Solar Eclipse 2017

August 21 marks the “sight of a lifetime,” a full solar eclipse that can be seen across North America. This solar eclipse is special because it will reach totality, which is when the sun is fully covered by the moon. The catch is…totality can only be viewed across a 60-70 mile radius. While Colorado isn’t in the direct line of totality, nearby states are. Whether you decide to travel to see the full coverage of the sun or stay in Denver to see partial coverage, the sight will be breathtaking. We have a few tips and tricks for your solar eclipse viewing experience.

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If you decide to travel…

Seeing the eclipse at totality is worth the travel. This incredible sight is awe-inspiring, tear-inducing, and maybe even life-changing. We can’t stress it enough, though, plan ahead. All Denverites (should at this point) know how rough I-25 and I-70 get during rush hour, and traffic on these main routes will be infinitely worse the day of the eclipse. Give yourself double or even triple the amount of anticipated drive time and be prepared to sit in some peak ski-season-esque traffic. Good tunes, podcasts, or breaking out the old road tripping games can help make this part of the adventure more enjoyable.

Wyoming and Nebraska are the closest spots for viewing the eclipse at totality. You may still be able to get a hotel room, but most have been booked out for weeks and any openings are going for record-high prices. Camping or driving in day-of (don’t forget about the traffic) may be your best bet for this solar eclipse. Here are the closest places to view the eclipse at totality.

Where: Wheatland, Wyoming

Distance from Denver Metro Area: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Extra Info: You’ll get approximately 51 seconds of totality

Where: Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Distance from Denver Metro Area: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Extra Info: Scotts Bluff National Monument is a convenient and absolutely gorgeous place for eclipse viewing

Where: Glendo, Wyoming

Distance from Denver Metro Area: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Extra Info: Head to Glendo State Park for best viewing opportunities

Where: Alliance, Nebraska

Distance from Denver Metro Area: 4 hours

Extra Info: Go to Carhenge for the viewing, you’ll get to see the eclipse plus a car version of Stonehenge, definitely a win-win

Wyoming and Nebraska are your closest options for full eclipse viewing. But NASA has an interactive map of all the other places you can visit to see this breathtaking phenomenon. To receive text updates on the eclipse, simply text the word “ECLIPSE” to 888777.

Since travel isn’t for everyone…

Work schedule, finances, mobility, and other factors mean travel isn’t accessible to everyone. Never fear! There are numerous opportunities to see partial coverage here in Denver, and while the partial eclipse may not induce as many tears as the eclipse at totality, it still promises to be incredible and awe-inspiring.

A number of places in Colorado are hosting viewing parties, complete with fun events, food and drink specials, exhibits, and more to celebrate the event.

In the Mountains:

Vail’s Walking Mountains Science Center will be hosting a free viewing at the Westin Riverfront & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. They will be providing free admission and solar filter glasses for the viewing!

A-Basin is opening up the base of the mountain for eclipse viewing. You can hike up the mountain, or take advantage of free chairlift rides! Don’t forget to bring a pair of glasses with you. 

In Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation Discovery Center is having an entire party to celebrate the solar eclipse! The party is included in the $10 price of general admission. Bring a pair of glasses just incase they run low.

Local Denver Spots:

Most local libraries are hosting viewing parties and providing free glasses while supplies last. Many locations will also be offering education and eclipse programming.

The Denver Museum of Nature and Science will also be holding an eclipse party from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., free with general admission ($16.95/adult). They will be providing special programming in addition to the solar eclipse viewing. Glasses will be provided first-come, first-serve and when supplies run out additional pairs can be purchased in the gift shop.

Blue Moon RiNo will be hosting an eclipse party, partnering with radio station Alice 105.9 to bring brews and tunes to an already magical experience. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with complimentary glasses plus enticing food and drink specials.

Declaration Brewing Company is also hosting a solar eclipse viewing party from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and you really can’t beat Declaration’s amazing brews plus a spectacular space event! Declaration promises souvenir beer glasses, drink specials, yard games, and food trucks to make the party unforgettable.

The suburbs aren’t letting Denver have all the fun. Tavern Littleton is partnering with Historic Downtown Littleton to host an epic eclipse viewing party. Festivities go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with free viewing glasses and food and drink specialties. The Arapahoe Community College Astronomy Department will be in attendance offering programming and eclipse expertise.

About those glasses…

We’ve mentioned solar filter glasses a few times. These are an absolute must for safely viewing the solar eclipse. NASA’s safety tips  make it clear that regular sunglasses, no matter how dark, will not suffice. Staring directly at the sun can cause eye damage. Check out this list for recommended places to access safe solar eclipse viewing glasses and filters. If you are in a location to view totality, be sure to take your glasses off at the point of totality for the full breathtaking effect of the eclipse.

If you missed it…

Never fear! Another eclipse is estimated to happen in 2024 and 2045’s solar eclipse will happen directly over Colorado. There is also an eclipse simulator and this virtual experience from CNN that gives you a glimpse at the full experience.

Did you see the eclipse? Share your stories, reactions, and photos with us on our Facebook page

Solar Energy: Just a Fad or Worth the Investment?

Solar panels and other renewable energy sources are a big investment. It’s easy to wonder…is this a worthwhile investment for my home or just something popular that will be irrelevant a few years from now? Solar power is a growing industry that’s here to stay. The positive impact it will have on your home and the environment as a whole is well worth the investment and can save you money on electric and energy bills in the long run.

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A renewable energy source, solar power is unique because it does not emit harmful greenhouse gases in the energy generation process. The most abundant source of renewable energy, this powerful energy source is already used by many homes and businesses. There are a few types of solar energy systems. Solar power simply refers to any system that converts the sun’s light or heat into usable energy.

There are two primary systems for harnessing solar energy – active and passive. Active solar systems convert the sun’s heat or light into usable energy using mechanical or electrical devices. Passive solar systems don’t require mechanics or moving parts. They are specifically designed to collect and store heat energy from sunlight for heating or electric.

In the last ten years residential solar has skyrocketed, more than tripling the number of homes with solar. Over 1 million homes in the United States alone have rooftop solar in their homes. It is projected that by 2020 nearly 4 million homes will have rooftop solar.

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(Graphic from Namasté Solar)

 

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In addition to the obvious benefit of taking good care of the earth and making sustainable, environmentally friendly choices…solar energy also has more personal benefits for your home, family, and budget.

  • Save money on electric and heating bills. While you will have to spend some money upfront for solar panels, the money you will save using renewable energy will cover the costs and decrease your bills.
  • There are solar energy tax credits, incentives, and rebatesThe federal government offers a tax credit and many states, local governments, and municipalities offer additional credits. Depending on location, other solar energy incentives and rebates exist, adding another layer of financial benefit.
  • Solar power isn’t limited to sunny places. Sunlight still gets through clouds, and while diffused sunlight is not as ideal as direct, it can still be converted into energy.
  • Creates more jobs. Employment in the United States solar industry has skyrocketed and will continue to grow with the projected growth of home solar energy use. According to SolarCity, “employment in the U.S. solar industry recently surpassed 200,000 people – that’s more than the oil and gas extraction industry, and three times more than the coal-mining industry.”

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The first step to introducing solar energy to your home is to get a quote. Companies like SolarCity, Namaste Solar (a local Colorado company) EnergySage, SunRun, NRG Home Solar, SunPower, and more will often offer free quotes and estimates to help you find the right solar panel option for you.

If you aren’t ready to jump fully in with solar panels, there are lots of smaller ways to get your feet wet in the sustainability and renewable energy game.

  • Unplug electronics when not in use. Even when devices are turned off, if they remain plugged in they can still use electricity. Get a power strip that turns off, unplug your microwave and toaster when not in use, don’t leave your phone charger plugged in when your phone isn’t charging, and always remember to turn lights off when not in use! You’ll save energy and reduce your electric bill.
  • Power devices with rechargeable batteries. Amazon has a wide selection of rechargeable batteries and chargers, and this easy way to use less energy is quite convenient. Once you start using solar panels, you won’t even have to use electricity to charge the batteries!
  • Get a solar oven and/or solar water heater. Solar water heaters use the sun to heat a reserve water connected to the plumbing. Solar ovens can be purchased or built. Cook your food with the power and heat of the sun, saving tons of electricity and starting small on the road to solar energy.
  • Use daylight whenever possible. Especially in sunny Colorado, the power of our natural light is incredible! Practice not turning the lights on if a room is already well lit by the sun.

All in all, solar energy can decrease your carbon footprint, help the environment, save you money, and contribute to the growing industry of renewable energy. A win all around!

Your August Checklist

August marks the beginning of the end of a summer that went by way too fast, but there is still so much to enjoy! Instead of getting down with the back-to-school blues, we have some great ways to keep the fun alive and get prepared for the next season.

Denver Staycation

Remember our blog about staycationing? The perfect way to keep the summer fun alive when school is back in session is a few weekend adventures. Denver is filled with so many exciting places to go and fun activities, weekend staycations never have to end!

Those Perfect Summer Nights

This summer has been brutally hot, but we’re finally starting to get those cool summer evenings we longed for. Enjoy the perfect summer evenings with drinks around the back patio, picnics in the park, or even hanging around a bonfire. The perfect way to spend a calm weekend night or wind down after a long day in the office or at school.

Family Meal Prepping

Back-to-school can mean time for some of the not as fun tasks, like planning meals and making lunches. Getting the kids involved can make this a family event, and maybe even a fun one! The kids get to feel part of the process (and maybe making a few choices for themselves will get them excited about a healthy lunch), and you get some bonding time in.  Plus, get a two-for-one and prep your healthy lunches too!

Go Camping

Colorado offers endless places to camp, and there are many dispersed camping areas that don’t require reservations or permits. Last-minute camping trips are easy if you car-camp, and with so many camping spots near Denver, you can even just camp for one night for a fun overnight with family or friends!

Back-to-School Shopping

One of the most exciting parts of going back to school is the new things! It’s so fun to shop for new outfits and gym clothes, notebooks, backpacks, and school supplies. It’s also the perfect opportunity to clean out the closet and get rid of things you (or the kids) no longer needs. There are lots of great places in Denver where you can donate things ready for a new home. Even if you don’t have kids, a little shopping and closet-purging is a great end-of-summer consolation prize.

Car & Home Maintenance 

After road trips and endless trips to the mountains for hiking and camping, your car may be ready for some maintenance! Get a general check up for brakes and tires, change the oil, and clean out the back to make room for whatever sport or adventure is next! Home maintenance is important too. Finish up any summer projects you began, with school starting you might not find as much time to finish them up! The last warm months of the year are the perfect time to finish up home repair projects, especially outdoor ones.

Harvest Time

Did you plant a garden this year? End of summer is usually harvesting time. Plan a big potluck or fun event with family and friends to enjoy the fruits of your labor (heh heh). Fresh fruits and veggies are wonderful, and if you didn’t get to gardening this year perhaps this will inspire next year’s urban farming venture!

 

How are you spending your August? Let us know, we’d love to hear your plans, adventures, and ideas!

The Pros and Cons of Paying Off Your Mortgage Early

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HOW TO PAY OFF YOUR MORTGAGE EARLY

Pay a little extra each month. Any payments made over the minimum payment go to your principal on the loan, instead of towards the interest. Over time you can significantly reduce the amount owed and cut down the time of loan repayment, even by years (see graph).

Refinance to lower interest rate or shorter-term loan.
Both options lower the total interest you are paying, either due to the lower rate (if you don’t already have a low-interest rate) or the shorter amount of time for the interest to build. This allows you to save money long-term, either through reduced monthly payments because of the lower interest rate or by paying the loan off faster.

Downsizing.
If getting rid of your mortgage faster, or altogether, is important, downsizing can be a great way to get there. Selling your house and using the profits to purchase a smaller home could mean having no mortgage at all, or at least a smaller one. Using the same monthly payment as before you could be debt-free faster.

THE PROS

Save money! Interest builds up, especially over the course of a 30-year loan. Paying off your mortgage early can save tens of thousands of dollars on built-up interest.

Return on investment (ROI).
When you put your dollars towards your home, you know exactly what your return on investment will be. Real estate, the stock market, and the economy are ever-changing and investing in your home is a comforting way to be sure that your money is going to the right place.

Reduced cost of living.
Mortgage payments take up a big part of one’s take-home paycheck. Getting your mortgage paid off faster allows for a lower cost of living. This can create more financial freedom, allowing you to save money, which can then be put into retirement, kids’ college funds, travel, and more. It could also give you the chance to work fewer hours, or even work a job you always wanted but previously couldn’t afford the pay cut.

THE CONS

Lose the tax break. Mortgage interest paid throughout a year can be listed as a deduction on your taxes if you itemize. Taxes are complicated, so it’s important to talk to an accountant or tax specialist while figuring out if the tax deduction is worth keeping the longer loan.

Lost diversification.
From Todd Tresidder, a financial mentor, “this one is ‘the biggie’ so pay close attention… Most investor portfolios are denominated in their domestic currency and thus carry the risk that inflationary government policies will depreciate their investment purchasing power over time. A residential real estate mortgage is the only practical way for most people to short their domestic currency and hedge against inflationary economic policy.”

Life happens.
There are times when extra income could be better spent on investments, retirement, a more comprehensive healthcare plan, college funds, and more. For many Americans, medical bills are the primary cause of bankruptcy and investing in a better healthcare plan could be a wiser financial decision over paying off a mortgage faster. In some cases, insurance could be a more financially secure option than a paid-off mortgage.

Investments. Many hold the opinion that it is better, from a long-term perspective, to put extra income into investments rather than higher mortgage payments. Saving for retirement, investing in stocks, and having a diverse investment portfolio are things that can, over time, bring you even greater financial freedom and stability.

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Madison President New CAR Chairman of the Board

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“When you come from a family of real estate agents, with three generations of Realtors® before you, the values of a Realtor® are instilled at so young an age they are second-nature. There is a built-in passion for real estate. Long hours of serving clients, mentoring and teaching peers, and volunteering on behalf of Realtors® and home-ownership are just a part of what goes into being a caring and dedicated real estate agent who gives back.

As young kids, we were taught to live in your passion and help make it better than it was before. For me, being deeply involved with the Colorado Association of Realtors and representing my peers in any capacity I can is what helps fill my cup in life. Recently I was elected as the next Chairman of the 25,000+ member Association and the hard work begins this November when I take the reins for a year as the Chairman Elect. The following November will begin my term as the Chairman of the Board, where I will spend my time guiding the Board of Directors through challenging issues in our industry while making sure that every member knows what the value of their membership means to them and their clients.

As Realtors® we adhere to a higher level of ethics than anyone in real estate. We take an oath to work by a Code of Ethics and we agree to resolve issues collaboratively rather than through the court system whenever possible. We fight for the rights of private property ownership and we lobby on behalf of the millions of homeowners in the US who still believe that owning a home is a key tenet of the American Dream. When I set out on this path I would never have dreamed of meeting with our elected officials in the halls of Congress to tell the story of homeowners and the struggles home ownership brings for many of our peers. From protecting mortgage interest deductions to flood insurance costs and coverage, to ensuring that affordable housing is not just a wish but a reality, this is what we work for and why I wake up excited to tell these stories and create energy around making lives better. That is my commitment as the new CAR Chairman Elect and will remain my commitment when I begin the role of CAR Chairman of the Board. 

Luckily, because of the team we have at Madison & Company Properties, this new endeavor will not affect my position as president of the company. Our staff and leadership are set up to ensure that nothing is missed on our end and I am forever grateful to have such an amazing team to work with. We are continually dedicated to becoming better at what we do, and my new role with CAR is an exciting opportunity to further enhance the services we offer to our clients and our company. Thank you for being part of this amazing journey, I can’t wait to see what comes next!

– Justin

Madison Quarter 2 Report 2017

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A Denver Staycation

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Itchin’ for adventure, but lacking time or resources to get away for a long time? Denver has the answers. Sometimes it is easy to forget the endless adventure opportunities that are close to home, and Denver has an abundance of places to visit, things to eat and drink, and sights to see. You don’t have to go far to create new memories.

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parks and picnics

Independence Day 2017

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_Baseball

_Blackhawk

_Camping

_Cherry Creek Arts Fest

_Elitch Gardens

_Fireworks

_Hike

_Rock Ledge Ranch

_Royal Gorge

It’s going to be an amazing weekend! Tag @madisonprops and #madisonprops in your social media posts so we can stay up-to-date with all of your 4th of July adventures!