Colorado Appraisals Get More Expensive

Colorado Appraisals Get More Expensive

People often confuse a home inspection with a home appraisal. To clarify, a home inspection is to determine the condition of the home and inclusions. A home appraisal is a formal opinion of value to determine what the property is worth.

If you're getting a new mortgage your lender will require an appraisal in order to justify the sales price. Your lender will order the appraisal for you. And it will be paid by you, the buyer. Typically lenders will require that payment up front, at the time appraisal is ordered. 

Here in El Paso County, appraisals usually cost around $350-400. But I just read those rates are going up. Effective November 1st the cost for a VA appraisal is now going to be $750. That's a big jump. But it makes sense. Our area sees so many VA loan, and those VA appraisers are swamped with the increased workload of the past few years. In speaking with a lender friend of mine, she said that there is no new set appraisal rate for Conventional and FHA loans, but she thinks they will hover around $650 and VA ones will be at $750.

Increased home sales is obviously a good thing. Our housing market has been on the upswing for the past seven years in a row. Cool! But our buyers are going to feel more of a sting when they are confronted with these new, higher fees. 

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More About Meridian Ranch - Part 2

More About Meridian Ranch - Part 2


There you are. You’re on a brisk walk with the kids. You notice a speeding Beamer zooming toward your youngest. Your toddler. She's about to cross the road. You think, “hey, we need a cross-walk here” catching her bolt just in time. People need to know we live here right? It so happens the other day you also saw another group of older kids crossing in this Frogger-like game during rush hour (not cool). You’re fired up now. You want in the game. You know what’s needed, but you don’t know how to work the system. In this case, did you know the Ranch District can be an advocate for residents to El Paso County for pedestrian safety enhancements? Hi, I’m back again with another hyper-local focus on Falcon’s fastest-growing Meridian Ranch neighborhood. In my last post of this good-neighbor brain-builder series, I covered HOAs and the Service District, what they do and don’t do. Here, I’ll dig deeper into what the “Ranch” District is about (and how they can help your toddler).



That’s right. The Ranch District plans and pays for service. And they also annually plan and finance major improvements for Meridian Ranch homeowners. New trails, new pools, new wells, you name it. If the Service District maintains it, the Ranch District funds it. For these reasons the Meridian Ranch Metropolitan District is colloquially referred to as the “Financing District” looking at their registered Service Plan. In the big picture, the Ranch District collects cash it needs to serve residents from residents by three mechanisms: 

  • Levying a 25 mil tax (never to exceed 50 mils)
  • Collecting monthly service fees from residents
  • Issuing bonds for long-term capital improvements


Easy stuff right? So now you can think of the Ranch District as a money funnel. Into it goes all three cash flows above. And that pays for service, like a private HOA. The 25 mil levy is calculated from a resident’s assessed El Paso county property taxes. Lost there? That's okay. Just remember this special district has the power to tax, and they take a chunk from the overall county tax. Cash is also collected through each resident’s monthly Service District bill. Fees for water resources, wells, street lighting, park/rec/open space, sewage and water pay for the Service District costs to operate and expand infrastructure. If you need an example of these fees, find them by clicking here. Finally, when the elected Ranch District Board of Directors sees fit, the district may issue bonds for long term financing for larger improvement projects. Simply said, they can incur debt.



Yes, it’s the two Districts and their combined Board of Directors that do all the planning and decisions for this gig. Don't worry, these guys are all Meridian Ranch homeowners also. The larger body of homeowners elect five unpaid directors for staggered four-year terms to conduct the executive activities over the Meridian District and Service Districts. Check out my diagram below. These aren't separate boards. They're one. Like Angie Kelly of Community Resource Services explains, "the conversations aren't really separate, it's all one meeting, one district." Take a peek. The minutes say just that.



And this goes back to accessing power (and advocating for your toddler and others). True, both the Service and Ranch District entities don't have authority over Meridian Ranch roads and building new crosswalks. El Paso County does. But this Board over the two Districts does have clout. And they do work alongside with the county on many projects. For instance, building a water line to the Falcon Regional Park. Here, collaboration is ripe and ready to be harnessed at the open monthly public meetings each month. Check their schedule out here.


Okay, let's call this a wrap! (or a "croak" if you're now wining at Frogger). Congratulations. You're now crossing over into the big leagues of Meridian mojo. With all the talk about the Ranch Financing District, you may ask how this funding is calculated? Or you may be confused with the support like the YMCA, the and how they fit into my picture describing this game below. Hang loose there. That will be the subject of my next posts.  



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Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters: What's the Best?

Tankless vs Tank Water Heaters: What's the Best?

I've often wondered, so maybe you have too, what the best style of water heater is for a home. The tankless option which came out years ago to provide more energy efficiency seems to be a great option, because water isn't sitting in the typical stand-up tank being heated and unused. 

However I wanted to get some expert advice, so I consulted with my favorite HVAC pro, Bob Brown of Brown's Heating and Cooling

Here is my long-winded analysis, with his advice. 

Cost Comparison

* The typical stand-up water heater is less expensive to install...$1400/1500 for traditional tank vs $4500 for tankless water heater

Energy Efficiency

* The tankless water heaters have recovery issues, despite their claim to a quick recovery, especially in Colorado where the groundwater comes out of the ground at 52 degrees. It takes more energy/time to get it to a comfortable shower temperature.

* Most tankless water heaters are manufactured for sea level, where the water comes out of the ground at 70 degrees, and obviously then takes less energy to get it to needed temps

* Tankless water heaters generally yield 7 gallons per minute of hot water, and stand-ups yield 11.2-13 gallons

* One tankless water heater might support a small home, but larger custom homes are putting in 2-3 tankless water heaters, obviously adding expense


* Most homes are built with inadequate natural gas output for tankless, BT rating too low, so existing homes looking to upgrade will also need to upgrade gas service into the home, which is an added expense

* Venting will likely need to be updated/upgraded for tankless heaters as well

Conclusion: Buying a Tank Water Heater vs Tankless Water Heater

Overall, it seems the tankless water heaters aren't a great option at our altitude, as the added expenses and energy needed don't necessarily offset the energy savings. Over time, the 

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Why Buyers Should Get Sewer Inspections

Why Buyers Should Get Sewer Inspections

A lot of first time homebuyers may not be aware that sewer inspections are not part of your routine home inspection. This is so important. Buying a home & moving is stressful enough as it is. Finding out that you have a bad sewer line after closing would just add to that list. Sewer line inspections can range from about $150-$300. Plumbers will inspect the line to see if its bellied, split, offset, collapsing or clogged with tree roots. They will also check the material of the line as well. This has become important because construction in the 1950’s, utilized a tar like cardboard called Orangeburg. This type of material is known to just fall apart & collapse resulting in very costly repairs.

Even if your potential dream house wasn't built in the 1950's, a sewer inspection might be a worthwhile cost. If there are issues encountered during the inspection, you’ll want to be sure to have your plumber record a video of the line so that it can be provided to the sellers. Sewer line replacements or back-ups can cost thousands of dollars and the repair or replacement of the line is usually EXCLUDED by most insurance companies. Sewer inspections are easy. You can ask your Realtor for a recommendation, or call a plumber of your choice. It's worth the peace of mind & security, knowing that there aren’t any hidden issues in your new home. 

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Getting to Know Meridian Ranch

Getting to Know Meridian Ranch


Maybe you’re just scoping Meridian Ranch from afar. Or maybe just want to know—WHO RUNS MERIDIAN RANCH? I did. This post kicks off the Brain Builder series for Meridian Ranch at Falcon Colorado. You ready?

Sure, there’s no such Meridian mayor running the place. But are you wondering…WHY ISN’T THERE A HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION? If you’re just getting into Meridian Ranch, you’ll likely find this answer on some FAQ online – or maybe scattered everywhere online. But if you’re like me, you had no clue on this. And you’re reading now to get to the skinny. So here goes:


Stonebridge enclave does. Ah ha! Got you. Here’s where the Catch 22s begin. If you know them all, that’s fabulous! But if you’re new (or busy like me), anyone can find the setup confusing. Wondering who maintains the common grounds? The parks? The trails? Storm drains? Sewer? And all that stuff out there?


Or in longwinded Germanic-Latin: the “Meridian Service Metropolitan District” takes stead. Keyword here is “Service.” We see these guys driving everywhere in their white trucks helping us.  They do everything from supplying water, growing our rec center, contracting street light maintenance, parks, trails, entrance monuments…you get it. Here the Service District functions like a HOA, but instead of being private like a HOA, it’s a public entity formed under Colorado law. Now for the second catch (mostly for the uninitiated): Service District doesn’t enforce covenants.  Instead, they’re on record as being part of a “special district" serving Meridian Ranch.  Just think about that relaxing lazy river for those kiddos at the 42,000 square foot YMCA. Or that enormous hot tub at the new indoor pool (for us big Kiddos!). Third Catch: The Meridian Service Metropolitan District doesn’t do everything a HOA usually does. In the big picture, they don’t remove snow, unless it’s trail snow. And if you’ve haven’t yet just arrived, the Service District doesn’t remove garbage. Most notably, the Meridian Service Metropolitan District doesn’t govern those pesky architectural and covenant issues…those naughty “CC&R” violations.  If you know a guy who’s had a dead tree in their yard for four months, there’s a second group enforcing CC&Rs. Who does that?


Or more correctly said (with stylish British accent please) the “Design Review Committees.”  What a DRC does do like a HOA is function like an architectural committee. Here the DRCs approve new changes for homes and landscaping plans. And, unlike the Service District (if we’re slacking) the DRC will write us up for covenant violations. Perhaps you’ve been there?  I have, and yes, you’ve got to still love the DRCs—Meridian Ranch property values are crushing it this year! For both current and new Ranch folk, this leads to yet a Fourth Catch: DRCs don’t maintain our roads (El Paso County does), and the DRCs don’t pay for those snow plow trucks zooming the Ranch in January (El Paso County does).

So let’s pause there. We just said DRCs? Yes, to make this awkward, there are two DRCs for Meridian Ranch. And yes, the odds of guessing your DRC number correctly is logically equivalent to flipping coins in your pocket. Try it one day (just not while driving Londonderry). But seriously, your DRC is based on your home’s location. Click here to find yours. Finally, to make this more awkward, Meridian’s Stonebridge community doesn’t have a DRC!  Stonebridge has a ________ (kindly fill in the blank, or click here if you’re paying attention ( : 


Okay, a h-o-a lot of info making us a little smarter in our neighbor talk, so let’s stop there! I’ve got to go now. But you’re probably wondering, how the Meridian Service District gets funding? Or maybe you’re “nail-biting” confused between that name “Ranch” District and “Service” District? Maybe you have no clue. Relax! We’ll cover that in my next Brain Builder post…

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