Northern Colorado Home Buyer's Guide | 2021

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Home Buyers Guide Choosing insurance for your home

Lock in a great rate Time to downsize

When to hire a property-management company

Home buying basics

Staging your home to sell

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northern Colorado Home buyers guide • 2021


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PUBLISHERS Greg Hoffman Scott Titterington EDITOR Kristin Titterington


To buy a home—A story of process and decisions Buying a home is often a daunting task. Start by finding a competent realtor who can guide you through the process. Decide what you want in the new place, get your money in place so you can move quickly when you find the right property and enjoy the move!


Handing off the headaches— How and why to hire a property-management company Get help with your rental property. A great property manager can help you determine how much to charge for rent, find renters, answer calls, manage repairs and so much more.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Emily Zaynard ADVERTISING SALES DIRECTOR Greg Hoffman Distribution manager Susan Harting COVER PHOTO iStock Photo CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lea Hanson, Greg Hoffman Linda Osmundson Scott Titterington

Departments 10

Staging your home to sell—Create a welcoming, fresh ambiance


Time to downsize—New spaces to fit your life


Choosing insurance for your home— Consider deductibles, coverage and limitations

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Realty industry contacts


Lock in a great rate—Plan carefully and know your options

Utilities company information List of Advertisers

ROCKY MOUNTAIN PUBLISHING PO Box 740, Fort Collins, CO 80522 (970) 221-9210 Northern Colorado Home Buyers Guide 2021 is a special publication of Rocky Mountain Publishing, Inc. Publication of this magazine does not constitute an endorsement of the products or services advertised. RMP reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason. The opinions expressed by contributors or writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Rocky Mountain Publishing. ©2021 Rocky Mountain Publishing, Inc. All rightsreserved. Reproduction without express written permission is prohibited.

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northern Colorado Home buyers guide • 2021



Downtown, uptown or out of town, you’re covered! “John helped us navigate the busy Fort Collins and northern Colorado market and we found the perfect house. From start to finish, he answered all of our questions and negotiated a great price.” —Greg and Stefanie Hoffman


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northern Colorado Home buyers guide • 2021


Staging your home to sell Create a welcoming, fresh ambiance Linda L. Osmundson lamps. Open curtains and blinds to enhance the space with natural light. Consider purchasing more lamps to brighten the space. For a showing appointment, turn on all the lights.

Repair and replace as needed If your home suffers foundation problems, fix them. Then, free sticky windows and doors. Replace damaged screens. Repair cracks and repaint.

Minimize furniture IT’S TIME TO SELL your home. To get the highest price, consider using staging techniques. Visit show homes and mimic their staging. Or consider hiring a professional stager. Present a welcoming, homey, comfortable spacious environment. Utilize these tips to accomplish a clean, decluttered move-in ready home.

Curb appeal Get rid of weeds and dead vegetation. Mow and trim the yard. Power wash the outside walls, nooks, crannies and shine the windows. Clear sidewalks. Clean or replace doormats. Arrange planters at the entrance. Hang a door decoration.

Inside spaces Inside, make every surface sparkle, especially in bathrooms. If your kitchen appliances are old, shine them up. Tackle ceilings,

baseboards and walls. Remember buyers will have different decorating preferences. Create a fresh canvas with neutral paint and no wallpaper. Allow purchasers to imagine how they might decorate the space.

fresh scent. Open windows to air out your house. Bake cookies, steam cinnamon sticks or add vanilla scented candles (although some people are sensitive to scented candles). Avoid plug-in fresheners because a buyer may have allergies.

Remove clutter

Stick with neutral colors

Declutter by removing and storing away anything not used on a daily basis. Accessorize surfaces with no more than three objects. Depersonalize by eliminating personal photos, keepsakes, monogrammed towels and refrigerator art. Move and store seasonal clothing in bins, some place other than closets. Get rid of unused clothing. Organize closet shelves, floor and hanging items to give the illusion of spaciousness. Add a scent of cedar.

Define rooms by function

Bring in the fresh air

Enhance with lighting

Get rid of odors and create a

Dust lighting fixtures and

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Rearrange your furniture to create a feeling of space and areas for conversation. Take out pieces too large for the room, like sectionals. Store the large pieces. Borrow or rent appropriately sized furniture. Fashion an easy-to-navigate, homey and open atmosphere.

Highlight the intended functions of each room— sleep, cook, relax, work, play.

Clean instead of replace Although hardwood floors and tiled baths/kitchen add value, spare the expense of replacing with something a buyer might not like. Instead, shampoo carpets, scrub vinyl and linoleum. Repair any damages, such as squeaky floors and stairs.

Choose a color theme incorporating the 60 percent, 30 percent, 10 percent rule. The 60 percent dominate color should be a neutral. Keep the 30 percent complementary color subdued. Use only 10 percent as a vibrant, eye-catching pop of color.

Outdoor living Design an inviting patio/deck, employing all the techniques used inside—a color scheme, comfortable furniture, plants, pillows, cushions, and lighting. And last but not least, turn on the lights and take out the trash!

Renting Nice Homes to Nice People for over 35 Years • Contact us at 970-224-4446 1630 South College Avenue Fort Collins, CO 80525

1113 North Cleveland Avenue Loveland, CO 80537

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Choosing home insurance Consider deductibles, coverage and limitations Lea Hanson Understand which weather perils your policy covers Not all policies cover every type of weather disaster. Flood, tornado, fire, etc. This includes sump pump coverage. Ensure that if you live in a wet area that a flooded basement is covered. Surface water is also usually not covered in most policies.

Understand split deductibles

HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE ISN’T A LUXURY; it’s a necessity. And not just because it protects your home and possessions against damage or theft. Virtually all mortgage companies require borrowers to have insurance coverage for the full or fair value of a property (usually the purchase price) and won’t make a loan or finance a residential real estate transaction without proof of it. You don’t even have to own your home to need insurance; many landlords require tenants to maintain renter’s insurance coverage. But whether it’s required or not, it’s smart to protect your property. David Wiegand, Financial Rep for Country Financial, walked me through the basics of homeowners insurance policies.

The most important concept buyers need to grasp, Wiegand says, is that “insurance is not a maintenance policy… it should be for major events.” In other words, end with a policy that you can afford, with the realization that claims will very likely be rare. Wiegand says when working with new clients, he first researches the normal number of claims people have made and uses that data to make recommendations. “Most people only make a claim on average once every ten years… so a higher deductible (and therefore a less expensive policy) makes sense for most people considering you also rarely make a claim.” Here are the biggest items Wiegand says not to overlook when shopping for a new policy or adjusting the one you have.

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Avoid overly low deductibles Wiegand says anything below $1000 is a “low” deductible. As mentioned above, you can save money by paying for a higher deductible plan that costs less and saving the money for a possible claim rather than spending more money each time for your premium.

Get the right coverage This is sometimes less obvious than it seems on the surface. Wiegand gives this example: If you don’t have your policy covering at least 90 percent of your home’s value or you may find yourself in trouble. Insurance payouts don’t always pay the full amount of a claim and you do not want to fall short in the case you need to make a major claim.

This is when there is one deductible for some types of claims and another deductible for others. Too many people have a split deductible but don’t realize it. Then, when they need to make a claim, they are understandably surprised and sometimes devastated.

Know your policy limitations There are many nuances here, but a common one is coverage of your personal property. For example, jewelry. Most policies only cover up to $2500 for jewelry, firearms and related equipment, and etc. There are so many intricacies within any policy—make sure you know what you’re buying.

Choose the right company This is a very broad concept and includes many things that are valued differently based on the individual. At least, Wiegand says, “Make sure the company you choose is financially strong enough to pay claims.” You can find ratings about claim service (rated by JD Powers).






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Lock in a great rate Plan carefully and know your options Lea Hanson proof of income for two years, and documentation about where you’ve lived the past two years.

What is “locking in a rate?”

MANY ABOUT-TO-BE HOME BUYERS begin their purchasing journey by casually sorting through listings in their area. While this certainly builds excitement and momentum for the homebuying process, it can be quite the heartbreaker in the end. Instead, says Carolyn Mountain, Residential Loan Officer and AVP with Western States Bank, meet with a loan officer first. Contrary to common assumption, a first-time home buyer can be any age. And, those who have purchased a home before do not necessarily experience greater ease nor a faster timeline when purchasing a subsequent one. Mountain

says people who are buying a house for the first time tend to think it’s akin to buying a car when in fact it’s much more complicated than that. After working in the industry several decades, Mountain says she’s seen many a buyer come to her with dreams and goals for a specific home they’ve seen for sale, but because they haven’t completed the steps of being pre-approved for a loan, the opportunity inevitably falls through the cracks and they experience disappointment for which they weren’t prepared.

Know your options Instead, Mountain says, “The best thing is to call up a loan officer and have a 30-minute

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conversation about what to expect BEFORE you begin shopping for homes.” This conversation can easily occur over the phone. And after having it, you’ll be able to broadly understand the loan process and what amount you might you qualify to borrow. Mountain says a little preparation can set you up for success for this initial meeting and doing such preparation will ease our process and timeline down the road, as well. To be prepared, you need to be able to communicate your expectations regarding mortgage payment, estimate how long you plan to be in the home, have two years of bank and wealth statements,

A rate lock is a guarantee assuring that a mortgage lender will honor a specified interest rate at a specific cost for a set period. The benefit of a mortgage rate lock is that it protects the borrower from market fluctuations. Locking in a rate is more complicated than most people think, Mountain says. Typically, you can’t lock in a rate until you’re under contract on a home. Additionally, the interest rate you’re offered depends on your credit score, income, and what your debts are. Historically, lenders have locked in rates for 30 to 60 days.

Get pre-approved Mountain says the goal ought to be to get pre-approved on a loan before you even look at a house to buy. If you’re in the market to purchase a home— whether it’s your first or fifth time doing so—make meeting with a lender your priority. And give yourself time. Time to collect financial documents, time to sign paperwork, time to see what types of homes are on the market. Plan ahead. Without this planning, you risk heartbreak if you’re shopping for a home that you can’t actually make an offer on.

Western Illinois Running Back, Clint Ratkovich Photo Courtesy of Western Illinois Athletics

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Time to downsize

Having a plan helps speed the process Linda L. Osmundson bills, receipts and statements you can find online. Otherwise, take pictures and shred the paper. Ask your tax accountant how long to keep tax supporting records. Store those in plastic bins in the basement or garage. Shred any documents older than needed. Avoid storage units.

Undecorate and store away

WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE to a smaller house, you can take several steps to make the process go more smoothly and efficiently. Whatever the reason for your lifestyle change—the house and yard suddenly seem too big and time consuming, the kids have left home, your budget has changed—having a process will help get the job done more quickly and keep you from going crazy.

measurements of your new space if possible. Give yourself three months and tackle one room at a time. Take photos of each room. When you look at the picture, what jumps out? Those are the most important items to keep. Start the job with a small area like the laundry room or linen closet. If your new location has only two bedrooms, eliminate items in current extra bedrooms.


Sort everything

Decluttering frees up space, especially if you’ve been in your home for years. Letting go of possessions you treasure is not easy. Consider these ideas and get rid of all the stuff cluttering your surroundings. Start early when selling your home. Get room

In every space, empty closets, cabinets, small furniture and drawers. Create a sorting system. Label four boxes – Keep, Sell, Trash, Donate. Never have a Maybe box! Decide immediately what to do with each thing you pick up. You might prefer two donation

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boxes—one for family and one for charity. Ask, “Have I used it in the last six months? Does it work? Is it damaged, stained or faded? Would one of the kids/grandkids want it?” Don’t guess who might want something. Ask them and document their answers. Gift legacy items in the near future.

Get rid of duplicates Each bedroom only needs two sets of sheets! Sell items via Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace or another online source. Have an estate or garage sale.

Go digital Take photos of every collectable, keep two favorites from each collection and create a memory album from photos. Discard

Limit surfaces to three to five favored objects. If your new space is too small for your large furniture, consider replacing it with furniture that doubles as storage, like ottomans, coffee tables and/or an entertainment center with cabinets. Wherever possible, organize with bins and baskets. Purchase drawer dividers, or create them from foil/wax paper boxes and egg cartons.

Go vertical Replace that wide dresser with a chest of drawers. Utilize wall space via shelving.

Declutter every room Start from the bottom up, especially in closets. Relocate items that belong elsewhere. In the garage or attic, remove everything, categorize into zones, add storage via organization systems, make use of wall space and purge. If all of this seems overwhelming, consider hiring professionals to help you. Then sit back and enjoy all your uncluttered space or smaller home.

Downtown real estate. Downtown experts. Most home buyers I work with want less driving and more walking – for work, dining, entertainment and more. That’s why more and more people are relocating to downtown areas. If you’re ready for downtown living in northern Colorado, call the downtown specialist.

Emily A. Heinz

Owner / Managing Broker / President

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To buy a home

A story of process and decisions Scott Titterington

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MY WIFE AND I RECENTLY downsized from a sprawly place in Old Town Fort Collins to a paired home in a development on the east edge of town. It was quite a change, and it took us a while to settle in. We went from a property with mature trees and a yard with little sitting areas and a separate garage to a paired home in an area that had been a wheat field a year before. Side note: A paired home is what I grew up calling a duplex. We had lived in that Old Town house for 19 years and enjoyed the lifestyle that went with it—cruiser rides around town, shady afternoons, walks to restaurants and bars. Once the kids left home, though, our minds began to shift. The house seemed cumbersome with too many little repairs and potential remodel projects and the yard needed upkeep, too. So, we decided to think about moving. But how do you decide where move? So many things go into it making that decision. And how do you weigh what’s more important? And then, if you’re planning to be in the new place for a while, how can you look into the crystal ball and see what your life might look like in several years? Basically, finding the right place to buy requires you to stay flexible and open and to consider a number of factors that range from lifestyle considerations to neighborhood and schools to how much the new

place “speaks” to you. An experienced, competent realtor will guide you through the buying process, but you have to make the hard decisions for yourself. “It’s a personal relationship,” says Todd Fields, Broker Associate and partner at The Group. “We’re going to be talking on the phone every day for the next two and a half months.” Partnering with a competent, experienced real estate agent can help you, as a buyer, make informed, educated decisions when finding a house and writing a contract, which will then have a much better chance at being accepted and lead to a sale.

Wants and needs When we were down-sizing, we talked about what we did and didn’t want in a new

place. We determined that we needed a yard for the dogs, but only a small yard. We also wanted something that wasn’t going to require lots of maintenance work or remodeling, so that meant something recently remodeled or new. We knew where we would be OK living and where we wanted to avoid. A real estate agent can walk you through a series of questions to help you determine what you’re looking for and then can track down properties that fit or are close to your wants and needs.

Buyer priorities When people are looking at buying a house, they consider the following factors in this order: • Neighborhood/schools • Curb Appeal and WOW Factor • Square footage and garage size • Floor plan • Functional basement • Sturdy structure • Quality windows, doors including the garage door • Updated mechanical & electric systems, sewer pipes • Updated finishes • Maintained hygiene List provided by Todd Fields, Broker Associate and partner at The Group.

It’s the money Unless you are able to scratch out a check for the full amount, you’re going to need to find a lender for your home. “It’s critical to have an excellent local lender who is in touch with the market and gets you to the closing table and properly funded on time,” says Fields. Before applying for a loan, get your finances shored up and your credit score up. Most lenders want to see a minimum credit score of 620, but over 740 will get you the best loan rates. Once lenders approve you for a loan for an appropriate amount, they will give you a pre-approval letter that can prove to sellers that your offer is real, which can be the difference between getting a contract or not. You’ll also need to determine how much you can afford to put down while still having cash on hand to cover

any improvements, such as new mechanical, carpet, paint, appliances or landscaping.

The hunt is on Now it gets real. You’ve determined what you want, and your lender is solid. Your real estate agent will begin to find properties for you to look at. When the right one pops up, you’ll

need to act quickly and be ready to go see a new listing. “If the property is marketed correctly, which includes pricing, staging, great pictures and a pre-inspection,” says Fields, “the buyer should be ready to write a contract.” Your real estate agent will guide you through how to make a smart offer based

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The mosh pit Buying a home in a fast-moving market Depending on what price level that you’re buying at, buying a home in a fast-moving market can feel a little bit like getting bounced around in mosh pit. While you must be prepared and educated about buying, it’s not quite a street fight out there. “Don’t listen to the hype!” says Todd Fields, Broker Associate and partner at The Group. Everyone has “the story” of the home with 40 showings and 10 contracts that went under contract for thousands of dollars above the list price, he says. Those stories travel faster with more drama and are all over. But a recent study from the MLS for northern Colorado showed that more than 50 percent of the homes that closed in the past 6 months (at all price ranges) closed at or below list price. Still, a buyer might be in a battle with other people submitting offers and needs to be mentally prepared to not be over-connected to the outcome if you don’t get a particular house under contract.

on several factors including how long the house has been on the market, sales of comparable houses in the neighborhood, and how much you are willing to spend.

Signed, sealed and delivered That exciting day finally arrives when you make an offer and it’s accepted by the seller. You will then put down a deposit called earnest money that shows

that you are committed to buying the property as long as conditions that are outlined in the contract are met. Then things get a bit complicated with multiple professionals involved doing their parts from insurance to inspections to appraisals to title services. “A major part of the process is having a real estate agent who can manage the transaction from acceptance

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of the contract to the closing table,” says Fields. To get to that closing table, around 77 issues have to happen after acceptance of the contract, says Fields. When that day does come around, be prepared to sign and sign the paperwork. And then smile as you occupy your new home. My wife and I did find a place that, though very different from the house we

left, suited our needs and addressed our wants quite well. Did we get everything we wanted? Well, no. We had to compromise on location to get a small yard, but the proximity of a wetland park and a neighborhood pool were bonuses we didn’t expect. And we are enjoying the much-reduced maintenance and upkeep needs of our new place, though we miss the character of the Old Town house.

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Handing off the headaches How and why to hire a property-management company Greg Hoffman

WHILE I WAS WALKING DOWN A BEACH WITH MY WIFE on our first vacation in more than a year, my phone vibrated with an incoming text message. “Hi Greg…the sink and washer won’t drain, and we were wondering if you could send someone to take a look?” Not an unreasonable request nor the first we’d received for our little rental house. But the timing couldn’t have been worse. After two attempts to contact our handy person and check-ins to three plumbing companies, we managed to cobble together a repair date. But the sunny afternoon and vacation now had the cloud of “The Rental.” “Maybe its time to get a property manager,” Stefanie said. Being frugal but having enough of

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the above experiences with repairs, late rents and even evictions, I couldn’t have agreed more. I sat down with Paul Lillie of All Property Services, Inc., in Fort Collins to talk about what to look for and how to acquire a reputable and vetted company to take over the busywork and occasional headaches of managing rentals. He offers the following hard-won advice from years in business.

Charging for rent Many factors go into setting rental rates such as condition of the property, its location as well as the property’s physical characteristics such as bedrooms, bathrooms, garage etc. However, what has a huge impact on rental rates is the actual rental market as a whole. The market dictates what a fair rental value should be on a property. For example, during times of excess supply of available rental units and low demand from renters, rental rates tend to decline. The opposite is true when there are limited available rental units and high demand from renters.

Collecting and depositing rents Rents are collected at the beginning of the month and then deposits to owners are done electronically, or by check if they prefer, between the 10th and the 15th of every month. This allows property managers to collect as much rent as possible even if tenants are

late but hopefully the property owner sees consistent deposits every month. Management fees range from 8 percent to 11 percent of the rent but there may be additional charges such as leasing or renewal fees.

Marketing a PROPERTY One key part in getting a property rented out is making sure it is being marketed and advertised so perspective tenants can find your unit when they are searching. To accomplish this, using the major rental listing sites is an effective advertising tool as well as physical signage on the property. Name recognition from the listing company also helps.

Managing tenants Having years of hands-on experience in managing tenants is crucial. The knowledge gained through past scenarios, situations and outcomes is invaluable. Seeing and knowing what to do with problems or issues before they become bigger problems or issues is a significant asset to any property owner.

current with property laws, state and federal housing regulations, local ordinances and keeps up-to-date with changes provided by attorneys within the property management industry.

Buying a rental property A full-service property management company can help an investor

Staying sane with a property manager A property manager saves a property owner time and aggravation so that owners do not have to worry about or spend the time dealing with such things as: • Phone calls and emails from tenants • Contacting random vendors or contractors to get repairs completed •L eases, renewals, subleases, etc.

Finding the right tenants

•F inding and qualifying new tenants

Finding the right tenants is one of the most important things a property manager does. Renting to unqualified tenants usually leads to many problems and issues in the future. To help determine if a perspective tenant might be a good renter is to verify income, check credit and obtain previous rental history. You want to make sure a potential renter can pay the monthly rent. You also want to know what their payment pattern has been with other businesses or financial obligations and whether they have demonstrated a history of being a responsible tenant when renting from previous landlords.

• Collection of rent or posting of legal notices • Emergency calls in the middle of the night •A ccounting and reporting requirements

MAKING Repairs and managing contractors A company with a longterm relationship with local contractors and vendors who are experienced, honest, adequately insured, dependable and fairly priced is extremely beneficial when managing contractors.

Compliance with housing regulations and property laws A good property management company stays

purchase a property locally but that investor can reside anywhere. Current technology allows for communication, electronic deposits of funds and full reporting via a cloud-based accounting system. Stefanie and I love the rental, but we’ve decided that it’s time to turn over the work to a full-time, experienced professional and get back to life as we know it.

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REALTOR® industry contacts Colorado Assn. of REALTORS® 303-790-7099, Colorado Association of Home Builders 303-691-2242, Colorado Secretary of State Department of Regulatory Agencies 303-894-7855,

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Division of Real Estate 303-894-2166 Internal Revenue Service 800-829-4933, National Assn. of REALTORS® (NAR) 800-874-6500, State of Colorado

U.S. Department of HUD U.S. House of Representatives 202-225-3121, U.S. Senate, 202-224-3121 Veterans Affairs, 800-827-1000

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The 2021 Northern Colorado Home Buyers Guide has been sponsored by All Property Services, Inc. Property management is our only business and for over 35 years, All Property Services, Inc has provided Northern Colorado with professional property and association management services.

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Utility Company Information Atmos Energy Gas, Heating and Cooling Greeley, 888-442-1313 City of Fort Collins Connexion Broadband 222 Laporte Ave., 970-207-7870 City of Fort Collins Water, Sewer, Electric 117 N. Mason St., 970-212-2900 City of Loveland Water, Sewer, Electric 500 E. 3rd St., 970-962-2111 City of Milliken Cable 800-480-7020 City of Milliken Water, Sewer, Trash 970-587-4331,

Xfinity Cable, Broadband 215 E. Foothills Pkwy., Fort Collins 800-934-6489,

South Fort Collins Sanitation District Sewer 970-226-3104

Town of Windsor Sewer, Water 301 Walnut, 970-686-7476

Fort Collins/Loveland Water District 5150 Snead Dr., 970-226-3104

City of Greeley Water & Sewer 970-350-9811

Little Thompson Water 835 E. HWY 56, Berthoud, 80513 970-532-2096

Town of Berthoud Water 970-532-2643

West Fort Collins Water PO Box 426, Laporte 970-484-4881

Northern Colorado Water PO Box 415, 970-568-3975

Town of Johnstown Water, Sewer, Trash 101 Charlotte, 970-587-4664

Poudre Valley Rural Electric (REA) 7649 Rea Pkwy, Fort Collins 800-432-1012 Century Link Phone, DSL 800-244-1111

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Town of Severance Water 970-686-1218, Century Tel 800-350-9720 Town of Wellington Water 970-568-3381

Xcel Energy Gas, Electric 800-895-4999 East Larimer County Water District (ELCO) 232 S. Link Lane, 970-493-2044 City of Evans 970-339-5344 X101

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List of Advertisers 11 37 29 9 30 40 31 17 2 3

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Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.