Fix Up Your House to Sell

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Fix Up Your House to Sell

Elbow grease goes a long way!          
We all have those little (or big) projects around the house that we’ve been putting off: a missing outlet cover, a bent window screen, a broken door.  We may have lived with them for so long that we don’t even notice them or maybe we just haven’t had the time or energy to fix it.  Life happens, and things can fall by the wayside in the midst of the craziness. However, if you’re looking to sell your house, those “little” projects can become major turn-offs for potential buyers.  The great news is that nothing pays off better than a little elbow grease! Here is a handy checklist that you should review before you put your house on the market.  The list is pretty detailed, but the most attractive houses usually reflect some good, quality TLC to these areas.  And as always, if you’re unsure where to start, give the GoodFit Homes team a call.  Marty can stop by your house and help you figure out the best areas to begin.

 

 

EXTERIOR

Paint. The condition of your home’s exterior is most important when it comes to buyer appeal. Touch up trim paint on doors, window frames, fascia, etc.  Replace missing shutters, gutters, and downspouts and remove any debris.  Inspect the roof for necessary repairs and any visible broken shingles or tiles. Wash all windows inside and outside

Front Entry. Give special care to this area. This is where buyers get their first opportunity to make a close inspection. All woodwork should be freshly and neatly painted, including the door if necessary. Replace a badly worn or broken doorbell button. Polish the door brass. Repaint or replace an unsightly mailbox. Put out a new or clean door mat. Do a thorough weeding and pruning job on any flower beds near the entry. A low-cost investment in seasonal flowers or ground cover will add a personal touch.

Yard. If your lawn shows no signs of life, a little fertilizer and some water will do wonders for its color. Mow, edge and water the lawn frequently until the home is sold.  Overgrown shrubbery should be cut back to show as much of the exterior as possible.

Fence and Patio. Fences and patios should be mended and painted.  If the street sweeper does not come every week, make sure the area in front of your curb and driveway are clear of debris. Wash it down with the hose. A nice spread of outdoor furniture on a patio looks very appealing, if you have it available.

Driveway. Clean up grease or oil spots. For excessive stains, there are easy-to-use cleaning agents at your home repair store; and cracks in the driveway and sidewalks can be easily repaired with ready-mix cement. See that the garage door opens freely and that the automatic door opener is in good working order. If possible, don’t park cars in front of the house or in the driveway, and try to have very few parked on the street near the house.

Swimming Pool. Adjust chemicals until the pool sparkles. Hose dust and cobwebs from filtration equipment. Store chemicals and tools neatly.

MECHANICAL AND ELECTRICAL FEATURES

Lights. Every light socket in and around the house should have good bulb of adequate wattage. Don’t overlook those outside; in the garage, utility room, halls closets, or over the kitchen sink; and in the oven and exhaust hood.

Switches and Fixtures. Repair or replace wall switches, outlets, and light fixtures that don’t work. Replace any broken switch plates. If you are not fully competent to handle these repairs, please call in a professional in order to keep you and your family safe.

Appliances. Any appliances  that will be sold with the home should be in good working condition.  Replace fixtures that are irreparable or just plain unsightly.  New fixtures and appliances don’t have to be top-of-the-line, but they should be decent quality and neutral in style. If specific equipment does not work and you do not intend to repair it, make sure the GoodFit Homes team is aware.

Plumbing. Badly chipped or irreversibly stained sinks and tubs should be re-enameled, patched or replaced. Leaky or excessively noisy toilets should be fixed, as well as any dripping faucets.

Sprinkler Systems. These should be working properly with no defect.

INTERIOR

Overall Cleanliness.  Clean your home from top to bottom.  Have carpeting and draperies cleaned.  Carpeting should be vacuumed throughout the house the day your home is being shown.  If you have a fireplace, make sure all of the tile is in good condition, the screen is in good shape, and the hearth is clean.  Lubricate squeaking doors, windows, and cabinets.  A few colorful plants will help liven and add color to the interior.

Spaciousness. One of the best and least expensive ways to improve the showability of your home is to open up as much space as possible. Openness stimulates positive feelings in buyers. Overstuffed rooms or closets give the impression of being smaller than they really are. You can’t change the size of what you have, so try to present it in a pleasing way.

Paint and Doors. Repair any cracks or holes in walls and touch up paint.   Doors should be cleaned and touched-up as well. All torn screens should be repaired or replaced.  Avoid repainting the entire house unless your current colors are very loud or offbeat. White or light pastels are the easiest for new homeowners to work with and they make your rooms look larger.

Closets and Storage Areas. One of the most frequently voiced requirements of buyers is for closet and storage space. Open up your storage areas by getting rid of items you aren’t using. Store out-of-season clothes so closets don’t look cluttered.

Kitchen.  Most buyers will inspect the kitchen carefully, so extra time invested here is well spent. Keep the counters clean and clear of appliances. All appliances should be clean and neatly organized. An open appearance with sunlight and green plants here and there will make the room a focal point.  Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.  Clean and wax the kitchen floor. If the floor looks old and dull, consider replacing the flooring.  Clean fans and vent hoods. Buyers frequently check this area as a clue to general housekeeping.  Clean the stove inside and out.

Bathrooms. All bathroom appliances should be thoroughly cleaned. Remove stains from sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. Replace old caulking around bathtub and sinks. Repair or replace leaky faucets. Unclog and sanitize drains to remove odors.  Clean all mirrors.  Keep all toilet seat lids closed.  Fresh towels should be in the bathrooms at all times. Other potential fixes might be soap residue in a shower, a moldy shower curtain, accumulated dirt in the track of a sliding shower door, soiled or missing grout, and dirty or battered bathmats.

Garage. Buyers will pay a premium for a garage if they can visualize it being of value to them, but it’s hard to sell the virtues of a garage when it is filled to overflowing. If your garage has become a two-car attic, have a garage sale to dispose of any unwanted items. Family heirlooms, which you will take with you, should be boxed and stored in the garage until you move. Degreasers are available at your local home repair store to remove stains from the garage floor. Remove any cobwebs. If the basement or attic is a functioning part of the house, make sure the area is clean and in good repair.

Odor. Nothing can turn off a buyer like the smell of moldy towels or rotten food. Put deodorizers in each room and closet. Take all trash and garbage out of the house, particularly any food-related discards from the kitchen. And make sure no potatoes or onions are going bad under the sink or in the pantry. After running garbage through a disposal unit, grind up part of a lemon to add a fresh smell. If you have pets, move the cat’s litter box out of the house or into the garage and clean up after the dog before any showings. Wash any pet beds,blankets and toys to remove old smells.

How to Prepare Your House for a Real Estate Photo Shoot

Tips to make your house listing perfect         

You may have completed the home-repair “honey-do” list detailed out in our “Fix to Sell” post and elbow-greased your house into looking beautiful.  Now it’s time for the professional photographer to come in and shoot the pictures that will be potential buyers’ first look.  There are several benefits to ensuring that the photos look good, including the possibility to sell your house at a higher price point because the listing looks professional.  But before the photographer arrives, there are just a few extra things that can bring your house from attractive home to listing perfection.  Here are some tips to prepare your home for the photographer:

 

Let the Light In. Open all drapes and blinds to let in as much light as possible (unless there is a very unappealing view out the window you don’t want to highlight in the photo). For a bright and cheerful look, turn on every single light in the house, and don’t forget the surface lights on your stove or under your cupboards. Turn off the ceiling fans.

Get Rid of the Grime.  A quick wipe down to “clean” the house isn’t enough to get rid of the grime, and it is important that all areas are deep-cleaned in order to remove hard water buildup, dirt, or anything else that might be visible. Make sure that the windows are spotless, they should be washed to get rid of fingerprints or marks.  Dust and vacuum the whole house thoroughly.

Clear the Clutter. It is always best to clear the clutter out of every room, because a clean space is more appealing. Get all knickknacks, stacks of paper, remote controls, extraneous furniture, family photos, pet stuff & toys out of sight.  Do not store them under your bed.  Photographers can often see under beds, and it’s not a pretty sight when there’s a yard sale stuffed underneath.  The general rule-of-thumb for shelving is that each shelf/stand should only be one-third full.  See all those books you love on your overstuffed bookshelf?  Now take half of them out (the bright, clashing, odd-sized ones).  Hide power cords and cables as much as you can.   If you have child-proof latches on cupboards and drawers, remove them for the photos if it’s not too difficult.  Make your beds look like you see in magazines.  The pillows should be big and fluffy and the bed cover should be hotel-room perfect.   Hide all digital do-dads and cords laying around the bed.  The goal is to create a stylish, generic room in which the buyer can picture themselves living in. If you include too many personal effects, such as photos and knickknacks, then it makes it more difficult for the buyer to imagine their own things in the room. So, get rid of the distractions and eliminate any clutter that may be present.

First Impressions Matter. Keep in mind that potential buyers are going to be looking at rooms from the doorway they enter through, and the initial “feeling” is the one that will count the most.  They will likely also spend more time viewing the room from the side where the door is located. You want to create a lasting impression from the moment they step into the room, so it is important to arrange things so the room looks great from that angle.  It is good to capture the windows in the photos, because people like to see the natural light that comes in the room, so consider the way the furniture is place as it corresponds with the windows.  If there are built-in features in the room, such as a fireplace or decorative pillars, the photographer will likely take the photos from an angle to include those features. Keep that in mind as well.

Brighten Up. Bring some color, freshness and serenity to your listing by staging a few nice flower arrangements on the dining room table, in a corner of the living room, and in a bedroom or large bathroom.  A bowl of apples or lemons or oranges in the kitchen always looks nice.  If you have a nice big attractive coffee table book, preferably home decor or architectural in theme, set it on your coffee table.  Remember, the goal is to make your place look like a clean, tastefully furnished hotel.

Freshen Up the Bathrooms. Many bathrooms are small and difficult to photograph.  Hide all of your personal bath and shower stuff and the bathroom trash cans.  Put on a new roll of toilet paper.  Neatly hang a few clean, colored towels and hand towels.  If you have room, put a nice looking candle or small plant next to the sink or bathtub.

Curb Appeal. The view of the front of your listing is very important.  Your goal is to make the front of the house appealing enough that buyers will want to see more. While the front yard is the most important, don’t neglect the back yard. It won’t look natural to have front yard photos of a beautifully manicured lawn and flower beds, with a back yard that is in disarray. Pull weeds, trim overgrown shrubs and low-hanging tree branches.  Rake,mow and edge the lawn.  Put away garden hoses.  Hide the garbage cans, yard tools, dead plants, empty pots and any other yard clutter. Lay down mulch wherever there is dirt showing in beds.   Move cars out of the driveway.  Sweep the porch and sidewalks.  If you have outdoor furniture, wipe it down and make sure that the cushions look clean and nice.

Preparation is Key. If your real estate photographer arrives, and they see that the home has not been prepared for the photo shoot, then you might be charged a cancellation fee and be forced to reschedule. Or, the photographer might move forward with the photo shoot, but the results will be unprofessional and they will not look good on your real estate listing. It is very important that you spend the time that is needed to make sure that your home is prepared so that the photographer has something to work with.

Planning for Pets while Selling my Home

As a fellow pet-owner, it’s sometimes hard to believe that some people simply don’t like animals, especially in their homes. When trying to sell and get top dollar for your property, it’s best to remove all signs of your furry family members. Why don’t (some) home buyers like your pet?

1. Nervousness. Pets and animals make some people very uncomfortable. Not everyone grew up with a family pet or enjoys trips to the zoo.

2. Fear. Real and irrational.

3. Inexperience. Pets are not always predictable, especially when they are alone with strangers in your home.

4. Your pets aren’t their pets. They imagine yours bite, jump, vomit, claw, drool, or are just plain hyper and naughty.

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The best thing to do when trying to sell your home is to relocate your pets while your home is on the market, at least while actively accepting showings. Locking them in the garage, basement, or laundry room isn’t fair to them and also blocks buyers from seeing every part of your home.

  • Ask a friend or relative to take care of your pets for a few days or weeks
  • Board them at a kennel

If you are absolutely unable to remove your furkids from the property, then at least minimize the objections and nuisance factors, real or otherwise:

  • Cat litter boxes & dog potty pads: Keep them out of sight and impeccably clean. Nothing turns off buyers faster than opening the door to the laundry room and being greeted by a full or stinky cat box.
  • Carpet & floor pet stains: Hire professionals to remove the stains. Buyers will spot them and form unfavorable opinions about the rest of the house. If the stains can’t be removed, remove the floor covering and replace it.
  • Pet odors & smells: Bring in a neighbor to do a sniff test before you put your home on the market. Try not to use air fresheners as people with allergies may react. Enzyme cleaners such as Simple Solution and Nature’s Miracle often do the trick.
  • Showings: Put your pets in a carrier and attach a note asking buyers not to disturb them. You may have the friendliest pets on the planet but you never know how they’ll react when a stranger sticks a hand into their space (especially when you aren’t home!).

Removing signs that you have a pet is a smart practice while prepping your home for sale. Why turn off a buyer from the get-go? First impressions are so important!

  • Seal up doggie doors
  • Put away food and water bowls when not in use
  • Vacuum religiously, every day. Sometimes twice a day!
  • Pick up pet toys and hide them away
  • Pack up cat trees and other signs of cat paraphernalia
  • Remove photos of pets from refrigerator, table tops, and walls
  • Pack up all cages, carriers, and other tell-tale signs that a pet lives in your home

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Home Seller Checklist

Preparing to sell your home? Here are some quick tips to attract strong buyers. (Print Version)

  • Clean and Declutter – Cramped rooms are a buyers’ turnoff, so make sure you open up and brighten each room. Start with the furniture – remove the oversized pieces, or those that don’t fit the room’s main purpose. For example, get rid of one of your living room end tables, and remove the desk from your family room. Buyers should see there is enough space in the house for their needs.
    • Next, look at your countertops, shelves, and inside cabinets. Keep the knick knacks to a minimum, and the decor neutral so buyers can easily picture bringing their lives into your home.
  • Make Necessary Repairs – There are two kinds of repairs you should consider before selling your home. The first are cosmetic repairs. These are the “nice to haves” for buyers, and the associated costs should be relatively low. Repaint rooms to be less bold, and replace outdated light fixtures or hardware. The overall goal is that your home should feel fresh and modern.
    • Second, you should get a presale home inspection to determine any fixes that could affect your home’s ability to sell. You know if you have an aging roof or radiator, but an inspection will tell you if they’ll need to be replaced in order to get the sale approved.
  • Get Curb Appeal – Picture yourself as a buyer pulling up to your home for the first time. The lawn is well cared for, the landscaping is impeccable, and the front door has a fresh coat of paint. These natural observations set the tone for the entire walk through, so don’t underestimate the importance of curb appeal.
    • In addition to the details noted above, make sure your house is well lit at night, and easy to find. Buy new, larger house numbers so buyers don’t drive past it by accident. Brush off any walkways so buyers have an easy time getting to the front step.
  • Hire an Agent, Set a Price – Last year, sellers using real estate agents to sell their homes netted $26,300 more on average than those who chose not to hire an agent. $26,000! Agents understand the local market and the marketing practices necessary to sell your home. Give me a call TODAY at 720-891-9000.
  • Offer Up Your Home’s History – There is a lot of public record data out there, but wouldn’t you rather buyers hear it directly from you? Create a simple binder showcasing the price you paid, past owners and price history, and any upgrades you’ve made to the property. Include a page with recently sold data of similar homes nearby, so buyers know that the neighborhood is in high demand!
  • Get Ready for Showings and Open Houses – When a buyer is coming to look at your property, it’s important that you leave your home for the duration of the visit. Make sure your home looks and smells clean, and then get out of Dodge until they’ve left.

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Should I Hire an Agent to Sell My Home?

Yes! Read below for three great reasons you should consider hiring a professional real estate agent to sell your home.

1. PRICE – Last year, the typical for sale by owner (FSBO) home sold for $208,700, while homes sold agents went for an average $235,000.

Nearly half of FSBO sellers choose that route because they want to avoid paying an agent’s commission fee. But in realty, we see that sellers using an agent net more on the sale than FSBO sellers – even after the commission is paid.

15% of FSBO sellers say that getting the right price for their home is the most difficult part of the sale.

2. MARKETING & EXPOSURE – More than 92% of home buyers search online for homes, and they agree that the most stressful part of the buying process is finding the right property.

When an agent lists your home on the MLS, it will appear on the popular home search sites. Buyers can also check out property details like beds, baths, and square footage, and view high quality photographs showcasing your home’s best features.

Meanwhile, less than 20% of last year’s FSBO sellers posted their homes on local or national search sites, or on online classified sites. The most commonly used marketing tool by FSBO sellers is a yard sign.

3. PAPERWORK & NEGOTIATION – No one likes red tape. Understanding and performing paperwork is a most difficult task for many FSBO sellers. Agents manage buyer and seller transactions every day. You shouldn’t be expected to know everything, but agents have the expertise needed to get you the most for your home.

WHEN YOU HIRE AN AGENT, YOU GET:

  • The right listing price, and a built-in negotiator to make sure you get nothing less
  • Visibility on home search sites and other online marketing channels
  • The bare minimum of paperwork, and knowledge that will make you confident when you head to the closing table

Are you ready to hire a real estate professional? Give me a call today at 720-891-9000.

5 Things No One Tells You About Selling Your Home

1. Your closets should be mostly empty. Every buyer is looking for storage, and you’ve likely outgrown yours. Appeal to potential buyers by decluttering your closets, or even putting some of your storage into an off-site storage unit while your home is on the market. Make sure that what you do leave behind is neat and organized.

2. Web appeal is the new curb appeal. By the time a buyer shows up to look at your home, they will have likely toured it via online photos. What does this mean? First, that your home needs to look its absolute best when the listing photos are taken. Second, it’s important to include all the home’s best features in the online listing photos. Whether it be a hot tub, a large backyard or a great basement bar area, your buyers should know what to expect when they arrive for a showing or open house.

3. The first two weeks are the most important for sellers. If you’re thinking you’ll price your property high and bring down your price gradually if needed, think again. Homes receive four times the traffic in the first two weeks after listing, so a property lagging on the market can be a red flag to today’s buyers.

Think about the eager buyers who will see your home in “Just Listed” ads across the web and in email alerts, and offer them a fair price right away. The feeling of getting early showings or an offer will far outweigh the feeling of an offer that comes after you’ve lowered your price a month later.

4. You need to be ready to show at any time. Today’s buyers are excited and competitive. They may be willing to drop everything in order to see your home the minute it comes across their screen. As a result, you must be vigilant to clean your home after every meal and between laundry days. Don’t leave for work, or even a quick trip to the store, without making sure your home could be toured before you return.

5. Be ready to sweeten the deal. We’re still in a moderate seller’s market, so most sellers are at an advantage. But if your home isn’t quite modern enough, or isn’t as nice as the one down the road, you may have to sweeten the pot by paying closing costs, buying a home warranty for the buyer, or even just getting a pre-sale home inspection so buyers are confident in your home’s ability to sell as-is.

The takeaway? Don’t assume that a seller’s market means you’ll get multiple offers and your choice of well qualified buyers. Be realistic about how your home will be received, and you could end up selling sooner.

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6 Homeowner Hacks You Can Put to Use When Selling

1. Ammonia in the oven will loosen harden spills in the oven; wipe clean.

2. Lemon KoolAid in the dishwasher to clean stains.

3. Vanilla mug or ramekin in the oven for smell of baking.

4. Dryer sheets on a fan for quick deodorizer of a stinky room.

5. Microwave bowl of water for 2-3 minutes. Steam loosens spills; wipe clean.

6. Clean the drain with common household items. Boil a pot of water, pour down drain. Follow with 1/2 cup baking soda. Let sit for 3 minutes, then pour 1 cup hot water with 1 cup vinegar on top.

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How Can I Sell My Home Quickly?

While not always guaranteed, there are things you can do to help your home seller faster. Read on!

1. Know your local market.

Across the country, we’re still in a seller’s market, and price gains are slowing. But it’s important to look at local conditions, right down to the homes that just sold down the street, when selling your home. We can determine your Smart Home Price, an estimated home value that will appear on national real estate sites where most homebuyers will first find out about your home. Check your Smart Home Price, and reach out to me at 720-891-9000 if you’d like to discuss it further or make changes to the value.

2. Focus on the first few weeks.

In today’s market, buyers don’t have a ton of inventory to look over. So when a home lags on the market, buyers often become suspicious. That’s why the first two weeks are the most important for sellers, even if you aren’t in a rush to sell your home. Together, we can determine the “sweet spot” for your asking price – high enough that you get what you need to move on, but low enough that buyers bite early on. Then, we’ll determine the best marketing strategy to pull in early showings and quick offers.

3. Think like a buyer.

More than 9 in 10 buyers will search for homes online, so buyers in your area will know what features are standard in homes like yours. Before you list, look up local homes and see what kind of condition they’re in. Do they all have updated, modern kitchens? Open floor plans? Perfectly staged rooms?

Now think realistically about how your home compares. If it stacks up, then you should have no problem selling within the same price range as those homes. If your home could use a lot of work, then we’ll have to work together to find a fair price for the property. We can also make some inexpensive visual fixes, like replacing hardware or light fixtures, painting bold rooms, and staging the home so it appears more neutral to buyers.

As a reminder, if your home is in better condition than most around you, you can edge the price higher, or wait for multiple offers to roll in!

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The 6 Best DIY Tips to Prep Your Home for Sale

1. Pretend to be a buyer and pull up to your house. Imagine you’re seeing your home for the first time. Make sure it looks clean and inviting by cleaning the sidewalks, and trimming or updating the landscaping.

Pro Tip: Buyers are naturally drawn to unique front doors, so consider painting yours a complementary, fresh color like teal, red or yellow.

2. Powerwash the exterior. Instead of repainting your home, try powerwashing it to freshen the exterior. Paint the trim (preferably white) to give it an extra pop.

Exception: If your home is red or brown, you may want to reconsider repainting it. Those are the least popular colors for potential buyers. The most popular home exterior colors are white and yellow.

3. Paint only what’s needed inside. Try to avoid repainting every room, if you can. Focus on touching up the areas with scuffs or holes from previous wall hangings.

Exception: It’s important that your wall colors be neutral so buyers can see your home as a clean slate. If you have bold or unique walls, repaint the rooms so they don’t stand out. And yes, this includes kids’ rooms.

4. Wash your windows. Buyers love light and there’s no easier way to add light to a room than to make sure the windows are clean. Be sure to wash both inside and outside, and consider hiring a professional if you have hard-to-reach windows.

Pro Tip: You’ll save money and see less streaking when you use newspaper instead of paper towels.

5. Quick kitchen updates. Buyers love an updated kitchen, but it’s not worth your money to gut the whole thing. If you have old wooden cabinets, consider painting them white, and adding new hardware and a chic backsplash. If your lighting fixtures scream mid-90’s, replace them with inexpensive modern versions.

Pro Tip: The cheapest way to create a modern look in an outdated kitchen is to replace your countertops with – gasp! – laminate. While your current laminate is probably outdated, a variety of fresh laminate countertop options are available at a fraction of the cost of marble or granite.

6. The garage is not a dumping zone! The last thing you want potential buyers to think is that you don’t have enough storage in  your home. If need be, rent a storage unit for any furniture or boxes that don’t fit easily in your home and garage. Buyers may need a certain number of garage spaces for their vehicles or even a boat, so it’s important they see each stall ready for use.

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Is it Cheaper to Buy or Rent in Denver?

These are good housing bubbles.

Trulia’s Winter 2013 Rent vs. Buy report is out. They use a fairly complex set of data to come up with their results (at least they seem complicated to this English major.) But what they reveal has got us excited: In Denver, Colorado, it is up to 53% cheaper to buy a home than to rent.

Yeah. 53%.

The percentages vary based on your tax bracket, what interest rate you can qualify for, and how long you plan to stay in your home, but most combinations still result in significant savings over renting. See the full report here.

So if you’re in the Denver Metro Area and are thinking of making the leap to home ownership, the numbers are saying it’s a good time. Mortgage interest rates can’t get much lower than this. True, there’s low inventory and you’ll need to really be on top of things to snag the place you want, but that’s what you’ve got us for! See what’s available in your price range and area here, and set up listing alerts to keep you on top of what becomes available each day. And call Marty to get started at 720-891-9000.