Friday, September 29, 2006

MOVE OVER SAN FRANCISCO: If someone were to ask you which Colorado downtown has as many restaurants per capita as San Francisco, your mind would probably flash to Aspen, Boulder, Vail, or, more likely Denver. But you would be wrong. It's Durango.

According to The Denver Post's Wednesday Food Section San Francisco has a restaurant for about every 180 residents; Durango has about 160 per resident. The Post devoted 4 pages, yes we said 4 pages, to covering several Durango establishments. Featured were Chez-Grand-mere, Ken & Sue's, Gazpacho, Seasons, Sushitarian, Mahogany Grill and the Durango Diner. Also the Cyprus Cafe and Jean-Pierre's Bakery and Cafe were critiqued.

While The Post did a terrific job in exposing the culinary side of Durango, they missed a few of our favorites:

** Patio dining at Olde Timers or Carver's Brewing Co.

** Randy's (best prime rib in town)

** Ariano's (wonderful Italian)

** The Palace (try the Chicken & Dumplings)

** Farquarhrts (where to locals go)

** Tequila's (the name says it all)

** Steamworks (have a brew and the cajun boil)

It looks like, in addition to skiing, hiking, fishing, camping, rafting, golfing, etc., we can now add another Durango favorite pastime - Eating!

For detailed information on our area visit or

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Take a look at This website is put up by the Orlando Board of Realtors and offers a humorous look at the troubles people get into doing things for themselves. It's very clever. For instance:


#10 Heart Transplant

#9 Build Your Own Swimming Pool

#8 Defend Yourself In Court

#7 Asbestos Removal

#6 Hair Plugs

#5 Septic Tank Cleaning

#4 Root Canal

#3 Lasik Surgery

#2 Cremation

And the #1 thing you should never do on your own.


This is a fun site and it's not all about real estate.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

ENERGY REBATES: La Plata Electric Association customers who join the co-op's renewable energy generation program can do their pocketbook as well as the environment a favor. Eight residential customers of the co-op has qualified for a rebate for installing a renewable energy generation system since January 1, when the program began. LPEA pays $2 per watt of capacity for a photovolatic, wind or hydroelectric system. This is a rebate not a grant.

Customers who install renewable energy can win four ways financially. Based on a typical 2,000 watt capacity system, which costs around $20,000, they could earn:

1. The LPEA one-time rebate of $2,000 ($2 per watt of capacity up to $1,000 watts.)

2. A $2,000 tax credit from the federal government. The federal residential tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of the system, not to exceed $2,000.

3. A $5,000 rebate from Xcel Energy, which is buying unlimited renewable energy credits to meet state voter approved goals regarding alternative energy sources. (This program expires October 1 but might be renewed.)

4. If a homeowner's system produces more electricity than the family consumes, the electric meter spins backward. At the end of the year, if a customer's electrical generation outstrips use, the customer gets a check from LPEA. In the net-metering program, as it's called, the customer is selling the power back to LPEA.

An alternative energy system can be installed by the consumer or by a certified professional. Because the system must meet state electrical codes and the protocols of the LPEA we strongly recommend hiring a professional to install your system.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

OPEN SPACE: Durango has been singled out as one of the bright spots in conservation efforts to keep open space beyond the reach of development.

In a report released last Monday, the Colorado Conservation Trust cites approval by Durango voters last year of a half-cent sales tax, half of which is to be spent on open space, parks and trails. The levy is expected to raise $6.2 million annually for conservation purposes.

The report on conservation activities last year also noted the acquisition by Durango of the 177 acre Jacobs Cliffs property on Animas Mountain that is to become Dalla Mountain Park after
the owner of the land.

It feels good to live in and be a part of a community where the citizens care about maintaining the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you Durango! /

Monday, September 18, 2006

IT'S AUTUMN IN THE ROCKIES: This photo was taken Sunday from Little Molas lake north of Durango. There's snow in the high country and the fall colors are beginning to show. Winter is on the way. Now is the time to prepare for what we hope is a spectacular snow season. Here is a fall fire safety checklist for homeowners:

** Clean roof and gutters of pine needles and leaves to eliminate an ignition source for potential fires.

** Fall is the best time to trim branches when trees are dormant.

** Clean the inside of the chimney and clean branches away from the exterior chimney stack.

** Stack firewood away from the house. Locate firewood uphill at least 15 feet from the home. Do not stack firewood under the deck!

** Remove unhealthy vegetation. Trees and shrubs that are stressed, diseased, dead or dying should be removed so that they do not become a fuel source for potential fires.

** Choose surrounding vegetation wisely. Maintain a greenbelt (irrigated if possible) immediately around the home using grass, a flower garden, and/or fire-resistant ornamental shrubbery. An alternative is rock or other non-combustible material, which may be preferable if the house is made of wood or other flammable materials. Avoid using bark or wood chip mulch in this area.

** Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Let's have a safe winter season and think "SNOW."

Friday, September 15, 2006

MARRIED / UNMARRIED: Marriage comes with financial benefits, a fact sometimes best recognized by couples who don't or can't get married. Unmarried couples who buy property need extra protections. Marriage allows couples tax-free transfer of property and gifts, as well as some inheritance rights without a will. Same-sex couples who can't officially wed or heterosexual couples who are unwilling to, need to put extra protections into place when buying or sharing a property.

Several states are now offering rights for unmarried couples, while others are taking them away. So local laws need to be carefully considered when choosing a home ownership structure. Colorado is one of the latest states to propose that same-sex partners receive the same state rights as married couples. A vote is scheduled for November.

It's important to note that, even if Colorado permits the forming of a domestic partnership, these laws will be new and not necessarily recognized by the federal government. This makes joint ownership and financial planning more complicated. That's why it's best to work through these issues with an attorney and a financial planner. Unmarried couples need to decide how to title their home, or how to structure ownership, because different structures have different consequences.

Many unmarried couples choose the "joint tenants with rights of survivorship" structure, which allows for an automatic and probate free transfer to a surviving partner. For married couples, who can transfer assets to each other tax free, this structure makes sense. Estate taxes aren't owed until the second party dies. Unmarried couples, however, run the risk of being taxed twice.

For unmarried couples, many attorneys say that"tenancy-in-common," when coupled with a revocable living trust, is a more flexible way to title one's home. This structure allows partners to own unequal interest in the property, but there's no automatic transfer after one dies unless it's designated by the living trust. A properly funded trust, in which assets are titled in the trust, is a hassle-free way to leave property to a partner because you avoid probate.

This information is not to be considered legal advice. We are merely pointing out the need to be cautious in acquiring real property. Everyone, especially unmarried couples, should consult with their attorney to determine their best course of action. Call or email us if we can be of assistance.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

FRONTIER: Bobby Lieb, executive directive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that Durango is among the cities being considered by Frontier Airlines for expanded service from Denver. Lieb's report was to a meeting of the La Plata Economic Development Action Partnership.

Frontier Airlines, which now carries 20 percent of Denver International Airport traffic, previously announced that it is acquiring 10 of the fuel efficient Bombardier Q400 model high wing turboprops to launch Frontier Express next July. Speculation has been that Frontier would use some of the planes to serve some of the state's mountain towns. Lieb's report was the first putting Durango in the mix. We hope he's correct.

Additional flights in and out of Durango obviously will make it easier for travelers to arrange and make connections to other parts of the country. Plus, with the high wing Bombardier the view of the trip over the front range will be even more spectacular. We'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

THE WORD IS OUT! Durango is the darling of the glossies this year. Fresh on the heels of being named the nation's top mountain biking mecca by Outside magazine, our fair city is again in the headlines. In its September issue, National Geographic Adventure tapped Durango as one of its top "Amazing Adventure Towns."

The write up reads, "For multisport adventurers seeking a home that has it all, Durango feels like the center of everything. Head uphill and you're in the Rockies, hiking, skiing, and ice climbing in legendary alpine terrain. Hit the lowlands and you're in the Southwest, with year-round access to mountain biking, Anasazi ruins, and slot canyons. Hang around town and you'll discover Main Street's Wild West character and a thriving community euphoric about life in America's premier outdoor hub."

In a curious move, National Geographic then goes on to plug the Southern Ute Indian Tribe's Three Springs development, noting that it could be an opportunity for would-be "Amazing Adventurers" to break into the market. "The project means more affordable housing in a market brimming with $500,000 homes; it also means even tighter competition for jobs in the service oriented economy.

The magazine named a total of 31 adventure towns with Durango topping the list of "Great Outdoor Meccas." Those of us lucky enough to be living in this Colorado paradise know that National Geographic is "right on." If your not here but want to be, give us a call. We can answer all your questions about Durango.

Learn more about our area at and
WATER FACTS: Approximately 66% of the annual water flows from the Colorado watershed occurs during the late spring/early summer runoff. These water flows cannot be fully utilized by Colorado agriculture, communities and residents unless they are stored in reservoirs. Vallecito, Lemon, McPhee and Jackson Gulch Reservoirs store spring water flows from the San Juan and Dolores watersheds for year-round beneficial use in southwestern Colorado. Only 3% of the annual water flow occurs during the winter months of December, January and February. Without water storage in southwestern Colorado, there would not be stable water supplies for our agriculture, communities and residents during either the low-flow inter months or the dryer late summer months.

Colorado Water Table
& Water Terms

One acre foot of water equals...

~ An acre of land covered with one foot of water
~ 325,900 gallons of water
~ Enough water to supply a family of five for one year

One cubic foot per second (cfs) equals...

~448 gallons of water per minute
~1,983 acre feet (af) of water in twenty-four hours of water flow
~ 646,320 gallons of water in twenty-four hours of water flow

One million gallons of water per day (mgd) equals...

~ 3.07 acre feet (af) in one day
~ 1,120 acre feet (af) in one year

As we earlier posted, water allocation is normally controlled by ditch companies and measured in cubic feet per second (cfs.) The amount of water represented by one share in the ditch company can vary from company to company. A buyer should to be thorough in their due diligence when purchasing irrigated property to be certain there is enough water for their needs. That's where we can help. If you have questions or would like additional information about Durango real estate, give us a call or email.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

WATER RIGHTS: We find that one of the most confusing things for newcomers to our area to grasp is Colorado water law. Since the 1860s, The Colorado Doctrine has defined the four essential principles of Colorado water law: 1. All surface and ground water in Colorado is a public resource for benefical use by publicagencies and private persons. 2. A water right is a right to use a portion of the public's water resources. 3. Water rights owners may build facilities on the lands of others to divert, extract or movewater from a stream or aquifer to its place of use. 4. Water rights owners may use streams or aquifers for the transportaion and storage of water. Practical application of The Colorado Doctrine means that water can be moved from where it is found to where it is needed based upon a priority system of "first in time, first in right." People, with water rights, who live along the river usually have diversions from the river to their lands. Away from the river, landowners are dependent upon irrigation ditches to deliver their water. The irrigation ditches are mutually-owned non-profit corporations established to deliver water to owners. Each ditch company has a board of directors, a secretary to handle the office business, and a ditch rider who controls the actual water flow. Operations are based on the by-laws of each ditch company and by Colorado corporate law. We'll discuss more water facts and issues in future postings. In the meantime, if you have questions or would like additional information about Durango real estate please give us a call or email.

**This is a re-post from April, 2006. Water issues are so important in our area we want to keep these topics current and easy to find.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

WINTER'S COMING: Everyone who pays a heating bill is looking for ways to same money. Electric Thermal Storage Heat (ETS) may be the answer. Here are some of the most common questions and answers about EST heat.

What is an ETS heater? ETS heaters are 100-percent efficient units designed to use off peak electricity to provide heat for less that half price of regular residential rates.

How do ETS heaters work? During off-peak hours, the ETS unit's heating elements covert electricity to heat, which is stored in high-density ceramic bricks. The bricks are surrounded by high efficiency insulation that allows them to hold heat for long periods. A fan evenly and quietly distributes the heat to you home 24 hours a day. Built-in thermostats allow you to easily maintain a desired temperature.

How may ETS heaters are required for a home? ETS heaters come in many sizes, from individual room units to whole home furnaces. This allows great flexibility in heating everything from a small room to the whole house or even a workshop. Cost and the number of heaters needed depends on many factors; size of the home, amount of insulation, number of windows, etc. A representative from the local electrical supplier can measure the home, factor in all the variables and make recommendations.

Most electrical suppliers offer economic incentives promoting the use of this energy saving device. For example, in our area, La Plata Electric offers a rebate of $40 per kilowatt. For a 40 kilowatt furnace, this is a substantial rebate.

Be certain to use a qualified electrician when installing a ETS unit. A list of local electricians trained in installing ETS heaters can usually be obtained from the electric supplier.

Mary and I hope this information is beneficial to you. Let us know if we can be of assistance. /

Saturday, September 02, 2006

WHO REPRESENTS YOU? One of the hot topics facing the real estate world right now is the issue of agency. Some would have you believe that it really doesn't affect you, the buyer, and that not much has really changed. They are wrong!

The question of agency is important to you as a buyer because it it answers the most basic and fundamental question that you can ask a real estate professional: Who do you represent in this transaction?

Until that question is answered, you may be left with the impression that all agents who work with buyers actually represent those buyers, and that you have someone going to bat for you in your transaction. Bad assumption.

Lets say you meet a really nice agent, Joe, and share with him what you're looking for and spend several hours on a Saturday afternoon looking at properties. During your conversation you volunteer that you have $250,000 to spend and not a penny more. You find the "perfect" house listed for $250,000 but decide to submit an offer of $225,000. During negotiations, the seller's broker asks Joe how much cash you have and how high are you willing go. Guess what, Joe has that information.

Now, in Colorado unless you have a signed "Buyer Representation Agreement" with Joe making him your Buyer Broker, Joe is most likely acting as a Transaction Broker and has no fiduciary obligation to you. Joe, if he chooses, can disclose the financial information you've given him to the other parties seriously affecting your negotiating position. As your Buyer Broker, Joe cannot disclose any confidential information and must remain your advocate at all times. Which position, as a buyer, do you prefer?

Make sure the agent you are working with has agreed, in writing, to represent you as a "Buyers Broker." We have a specimen of Colorado's Buyer Representation on our website Click on "Buying a Home." If you have any questions or need further information give us a call or email. We're here to help you.