Columns

Vail Daily column: Explaining the seller's property disclosure form

September 4, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

I recently sold a house and I am now in the process of buying another. When I sold my house, my broker sent me a seller’s property disclosure form and told me to fill it out. I went through and checked off all of the boxes I understood and skipped the ones I was confused on. I was not sure what happened with the form after that. Now that I am on the buying end of the deal, I have just received a copy of the seller’s property disclosure filled out by the seller of the home I am purchasing. He kind of did what I did, checking a lot of “do not know” boxes and he even had a couple of question marks. Now I am supposed to sign it, according to my broker. How can I get some more questions answered and if I sign it, then does that mean I have agreed and accepted everything he said, or didn’t say?

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Vail Daily column: Sticking with my convictions

September 4, 2015 — 

I am a man of my convictions.

If you have spoken with me in the past year or so regarding mortgage financing, then you have heard me stress that interest rates will be going higher very soon. You may have heard me say there is nowhere for rates to go but higher! Or, the Federal Reserve is scaling back their bond purchasing stimulus which will ultimately force rates higher. Or, with this much national debt, inflationary levels will start to rise soon which will take interest rates higher in unison.

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Vail Daily column: What's your value proposition?

September 3, 2015 — 

Everyone is interested in features, the proverbial “bells and whistles” that help differentiate our favorite products or services from the competition. Features focus on what a product or service will do.

When you “sell features,” you essentially describe some element of your product or service in the hope that the customer will be suitably impressed. For example, “our destination has 10,000 short-term rental units in four different villages plus other areas!”

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Vail Daily column: Best response to volatile markets? Stay calm

September 3, 2015 — 

In recent months, stocks have fallen sharply from their record highs, with one-day drops that can rightfully be called “dizzying.” As an investor, what are you to make of this volatility?

For one thing, you’ll find it useful to know the probable causes of the market gyrations. Most experts cite global fears about China’s economic slowdown, falling oil prices and anticipation of a move by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates as the key factors behind the stock market’s decline.

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Vail Daily column: Contributing individually and succeeding together

September 2, 2015 — 

This is so much more than a golf story, so stay with me on this one, OK?

You see, one of my favorite things about golf season is having the opportunity to participate and play in fundraising events. These are tournaments set up to help large and small charities alike raise money in a fun and competitive way.

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Vail Daily column: What is an operating agreement?

September 1, 2015 — 

You might reasonably think an operating agreement has to do with doctors, scrubbed-clean surgical suites and anesthesia. You might ponder whether one has something to do with a disclaimer you sign with a trembling hand before you agree to undergo the knife. Yikes. But, nah, not so much. Instead, an operating agreement has not a whit to do with your medical self. Unless, of course, you are a doc and have entered into a business deal with other docs.

OK, time for me to explain.

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Vail Daily column: I am sorry: The key to healing

August 30, 2015 — 

As it happens, I have amassed a readership for this Open Bar column. It is both humbling and thrilling to not only know that people are tuning in to my musings, but that they reach out to comment on thoughts that resonated with them. One such reader appreciated the sentiments in my last column regarding the outsized power of the words “thank you.” However, he was quick to point out that, as important as those two words are, they are eclipsed by three words that can work miracles: “I am sorry.” I could not help but agree. Were those words more frequently spoken, the need for legal services would dwindle and a legion of brilliant attorneys would be released to turn their talents to something more constructive. It is a blissful dream.

Blinded by Emotion

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Vail Daily column: Animals on the gridiron

August 29, 2015 — 

The chase is on! A Raven swoops while the Eagle dodges just out of reach. The Eagle pulls forward and is gaining yardage quickly. Another Raven cuts across, pushing the Eagle towards the edge. They are neck in neck, the Eagle dives ... touchdown!

In nature, we often see smaller birds following and pestering larger birds. I have seen ravens chasing after an eagle, and not just the ones on TV on Sunday afternoons. Many of our NFL teams are named after animals found in nature. Some teams are represented by ferocious predators, such as the Lions, Jaguars, Panthers, Dolphins, Falcons, Eagles and Bears. Compared to some of these, animals like the Cardinals, Colts, Rams, Ravens and even Colorado’s beloved Broncos, seem like rather unintimidating mascots. When you really think about it though, from the perspective of nature, in most game day matchups, there would almost always be a predictable winner.

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Vail Daily column: Should I invest in real estate or stocks?

August 28, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

In my opinion, the stock market is always a gamble. My wife and I argue about this all of the time since we do have stock investments. We worry because we have young children and we are trying to have saving​s​ to help them go to college in the next 10 years. Now, ​my wife’s​ parents have ​driven up from Denver and they have ​joined​ in​ the conversation​,​ since they are worried about their retirement future​ with the stock market​‘s​ recent wobbles​. Being a Realtor, I am sure you would​ recommend buying real estate instead of stocks, which I am​ in​ favor of doing, but I need some verbal ammunition. Can you help me out?

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Vail Daily column: Control your emotions in volatile markets

August 27, 2015 — 

For the past few years, the stock market has moved up fairly steadily, with no major “corrections.” But thus far in 2015, we’ve already seen periods of volatility — enough, in fact, to make some investors jittery. Nervous investors may be more prone to make decisions based on short-term market movements — so how can you stay calm?

First of all, when evaluating your investment decisions, stay focused on those factors that have historically driven stock prices. The U.S. economy is growing at a reasonably good pace, and corporate earnings remain fairly strong. Plus, stocks may not be as undervalued as they were a few years ago — as measured by the price-to-earnings ratio — but they still aren’t overly expensive, either. Things can change, of course, but when market volatility seems to be primarily caused by short-term events, such as plunging oil prices, it’s important to look beyond the headlines to these less glamorous, but probably more important, fundamentals of good investing. By doing so, you can help avoid making fear-driven investment choices.

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Vail Daily column: Strong schools are important to the community

August 27, 2015 — 

Kids are back in school, and our educators are back at work filling these young brains with skills and knowledge that will serve them well now and into the future.

We’re fortunate to have a strong school system, both public and private, serving the needs of both primary and secondary education. Most would agree (who wouldn’t?) that education and a great school system is important to a community — it’s a key in workforce retention and attraction, and it’s key for our kids and families. It is hard to succeed in life without a strong educational foundation.

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Vail Daily column: Committed to change

August 26, 2015 — 

So the other day I received an email from a local merchant who shared their initial experiences with trying to make a change in their business based on some of the information they had found in my previous columns.

They were particularly focused on creating a positive work environment where people felt empowered and respected, and where customers felt appreciated. Their goal was to reduce turnover of staff and increase customer loyalty. They knew that if they really wanted to experience different results, the changes would have to start at the top, meaning the ownership would have to change the way they ran the business.

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Vail Daily column: The courtroom as theater

August 25, 2015 — 

Everyone likes a good show. Everyone likes to be amused and entertained. Even in the courtroom. Sick as it may be, think O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony, George Zimmerman and the recent James Holmes trial. And while a case before the court may be gripping in its own right, the performance of the attorneys counts for something too.

One of our assignments in law school was to put on a mock trial in moot court. Let’s pause and I’ll explain a couple of things. First, “mock” means, as A.I. would say, it’s “just practice.” Second, “moot” means “of little or no practical value or meaning.” Or better still, “purely academic.” Moot court is an academic exercise that most, if not all, law students go through to teach them how to put on a trial. So, our assignment was to prepare for and then present a pretend trial, which was delivered in the moot courtroom of the law school and presided over by a couple of honest-to-goodness judges, decked out in their judicial finery.

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Vail Daily column: The future with no pension plans

August 25, 2015 — 

I am too young to know the “retirement” that used to be equated with a big party and a gold watch. Times have changed and the term “retirement” has been redefined. It’ll never be the same.

More than likely, the last generation to enjoy pension plans, going away parties and gold watches were those of the Silent Generation; people born between the mid-1920s to the early 1940s. Why such benefits may have fallen by the way-side after this generation could be discussed in great length. However, I believe that it could also be simply synthesized.

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Vail Daily column: Eagle River has rebounded thanks to community support

August 24, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts.

As we all know, Colorado has a rich and fascinating history of mining that dates back to the late 1800s. Between 1991 and 1999, the Colorado Geological Survey inventoried abandoned and inactive mine sites on National Forest lands across the state. Of the 18,000 mine features they inventoried, 900 presented environmental problems significant enough for future study. About 250 of those were found to be causing significant or extreme environmental degradation.

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Vail Daily column: A sense of place

August 24, 2015 — 

The plane’s engines revved, we torpedoed down the runway, and we were airborne. Suddenly I was looking at all the familiar landmarks of my home from a whole new perspective. In fact, there was my neighborhood, and my house! The plane made a big turn, heading northeast, and we were looking south toward Castle Peak. The view from our kitchen window looks north to this unique lava capped mountain, so this seemed somehow exciting to have a sneak peek at the “other side of the mountain”.

The plane continued to rise and turn, and then we could see Holy Cross and Notch Mountain. The dam holding back Homestake Reservoir was also visible, and I could make out Homestake Valley and the Silver Bridge outside of Red Cliff. And yes, I know the bridge is green now, but once upon a time it was silver, and the locals still refer to it as the Silver Bridge.

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Vail Daily column: Back to school, back to work — seriously?

August 23, 2015 — 

Yes, seriously. It is easy to get caught up in the summer fun and excitement that happens here in our wonderful mountain playground. We all know there is something fun to do just about every day. Actually, there is something fun to do every day. Whether you like concerts or shopping, biking or fishing, hiking or rafting ... OK, I’ll stop there before I start sounding like a commercial for a tourism bureau. But the truth is we all know how much fun the summers are here in Eagle County.

The return of school buses and quiet whimpers of parents sending their last child off to college mark the return of fall. Unlike spring, whose connotations invoke thoughts of rebirth and rejuvenation, fall carries overtones of seriousness — at least it does for me. I’m not saying it is time to abandon all of the recreation and merriment that summer offers. Those activities are good for us all year round. But I am saying it is time to take an earnest look at ourselves and our businesses.

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Vail Daily column: The tragic greatness of Billie Holiday

August 22, 2015 — 

The year is 1915. Eleanora Fagan is born out of wedlock into a life of poverty. Her parents are African-American teenagers, but somehow Elenora will become one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. She will be dead at 44, a legendary figure with a cult-like following. You know her as Billie “Lady Day” Holiday.

If a legendary figure is someone who was famous and admired because of a particular expertise or ability, then Billie qualifies. But because she had TAO, her legendary status has grown enormously since her death over 56 years ago. What is TAO? It is not Chinese philosophy or religion, but instead TAO is a mnemonic device that fully describes her life and talent: Tragic, Authentic, Original.

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Vail Daily column: Animas spill may stimulate watershed solutions

August 21, 2015 — 

Editor’s note: This is the first of two parts.

On Aug. 5, about 3 million gallons of contaminated water burst out of an abandoned mine above Silverton and sent a plume of cloudy, orange water down Cement Creek to the Animas River, through the heart of Durango, and on into the San Juan River in New Mexico, the Navajo Nation and Utah. Downstream: Lake Powell.

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Vail Daily column: Property bargains still exist in Vail Valley

August 21, 2015 — 

Dear Joan,

I, along with several friends that love to visit Vail, have reached a point in our lives that we can finally afford to own instead of rent. We are, however, very discouraged because we feel we have missed all the bargains. The prices on everything seem to have gone up greatly in the last couple of years. We want to make a good (or great) investment, and we now feel we have missed the window of opportunity. Do you agree with our assessment of the market?

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Vail Daily column: Global events dampen probability of rate hikes

August 21, 2015 — 

The Federal Reserve is anxious to raise interest rates, kind of. While many sectors of the U.S. economy have been growing, which would lend reason for the eds to tighten things up a bit, there are some very real stress factors hitting other parts of the world. This week, those stressors started showing up in U.S. markets, marking the biggest stock sell off in over a year.

China has played a leading role with its stock market tanking over 40 percent, and for a while a lot of investment capital sought out the U.S. stocks as a safe haven as the Chinese devalued their currency and unemployment threatened to increase, boosting the value of many companies here. But other factors, including the collapse of oil to under $50 per barrel have sown seeds of doubt about our own economic growth, and many are speculating on what’s going to happen with the Middle East economies.

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Vail Daily column: Recognition is a team effort

August 20, 2015 — 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives at their annual conference recently recognized Vail Valley Partnership as a Chamber of the Year finalist.

Our corporate values — and living up to them 24/7/365 (366 next year as it’s leap year) — drive our efforts, and have resulted in a membership growth, enhanced programing, improved community collaboration, economic impacts of over $51 million, resulted in 92 percent of members renewing their membership and strong satisfaction from our members in our annual member survey. Those numbers got the attention of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and resulted in Vail Valley Partnership being named a finalist for Chamber of the Year.

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Vail Daily column: A college degree is still a smart investment

August 20, 2015 — 

Summer is almost over, which means it’s back-to-school time. If you have young children, then you may be purchasing backpacks, pencils, notebooks and similar items. But one day, you could be shopping for colleges — and when you do, you’ll find the bill is a little bit higher than the one you get from your local school-supply store. That’s why it’s never too soon to start saving.

College Costs

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Regular exercise can help with memory loss, cognition

August 17, 2015 — 

There is little doubt that exercise has many benefits to the overall health of people at any age. However, with a global increase in the senior population, there is much research being done on physical activity and brain aging.

Age-related cognitive decline is a normal part of aging. As with any living organism, the brain has a life cycle. While most of the cells within our brains were formed during prenatal development, there is a part of the brain that is capable of producing new brain cells. Our hippocampus, the region of the brain involved in the formation and retrieval of memories, learning, and emotions, continues to create new cells as we age. This process is called neurogenesis.

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Vail Daily column: The unrivaled power of thank you

August 17, 2015 — 

The human experience is a facade designed to trick us into believing we are not animals. Ensconced in a world of technological wizardry and environmental degradation, we strive mightily to distance our species from the muck and mire of our origins. Yet in many respects we remain ruled by our most base instincts toward violence, greed and sex. As the decades progress, there is a concerning dichotomy forming. Advances in communication, transport and medicine give us ever greater and longer access to other people. At the same time, the collective of humanity is splintering into niches that close us off from each other, draining interactions of their emotional connection. We are at once progressing and regressing. Lost in this evolution is the unifying force of manners. The prime casualty is the simple yet potent phrase of “thank you.”

THE GOLDEN RULE

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Vail Daily column: Choking down cherries

August 17, 2015 — 

Roses are red and so are their fruits! And some of my favorite fruits to forage for in the rose family are chokecherries! Chokecherries? A name like that can conjure up some unappetizing thoughts, but I insist, these are a not-to-miss late summer delight!

The Western chokecherry, Prunus virginiana, is a high shrub that grows in extensive thickets in well-watered, mountainous areas. It is a staple food source for bears and birds as they prepare to hibernate or migrate during the changing seasons. Throughout the month of August, the clusters of white blooms will dry and drop off revealing sweet, swelling, red to blackish berries, heavy enough to droop the branches low to the ground.

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Vail Daily column: Chinese troubles open window for US homeowners

August 14, 2015 — 

As many homeowners have noticed recently, mortgage rates are down, in some cases to the high 3 to low 4 percent range (depending on what you want to spend on closing costs). Many wonder what’s up and why this is happening and will it continue.

The answer, as it has been so often the last several years, has to do with world economic events, and in this case it’s China’s turn to mix things up.

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Vail Daily column: What is a 'resort area'?

August 14, 2015 — 

​Dear Joan,

I am ​intent on buying​ a second home in the Vail resort area. My husband and I are now locked in a battle over what constitutes “resort area.” I want to be in Vail or Beaver Creek; he insists that any place in this ​valley​ is considered resort property. I feel I can easily support my theory on what constitutes resort property​,​ simply by the prices, not to mention how close ​Vail Village and Beaver Creek​ are to skiing. What do you consider “resort” property when you are talking to your clients?

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It's your turn, it's your time; take the first step

August 13, 2015 — 

Have you ever spoken with someone who seems to always share stories about the people they know who have accomplished something great or who are always doing something fun? It happened to me the other day.

You know how it goes. You might be talking about climbing a 14er and someone might say, “I have a friend who has climber almost all of the 14ers here in Colorado.” And then you may ask them if they have ever climbed one and they answer, “No, I have not, but I hope to one day.”

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Vail Daily column: Addressing workforce challenges in our resort economy

August 13, 2015 — 

The 2014-15 workforce study conducted by Vail Valley Economic Development (part of Vail Valley Partnership), shows business owners and managers continue to maintain confidence about the economy in general and the health of their own businesses. The predictions for the upcoming year show an optimistic outlook. The study of local businesses has been remarkably predictive of our local economy over the years and is reason for continued optimism.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have our challenges. Respondents were asked to rate their experience finding employees and, for the fourth year, there was an increase in the number of businesses that have vacancies. Those who said their experience recruiting was “terrible” or “poor” increased from 9 percent to 19 percent, while those who candidates “good” or “excellent” decreased from 54 percent to 42 percent.

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