Collins Itinerary – Family Fun Outdoors

Fort Collins has something for just about anyone and conveniently Visit Fort Collins has suggested itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re new to town, have someone visiting or want to rediscover this awesome town, check out the Visit Fort Collins website. See below for their Family Fun Outdoors itinerary.

Day 1

Breakfast at Silver Grill Cafe

The Silver Grill is the oldest restaurant in Northern Colorado, serving legendary breakfast and lunch dishes daily. Wooden floors, huge windows looking out into Old Town, and famous cinnamon rolls give this charming restaurant a special place in the heart of Fort Collins. A perfect pick to be on the Fort Collins Foodie Itinerary.

218 Walnut St
(970) 484-4656
www.silvergrill.com

The Farm at Lee Martinez Park

The Farm at Lee Martinez Park introduces kids to agricultural heritage by letting them meet farm animals up close; ponies are available for rides in the summer.

600 N Sherwood
(970) 221-6665
www.fcgov.com/recreation/the-farm-lee-martinez-park

Horsetooth Reservoir

Spend the afternoon soaking up the sun and cooling off in the water at Horsetooth Reservoir. This 7 mile long body of water offers tons on inlets and coves to explore and recreational fun for the whole family including stand up paddling, kayaking, boating, fishing, swimming and more. Check out the Inlet Bay Marina or Mountain SUP to rent your gear!

Old Town Shopping

Stroll down the streets of Old Town Fort Collins and enjoy the unique boutiques and local stores. Science Toy Magic, Nature’s Own, and Clothes Pony and Dandelion Toys are favorites for the younger crowd, featuring toys, gadgets and trinkets for the creative mind.

Dinner at Austin’s American Grill

Austin’s American Grill is the place to go if you want to experience what the taste of Colorado is all about. This local Fort Collins favorite is the “go to” for many when looking for a five-star, superior meal at a reasonable price. Terrific outdoor dining paired with dishes such as Prime rib, rotisserie chicken, ribs, Northwest grilled salmon, garlic mashed potatoes make for a delicious night. Not to mention, they have a great happy hour everyday as well.

Day 2

Breakfast at Vern’s Place

Homestyle food served up in a family-friendly atmosphere since 1946. Known for its world famous cinnamon roll, Vern’s Place is that authentic down-home, family-style type of place.

4120 Co Rd 54G, LaPorte CO
(970) 482-5511
vernsplace.com

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

This 5,000 sq ft exhibit space marries science and history in a hands-on learning environment for all ages. Housed inside of the museum is the OtterBox Digital Dome which is the most technologically advanced digital dome and exhibit experience in Northern Colorado.

408 Mason Ct
(970) 416-2236
Fcmod.org

Bike Ride on the Poudre River Trail

The Poudre River Trail is one of Fort Collins’ many paved bike/pedestrian trails that link nature and commuting. This trail meanders along the Poudre River for 10.10 miles from the Western foothills to the Eastern Plains of Fort Collins. Learn how to use Fort Collins’ bike share program Pace to rent a bike.

Grab lunch at Snack Attack for a picnic at City Park

City Park is a beautiful local park that includes a large pond, walking paths, and expansive green grass plots. It is a perfect place to enjoy Fort Collins’ beauty while enjoying a nice picnic lunch.

140 North College Avenue
(970) 482-6913
http://www.fcgov.com/parks/finder/city-park

Enjoy one of Fort Collins’ finest sandwich shops. Snack Attack’s menu is freshly crafted with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, organic produce (where possible) and soft, plump breads! The sandwich shop also offers over 40 local craft brews!

120 W Stuart St
(970) 825-5989
https://www.snackattackit.com/

White Water Rafting on the Poudre River
(7 and up)

The Cache la Poudre River is Colorado’s first and only designated national Wild and Scenic River. You get a thrilling whitewater rafting experience in a pristine and protected environment. Your guides and outfitters will go over safety precautions before heading out on the water. Find a list of outfitters here.

OR

Horseback Riding at Beaver Meadow Stables(All Ages)

Enjoy a ride through Red Feather Lakes, just northwest of Fort Collins. Beaver Meadow Stables strives to make their Horse Back Riding experience different from the rest by offering small group rides (sometimes just your family) so that they can accommodate individual riding skills. The thick mountain terrain and beautiful scenery will take your breath away give you a thrilling ride. The little ones can enjoy pony rides at Beaver Meadow Stables as well.

100 Marmot Drive, Unit 15
Red Feather Lakes, CO 80545
(970) 232-8326
beavermeadowsstables.com

Dinner at Stuft: A Burger Bar

Stuft a Burger Bar is the perfect burger joint for those looking for a limitless amount of toppings. This unique restaurant allows you to become a burger artist where you can choose everything from your type of meat, bun, toppings and sauces. If you’re looking for something a little more daring than build-your-own, try their Chile Relleno Burger, decorated with diced jalapenos, lime cilantro crema, and cheese-filled poblano chiles. Stuft is local to Northern Colorado and was started in Fort Collins by two Colorado State University graduates.

210 S College Ave
970-484-6377
www.stuftburgerbar.com

Visit Fort Collins Itinerary – Fort Collins History

Fort Collins has something for just about anyone and conveniently Visit Fort Collins has suggested itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re new to town, have someone visiting or want to rediscover this awesome town, check out the Visit Fort Collins website. See below for their Fort Collins History itinerary.

In 1862, Camp Collins was built by the ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry to protect travelers and settlers along the Colorado branch of the Overland Trail. A flood in June 1864 sent the soldiers to higher ground near present-day Old Town where a small business district formed.

Later that same year, Elizabeth, “Auntie” Stone arrived at Camp Collins. She and her husband Judge Lewis Stone opened a mess hall for the soldiers. For an entire year, Elizabeth Stone was the only European-American woman in the camp and the soldiers and officers stationed there nicknamed her Auntie Stone. Sadly, Judge Stone passed away only two years later, leaving his widow to run the business by herself.

Auntie Stone was a driving force in building the community of Fort Collins. She expanded the mess hall, creating the first hotel in the city. She also encouraged her niece Elizabeth Parke Keays to move to Fort Collins and start the first school in one of the rooms in Auntie Stone’s cabin. The colony movement helped Fort Collins get its start.

Quick Facts:

  • According to legend, French Fur Trappers gave the Cache La Poudre River its name after being trapped by an awful snowstorm in the 1820s. According to the story, the fur trappers lightened their load by burying their goods, which included large amounts of gunpowder (poudre), in a hiding place (cache) near the mouth of the river along the banks. This is how the river became known as the Cache La Poudre River. Most residents and visitors today refer to the river that runs through downtown Fort Collins as simply “The Poudre.”
  • The Colorado Central Railroad arrived in 1877, and Fort Collins became a thriving agricultural center.
  • The Agricultural College of Colorado was founded in 1870. The school first opened its doors to students in 1879 with President Elijah Edwards and two faculty members. The school was renamed Colorado State University in 1957.

A trip through Fort Collins History

DAY 1

Check in at The Armstrong Hotel

Restored in 2004, it is the last operating historic hotel in downtown Fort Collins. With its charming early 20’s architecture and design it feels as if you’ve taken a trip back in time. Enjoy the comfort and long standing history of the Armstrong Hotel.

259 South College Ave
(970) 484-3883
www.thearmstronghotel.com

Take a tour of 1883 Water Works

1883 Water Works is Fort Collins’ first ever public works project. This property is located at the foothills immediately west of Fort Collins where the historic Overland Trail runs right through the middle of the 23-plus acre site.

2005 N Overland Trail
(970) 221-0533
poudrelandmarks.org/water-works/

Ghost Sign Self-Guided Tour

Placed throughout Old Town Fort Collins are ghost signs created in the past and preserved into modern day. Pick up a Fort Collins Visitors Guide to find a list of all 10 Old Town Ghost Signs and explore the area while discovering its history through these signs. Historic Walking Tour If you’re looking for ways to explore Old Town but only have a limited amount of time, take the one hour historic walking tour. Visit historic buildings that have been beautifully preserved through the years and learn what their function was in the past. From historic hospitals to the city’s oldest restaurant, this tour will show you a whole new side to Old Town.

Dinner at CooperSmith’s Pub and Grill

As Fort Collins’ first breweries, Coppersmith’s has been serving fine food and fine beer for over 20 years. Enjoy patio dining at its finest and the hustle and bustle of Old Town Square.

5 Old Town Square
(970) 498-0483
www.coopersmithspub.com

Fort Collins Ghost Tour

This Fort Collins Tour will take you on a thrilling trip through Old Town where you will learn the history of Fort Collins and its bone chilling past. The newest tour they offer is the Horse & Buggy Ghost Tour where you will not only learn about the history of Old Town but you will also get a chance to explore the haunted sites around town. If you’re ready for a bone-chilling historic experience, Fort Collins Tours is definitely the way to go.

(970) 372-1445
www.fortcollinstours.com

Drinks at the Town Pump

This bar is Fort Collins’ smallest and oldest bar and even though it has a dive bar feel, it is very popular amongst the locals. The bar has been in existence since February 24, 1909 and has been through a history of bootlegging, prohibition and being the first bar in the world to serve New Belgium’s Fat Tire. Enjoy the history lingering in (and on) the walls of this historic bar.

124 N. College Ave
(970) 493-4404

DAY 2

Breakfast at the Silver Grill Café

The Silver Grill is the oldest restaurant in Northern Colorado, serving legendary breakfast and lunch dishes daily. Wooden floors, huge windows looking out into Old Town, and famous cinnamon rolls give this charming restaurant a special place in the heart of Fort Collins.

218 Walnut St
(970) 484-4656
www.silvergrill.com

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

The FCMOD is Fort Collins’ newest museum and it features a fun and interactive environment for all ages. Mixed perfectly within this one large museum is science, discovery and history so that everyone can find something they’re interested in. This museum is a great way to explore the history of Fort Collins and its origins from late pre-historic periods to current day. Find Folsom points found at the Lindenmeier Site near Fort Collins, settler history and more in this hands-on exhibit!

408 Mason Ct
(970) 221-6738
fcmod.org

Hike in Soapstone Prairie

This 28-square mile Natural Area is located just north of Fort Collins and is a conservation area for many species and their natural habitat in Northern Colorado. Soapstone Prairie is also home to the famous Lindenmeier Site, a Folsom archeological site. The site contains the most extensive Folsom culture campsite evidence dating back to 8,710 B.C. Visit the arroyo surrounding this historic site during your hike.

(970) 416-2815
http://www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/soapstone

Tour Avery House

The Avery House was built in 1879 by Franklin Avery who is responsible for the design of our wide streets around Fort Collins and he also was the founder of our local First National Bank and instrumental in developing many of our early water projects that enable agriculture to flourish in Northern Colorado. This house is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is available to tour on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-4 pm.

328 W Mountain Ave
(970) 221-0533
www.poudrelandmarks.org

Magic Bus Tour

Magic Bus Tours gives fun and educational tours around the Fort Collins area in a large limo bus painted end to end with a colorful collage of our local culture. The comfy climate-controlled bus has a large flat screen TV that allows them to incorporate photographs, audio elements, and videos into the tours. Magic Bus Tours offers several different tours, including the History Tour, Brewery Tour, and Farm Tour.

(970) 420-0662
www.themagicbustours.com

Visit Fort Collins Itinerary – Winter

Fort Collins has something for just about anyone and conveniently Visit Fort Collins has suggested itineraries to choose from. Whether you’re new to town, have someone visiting or want to rediscover this awesome town, check out the Visit Fort Collins website. See below for their Winter itinerary.

The winter season in Fort Collins is undeniably stunning and is one of the best times of the year to plan a trip. Fort Collins offers plenty of activities during the winter from fat biking and snowshoeing to the ultimate foodie escape, there are so many reasons to visit Fort Collins this winter.

DAY 1

Breakfast at Mugs Coffee Lounge

Mugs is locally owned and operated. The coffee lounge also always tries to locally source when possible. Mugs is rumored to have the best breakfast burritos around and the coffee is superb. They truly believe coffee shops very well may be one of the last remaining daytime social gathering spots in most communities.

306 W Laurel St.
(970) 449-2265
www.mugscoffeelounge.com

Fat Bike Tour

Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy one of the best outdoor recreation sports Fort Collins has to offer…Mountain Biking. Fat Tire bikes allow for you to cycle through the snow on the same trails that you love during the summer. Take a tour with Front Range Ride Guides and leave the stress of research and rentals behind.
www.frontrangerideguides.com

Lunch at Choice City Butcher

This local city butcher and deli offers the perfect after-recreation meal with high quality ingredients and tasty craft beer. Enjoy a relaxed lunch after your morning of Fat Tire Biking and get the fuel you’ll need.

104 W Olive St
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(970) 490-2489

www.choicecitybutcher.com

Visit a local Fort Collins Brewery

Fort Collins is home to over a dozen craft breweries including nationally recognized New Belgium Brewery and Odell Brewing Co. Enjoy an afternoon at one of our local breweries small or large and wind down after your outdoor adventure.
Fort Collins breweries

Explore local Natural Area

Fort Collins is home to around 50 natural areas including 100 miles of trail and over 40,000 acres of preserved and protected habitat. These areas are perfect for your next recreational outing. Enjoy activities such as fishing, mountain biking, hiking and more as you take a step into nature. These Natural Areas are open the public and conveniently located at different areas all over town for that perfect mid-day getaway.
www.fcgov.com/naturalareas

Dinner at Beau Jo’s Pizza

Set in the heart of Old Town, Beau Jo’s is legendary among Colorado outdoor enthusiasts. They have been offering award-winning Colorado Style Pizza for over 30 years. Beau Jo’s is also considered one of the “Top Insider Spots in the U.S.” according to Travelocity.

100 N College Ave
Fort Collins, CO 80524
(970) 498-8898

www.beaujos.com

Drinks at the Forge Publick House

Tucked away in Old Firehouse Alley in Old Town Fort Collins, this cozy bar offers a great environment to relax and sip on some brews. The bar houses 10 rotating taps with beer that never disappoints.

232 Walnut Street
(831) 332-8060
theforgepub.com

DAY 2

Breakfast at the Rainbow Restaurant

The Rainbow is a family owned restaurant specializing in vegetarian breakfasts, lunch and dinners for the past 38 years. Rainbow guests come for the great fresh taste and personal touches that are the hallmarks of the local establishment. The Rainbow also offers non vegetarian options for guests who prefer to eat chicken, turkey or breakfast meats such as ham, Canadian bacon or bacon.

212 W Laurel Street
970-221-2664
rainbowfoco.com

Snowshoeing in the Poudre Canyon

The Poudre Canyon offers beautiful views during the winter season. Rent your gear in town and head up the way to a snowshoeing adventure of choice.

Mineral Spring Gulch: Located in the Poudre Canyon this trail is great for a short, mid-winter excursion. It is 4 miles long, an out-and-back trail and great for beginners.
Directions: 149-211 Crown Point Road, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Little Beaver Creek Trail: Located in the Poudre Canyon this trail is great for early season snow and is moderate in skill level. It is 2 miles long, out-and-back and gains 1,500 ft. in elevation.
Directions: 7311 North County Road 63E, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Big South Trail: This 6 miles trail is located within the upper reaches of the Poudre Canyon and offers stunning views of frozen waterfalls. It is an out-and-back trail with moderate difficulty and gains 560ft in elevation.
Directions: 48924 Poudre Canyon Highway, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Green Ridge Road: Located in the upper reaches of the Poudre Canyon, this moderate difficulty trail offers great views from and of several frozen lakes and travels through the rolling forest. At only 3 miles long this snowshoeing trip is perfect for a quick out-and-back trip.
Directions: 51561 Poudre Canyon Highway, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Blue Lake:  As one of the most popular snowshoeing spots in the upper reaches of Poudre Canyon, this trail offers an easier short, round-trip excursions or a more challenging, all-day adventure. This trail is 4.75 miles one-way and offers beautiful views of Blue Lake surrounded by towering mountains.
Directions: 51561 Poudre Canyon Highway, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Trap Park: Located in the upper reaches of the Poudre Canyon this moderately difficult trail follows a small canyon for 11.5 miles and offers beautiful views of the Neota Wilderness and beautiful riparian area.
Directions: 51561 Poudre Canyon Highway, Roosevelt National Forest, Bellvue, CO 80512, USA

Pickup gear from JAX Mercantile

JAX Mercantile is a local Fort Collins sportsman shop that sells gear for all your local outdoor adventures. Rent your snowshoeing gear here before you head up the canyon and you’ll be sure  to get expert advice and fitting from the staff.

1200 N. College Ave
www.jaxmercantile.com/rentals

Lunch at the Mishawaka in the Poudre Canyon

The Mishawaka is a local’s favorite lunch spot to finish off a day of recreation in the Poudre Canyon. This live music amphitheater by summer is also a cozy mountain restaurant that sits atop the river. During the winter you can get tasty pub foods and hearty dishes to fuel up after your long day of winter recreation.

13714 Poudre Canyon Hwy
Bellvue, CO 80512
(970) 482-4420

www.themishawaka.com

Take a Horse and Carriage Ride

Horse and Carriage rides can be booked almost every night in Old Town. This is a chance to take in the beautiful scenery of Historic Old Town Fort Collins in a more intimate setting under the beautiful Holiday Lights, and maybe some light snow fall to make the experience ever more memorable. Envision you and that special someone cuddled up underneath a blanket while rolling along the historic streets of Old Town, soaking up that romantic moment. It doesn’t get much better than that.

coloradocarriageandwagon.com

The Do’s + Don’ts of Listing Photos

When you’re preparing to put your house on the market, you are probably already aware that most of the first impressions made on potential buyers will be via your listing photos. If you’re working with me, I pay for professional listing photos because they are THAT important. Seriously. It’s well worth the cost, especially when you live in Northern Colorado, aka one of the hottest real estate markets in the country. But, I’ll do you a favor. If you’re still planning on going rogue and doing this yourself, here are some do’s and don’ts to help you make the best of your listing photos and get the attention you want it to have.

DO:

  • Make your house look welcoming. A warm entryway and open front door will set the tone for the rest of your images.

  • Consider other perspectives. If you have access to an aerial photographer, having a bird’s eye view photo will help show off your property if you’ve got a great location.

  • Capture the best parts of your home. While you may think skipping certain rooms is the norm, it is better to show off what it is that makes you love your home. Do you have a beautiful garage? Make sure you get great photos of it!

  • Stage your rooms. Make sure potential buyers can see how great your space can be so they can picture themselves in it.

  • Show off the view – if you have one. If you’ve got a beautiful porch where you love to have your morning coffee because of the tree line, make sure you get a photo of that.

  • Take a curb shot. A buyer will want to know what to expect when they pull up to your home, so make sure there aren’t any surprises.

DON’T:

  • Try to get creative with angles. Real estate photography isn’t the time to try out new angles. Your clients will want to know what the home actually looks like, and making it look like there is a landslide with an artsy angle won’t help sell your home.

  • Use a fisheye lens. Extreme fisheye lenses can actually make your home and the rooms inside look smaller, and the distorted images can leave a bad taste in a potential buyer’s mouth.

  • Snag selfies while you’re photographing rooms. Buyers don’t want to see you in listing photos. Make sure you avoid angles that put your full reflection in any photo you use to list your home.

  • Capture the everyday mess of life. While in most cases it is important to show reality, this is the one case where it is key to not capture what your home actually looks like on a day to day basis. Your home should be clean and organized when listing photos are taken because potential buyers may have a hard time picturing themselves living in your home if they can’t look past the mess.

  • Show of your furry children. While there are plenty of pet lovers out there, featuring your pups or kittens will often detract from what your home looks like and lead clients to worry about potential pet damage or smells.