What’s In a Name?

For many years, I enjoyed a successful Real Estate career as Mimi Foster.  While I was quite fortunate to marry the wonderful Mr. David Feith, my name then became, “Mimi How-do-you-pronounce-your-last-name?”  After several hundred times of saying, “It’s pronounced ‘Feith like Keith,'” I have decided to simplify my life and go back to using Foster as my last name as it pertains to my real estate business.  So over the next few months, you will see our name change taking place – on our signs, in our marketing, when I identify myself =).  We will still provide you with the same excellent service that you have always enjoyed when using Vineyard Properties, and yes, for those of you who have been so kind as to ask, I am still very happily married.

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Bottled Water or Tap?

If you have the privilege of living in Colorado, you know that it is not as much of a decision as it might be in other parts of the country.  Having spent a good part of my youth in Florida, there is no comparison to the clear, cold, fresh elixir that comes out of Colorado taps.  It is probably more refreshing than any you can get out of a bottle.  The local Utility Company recently published a report on the quality of our drinking water, and there were some interesting ideas shared that might make you think twice before shelling out any more money on bottled water:  

Because it is considered a food product, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.  As such, it is only necessary for them to test products that you are purchasing off the store shelves from individual manufacturers once per year for contaminants.  Often, those same distributors are using local tap water in their areas to fill your bottles.  (Gross!)  And the companies that fill those bottles don’t have to release their results to the public, but the results from continual testing by our Utility Company are public record.

The amount of money we spend on bottled water is rather insane.  On average, a liter of bottled water (approximately 34 ounces) costs 87 cents.  A gallon of fresh Colorado Springs water (approximately 128 ounces) costs less than a penny.  And if you are anything like me, drinking out of a nice glass with ice is a much more pleasant experience than a plastic bottle that has been touched by heaven-only knows how many hands before it reaches your lips.

The energy needed each year just to make the bottles from which Americans drink would be enough to fuel over 100,000 cars annually.  Long before it was the national epidemic it is today, consumers in the United States spent over $11 BILLION dollars on bottled water in 2006.  Today, the average US consumer uses almost 200 bottles of water each year.  With a population of over 300 million people, that is a frightening statistic.

But probably the main concern that we should have about bottled water is the incredible harm that it is causing to our environment in having to dispose of the non-biodegradable ‘carcass.’  Estimates are that it will take the average bottle 1000 years to degrade.  There are currently over two million tons of plastic bottles in US landfills.  That’s FOUR BILLION POUNDS of plastic so far that may be around for the next twenty-five generations.

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What is a Victorian?

Many people think that “Victorian” refers to a certain architectural style.  It is, in fact, more correctly identified as a period in history from 1837 until 1901 when Queen Victoria reigned in England. Homes built during that time period fall into this category. 

There are many different types and styles of Victorians:  Folk Victorian, American Foursquare, Queen Anne, Italianate, Georgian, Shotgun Style, Gothic Revivial, Stick-Eastlake, Second Empire Style, Richardsonian Romanesque, American Gothic, Shingle Style.

The Industrial Revolution changed the way that homes were built. Because siding could now be mass-produced, it became more affordable. Square cedar shingles, ragged mitre-cut shingles, half-cove pattern shingles, as well as just the standard clap-board siding could now be used by many builders, and more often than not, many different cuts were used on the same house. 

With the advent of pattern books, builders were able to borrow a piece from one blueprint, add a different piece from another blueprint, and the most popular Victorian designs were able to spread quickly. Often a conglomerate of different styles, homes built during this period will generally have at least one aspect of the above styles, but many of them integrate bits and pieces of several styles.

We look at Victorian homes as unique, but often they were ‘tract homes’ at the turn of the century. Builders would use the same floor plan when establishing a neighborhood of homes, reverse the floor plan (flip it) from one home to the next, and then change an architectural detail on the outside so that each house appeared unique, but they were often just ‘cookie-cutter homes.’

Because so many of these homes were built without a kitchen or a bath, you will often find several additions to the original structure that eventually housed these rooms. Since there was no running water, the large stoves were used to heat water for baths and washing dishes.

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Does your mother know? – Colorado College Rental

Driving home very late one night, we passed one of our college rentals.  Finding it hard to ignore approximately a hundred college boys standing outside on the lawn looking in the windows, we pulled over and ‘joined the crowd.’  As we inched our way closer and closer to the front of the house, we realized that the interior of the house was as packed with young men as the yard was.  We could see that our ingenious tenants had moved the large bar into the living room.  Several college girls were perched atop the bar – performing a strip tease for their classmates.

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Latex Bulge – Downtown Colorado Springs

In previewing a tenant-occupied home prior to taking a listing, I entered one of the bedrooms and noticed something that was the shape of a half-basketball protruding from the ceiling above the bed.  Upon closer examination, I discovered that an unchecked water leak from the upstairs bathroom had pooled in the latex paint of the ceiling until it had gotten heavy enough to bulge.

The tenant had noticed it for weeks, but didn’t think that sleeping under several gallons of water secured only by a thin coat of latex paint was cause for worry.

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Cash Buyer

When you are a single young mother of five girls and a brand new Realtor, you chase deals where you find them, and often don’t yet have the sense to verify facts.  For three full days I drove a cash buyer around town, dealing with her kids and her mother and her sister, looking at every available home in her $350,000 price range.  On a hot afternoon, I pulled into a 7-11 to buy everyone drinks, and turned to my ‘client’ and asked her if she needed anything.  She said, “Yes, would you pick up a lottery ticket for me?  It’s the only chance I would ever have of buying one of these beautiful homes.”

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Squishy Carpet – Colorado College Rental

Being summoned to a college rental because there was an obvious leak that was saturating the carpet and causing it to ‘squish’ when they walked across the living room, we arrived with the necessary equipment to fix the problem.  Turns out that we only needed the heavy-duty steam cleaner . . . to suck out gallons of beer that had made its way out of bottles, cups, cans, and kegs.

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“I need a mop” – Colorado College Rentals

Throughout our years of being landlords for Colorado College kids, we found that they came in all shapes and descriptions.  One year we rented a 7 bedroom house to a group of 7 graduating seniors, all female.  About the third month into their lease we got a call to let us know that the kitchen floor was dirty.  When I asked, very nicely and gently, what that could possibly have to do with me, I was informed that they didn’t have a mop.  Wasn’t it MY responsibility to supply them with one – AND clean the floor?

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Bong Water – Downtown Colorado Springs

Showing a Buyer a tenant-occupied home one day, we wondered at how someone could live and move around in such a furniture-cluttered home.  As we walked sideways through the living room, we noticed a bong full of water on one of the coffee tables.

Opening a bedroom door, a rather ferocious looking dog did a single-bound leap from his resting position on the bed straight toward me.  As I tried to protect my Client from this ‘beast’ and get the door closed before he reached me, I fell back over the coffee table as my foot got caught in the door.  The bong went straight up in the air, and I was nimble enough to catch it before it could reconnect with table or floor.  As I landed on my back on the table with the bong in my hands, I was very proud that not a drop of water had spilled anywhere.  I, however, ended up being quite bruised.

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Realtors who need a break

It was one of my first deals.  We had finally gotten to the closing table, but I was a relatively new Realtor, and didn’t yet have a lot of confidence in ‘taking control’ of the closing.  I had considered closing in separate closing rooms, but the Buyers and the Sellers got along so well, and it was only the other Realtor who had been the problem from the beginning. 

As we sat at the table, the other Realtor started picking up cookies, one by one, and flinging them into the walls of the closing room.  Shocked, we all looked at him in amazement, not having any idea what he was doing.  Finally he said, “Look, wasn’t it nice of them to provide us with Frisbees?”  Not having any idea how to proceed, my very-experienced closer said, “Martin, did you forget to take your meds this morning?  Why don’t you get up and take a walk for a few minutes?”  We finished our closing while he was out of the room.

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