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Making a Big Splash with a New Backsplash

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Making a Big Splash with a New Backsplash

There are many seemingly small elements in the home that once upgraded or redesigned, give spaces a whole new personality.  Backsplashes are one of these elements. Some designers consider them the focal point of the entire room and can easily redefine the look of a kitchen without all the expense and inconvenience.

While functional and vital to counter spaces, cooking areas, and sinks, backsplashes also offer immense opportunity to mix things up or refresh a room. Tiles, specifically “subway” tiles (rectangular, ceramic) have been the standard for backsplashes.  While various colors and layouts of subway tiles can create an aesthetic look, most homeowners are making minor statements of personality and artistic expression with other materials and colors.

Below are a list of materials becoming commonplace in backsplash designs:

            Tiles (copper, glass, tin, pebble, limestone)

            Combinations of Tiles (usually with glass)


            Stainless Steel




            Hand-Painted Murals


            Back Painted Glass

            Sea Glass



            Quartzite Sandstone

            Marble (whole slab)

            Marble Mosaic


            River Rock

            Vintage or Restaurant-Themed Signs

            Bottle Caps

            Reclaimed Barn Wood

Have fun with these small ways to make a big splash in your home!

Millennials don't want their parents' stuff

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,



I came across an article about the Generation Gap between Millennials and their parents and thought you might enjoy reading it and sharing.   Do you have friends that are dealing with the "declutter movement"?  Baby Boomers are starting to clean out their homes and their kids don't want the "stuff"!   See below to read this fun article!

Generational gap: Millennials don't want their parents' stuff

By Jura Koncius
The Washington Post

Posted:   03/29/2015 12:01:00 AM MDT | Updated:   5 days ago WASHINGTON

A seismic shift of stuff is underway in homes all over America.

Members of the generation that once embraced sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll are trying to offload their place settings for 12, photo albums and leather sectionals.

Their kids don't want them.

As baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, clean out attics and basements, many are discovering that millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are not so interested in the lifestyle trappings or nostalgic memorabilia they were so lovingly raised with.

Whether becoming empty nesters, downsizing or just embracing the decluttering movement, boomers are taking a good close look at the things they have spent their life collecting. Auction houses, consignment stores and thrift shops are flooded with merchandise, much of it made of brown wood.

Downsizing experts and professional organizers are comforting parents whose children appear to have lost any sentimental attachment to their adorable baby shoes and family heirloom quilts.

To make matters worse, young adults don't seem to want their own college textbooks, sports trophies or T-shirt collections, still entombed in plastic containers at their parents' homes.

The 20- and 30-somethings don't appear to be defined by their possessions, other than their latest-generation cellphones.

"Millennials are living a more transient life in cities. They are trying to find stable jobs and paying off loans," said Scott Roewer, 41, a Washington professional organizer whose business is the Organizing Agency. "They are living their life digitally through Instagram and Face book and YouTube, and that's how they are capturing their moments. Their whole life is on a computer; they don't need a shoebox full of greeting cards."

Rewriting the American dream

Many millennials raised in the collect-'em-all culture (think McDonald's Happy Meal toys and Beanie Babies) now prefer to live simpler lives with less stuff in smaller downtown spaces, far from the suburban homes with fussy window treatments and formal dining rooms that they grew up in.

The desire of many millennials to stay in cities rather than moving to the suburbs or rural areas is instigating a rewrite of the American dream.

According to the 2014 Nielsen report "Millennials: Breaking the Myths," 62 percent of millennials prefer to live in the type of mixed-use communities found in urban centers where they can live near shopping, restaurants and work. And 40 percent say they would want to live there in the future.

Take Kelly and Josh Phillips, who rent a 700-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C.'s Shaw neighborhood. The couple frequently sell things on Craigs list and call an Uber instead of owning a car.

"My parents are always trying to give us stuff," said Kelly Phillips, 29. "It's stuff like bunches of old photos and documents, old bowls or cocktail glasses. We hate clutter. We would rather spend money on experiences."

Reasons for being

Stephanie Kenyon, 60, the owner of Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers in Chevy Chase, Md., said the market is flooded with boomer rejects.

"Hardly a day goes by that we don't get calls from people who want to sell a big dining room set or bedroom suite because nobody in the family wants it," she said. "Millennials don't want brown furniture, rocking chairs or silver-plated tea sets. Millennials don't polish silver."

The formal furniture is often sold at bargain prices, or if it's not in good shape, it might go straight to the dump.

"Baby boomers were collectors," said Elizabeth Wainstein, 50, owner and president of Potomack Company Auctioneers in Alexandria, Va., where lots of family treasures end up being sold. "They collected German porcelains or American pottery. It was a passion, and they spent their time on the thrill of the hunt."

She said younger people aren't really that interested in filling shelves.

Kenyon said the under-35 set has always had eBay to find what they want and aren't as nostalgic for former decades.

"Millennials are design-conscious, informed consumers. They bring a lot more confidence to how they want their homes to look," said Newell Turner, 53, editorial director of the Hearst Design Group. "They need to have reasons for why they are doing something. They are not just taking a bed to inherit it."

Kenyon said that boomers might be a bit envious of their offspring as they look to shed things and have more freedom to travel.


Roewer often finds himself counseling boomers as he helps them clear out. Roewer was born in 1973, which makes him part of Generation X. He says his own parents try to give him items for his 750-square-foot home.

"When my parents downsized from 4,500 square feet to 1,100, they sent me four boxes of stuff," he said. "It was things like cards from people I no longer knew, a paper plate with the face of a lion I had glued yarn around and my christening outfit. I appreciate my mom taking care of this stuff, but I really don't want it."

Karen Hammerman, 52, one of Roewer's clients, has three sons ages 17 to 24. She and her husband, Ira, live in a five-bedroom house in Rockville, Md.

"Millennials have stuff on discs and flash drives," she said. "I don't think my sons are going to want my walnut table, eight chairs and buffet. We will downsize maybe in five years, and I will either sell this stuff or give it away."

Vicki Graham Graham
Associate Broker
#1 Properties
(307) 631-6884

"Come as a Client, Remain as a Friend"


Residential Statistics for Cheyenne Wyoming

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

The August 2013 Home Statistics for Cheyenne Wyoming are ready.

Seniors: Have a Safe and Healthy Winter Season

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Seniors: Have a Safe and Healthy Winter Season

By Dr. Judith S. Black

Helping older family members stay safe, secure and independent begins with preparation in the home.
Learn how to help seniors stay safe and healthy by following these tips:

  • Since snow and ice and other adverse weather conditions raise the risk of falls during the winter season, it is important to wear appropriate footwear – comfortable shoes with anti-slip soles. This will help secure footing on icy or snowy walks, stairs or driveways.
  • Check where you regularly walk and be aware of any surfaces that may present a slip or fall risk. Be sure rugs are flat and secure, especially since footwear in the winter tends to be a bit heavier and bulkier than in the warmer weather months.
  • Flu seasons are unpredictable and can be severe. If you haven't done so already, it is not too late to call your friends and family members to remind them to get a flu shot. Getting a flu shot can help prevent complications in older adults and anyone with asthma, diabetes, anemia and other heart and lung problems. Call your doctor today to discuss and schedule your flu shot.
  • I also recommend getting a pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot. Unlike the flu shot, which is different each year and is given before the start of the influenza season, the pneumococcal shot can be given at any time of the year. However, for convenience, the pneumococcal shot can be given at the same time as the flu shot.
  • At this time of the year, it is also important for senior citizens to be protected from the cold temperatures. Every year, many elderly people die from hypothermia and exposure since our bodies are less able to protect us from dangerously cold weather if they have to be outdoors.
  • Finally, diet and exercise should not be neglected during the winter months. While you may not want to venture outside for a walk, it is important to stay active with light exercises indoors.

Dr. Judith S. Black has been the medical director for senior markets at Highmark Inc.

Five Reasons to Love Cheyenne Wyoming!

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,


1.  Unemployment is low!  5.9%   


2.  Cost of Living is below national average!  


3.  Traffic Jam means it took you 5 extra minutes to get to work not an hour and 5!  


4.  Low Taxes!  3rd lowest in the nation.  


5.  Your not a number!  You know your neighbors and your neighbors know you.


Cheyenne, Wyoming, Ranked Family-Friendly

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Cheyenne ranked family-friendly

City chosen 5th best in America to raise a family by Parenting magazine

By James Chilton

CHEYENNE -- The city of Cheyenne has been ranked as the fifth-best city in the nation in which to raise a family by Parenting magazine.

The list, which was published on the magazine’s website Tuesday, lists the 100 best cities for growing families, based on metrics that include education, employment opportunities, crime rate and access to health care.

Cheyenne ranked ahead of many major metropolitan areas, including Chicago, Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles.

This is the first time Cheyenne has appeared on the list, which was first published in 2010.

The Capital City shared the top 10 with several other smaller rural communities, including Burlington, Vt.; Portland, Maine; and Sioux Falls, S.D. Several larger cities also topped the list, including Boston, Minneapolis and Arlington, Va.

“Each year we listen to comments from our readers, determining which factors they find to be most important,” said Julie Christie, Parenting magazine’s digital executive editor.

“This year we placed a greater emphasis on education, based on reader feedback. That helped Cheyenne’s ranking on the list

due to the city’s great education score.”

In fact, in a separate listing of the top 10 best cities for education, Cheyenne ranked second only to Burlington.

Christie said that is owing to small class sizes, high per-student spending and access to alternative education outlets.

Mark Stock, superintendent for Laramie County School District 1, said he appreciated the factors the magazine considered in placing Cheyenne as high as it did.

“Occasionally, Laramie County (District) 1 has been criticized for having large class sizes, but what people fail to realize is that we’re lower than many cities,” Stock said.

“Next year in grades K-3 we should be at (a student-to-teacher ratio of) 17.5:1 And if we open Prairie Wind, a new school that’s supposed to open in 2014, we should be close to 16:1.”

Stock also pointed to several local elementary schools n Jessup and Gilchrist n that have been recognized as “Blue Ribbon” schools in recent years.

Blue Ribbon is a national designation given to schools that show high levels of student achievement or significant improvements in achievement gaps.

Stock also pointed to several local schools that have been recognized as outstanding Title I schools where students perform well despite coming from disadvantaged economic backgrounds.

He added that the Measures of Academic Progress standardized test results also have been reaching higher levels as well.

“We’ve done very well in terms of our growth in the last two years,” he said. “Our K-6 and 9-10 test scores are at record levels for us. We’ve given this test three years in a row and we’ve got the best results we’ve had in three years.”

But Christie said there are many other factors that worked in Cheyenne’s favor, particularly this year, as the magazine began looking at some of the “softer” factors that affect quality of living.

“In 2010, we focused heavily on ‘harder’ factors like jobs, safety, etc. to determine the best cities rankings,” she said. “And then last year we added the ‘charm and culture index’ because we felt it was a very relevant factor for families when choosing a city.”

The charm and culture index was based on factors such as the number of farmers markets, co-ops, libraries, museums, zoos and aquariums in a city. Christie pointed to the Cheyenne Greenway as one of the big factors that boosted the city’s ratings in that area.

“In addition to a low unemployment rate and access to the outdoors, we also love the Greenway because it provides a safe place to push a stroller or for kids to ride their bikes,” she said.

“As a community gathering place and a safe way to get active, the Greenway exemplifies the city’s dedication to providing a healthy city to raise kids.”

Cheyenne Mayor Rick Kaysen said the Greenway illustrates just one of the many ways the city has been investing in its residents’ quality of life.

“Linking the Greenway to our various communities, neighborhoods and parks, it’s a great alternative to jumping in a vehicle,” he said.

“We also look at our Botanical Gardens, which are continuing to grow. And part of that, too, is our Children’s Village, which is a huge, huge asset, not only for children but adults as well.”

Kaysen added that while the city’s low crime and unemployment are the “spokes in the wheel” of Cheyenne’s quality of living, it is the city’s ability to foster public-private partnerships for improvement projects that have helped to solidify the city’s sense of community.

“One of the things I think is absolutely great about Cheyenne is the partnerships that are developed,” he said.

“We made improvements at Holliday Park earlier this summer, and we worked with the Coca Cola-Sprite beverage people here in town to do it. Again, that’s just an example of the public-private partnership that helps build a positive community.”

Top 10 cities:

Boston, Mass.
Burlington, Vt.
Portland, Maine
Austin, Texas
Arlington, Va./Washington, D.C.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.
Madison, Wis.
Omaha, Neb.
Sioux Falls, S.D.


Appeal Your Property Tax Bill

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Appeal Your Property Tax Bill

By: Barbara Eisner Bayer

To successfully appeal your property tax bill, you first need to do a bit of sleuthing into your real estate assessment.

Read your assessment letter

A real estate assessment is conducted periodically by the local government to assign a value to your home for taxation purposes. An assessment isn't the same as a private appraisal, and the assessed value of your home isn't necessarily how much you could sell it for today. Real estate assessment letters are mailed to homeowners annually, or perhaps every two to three years, depending where you live.

The letter will include some information about your property, such as lot size or a legal description, as well as the assessed value of your house and land. Additional details—number of bedrooms, for example, or date of construction—can often be found in the property listing on your local government's website. Your property tax bill will usually be calculated by multiplying your home's assessed value by the local tax rate, which can vary from town to town.

If you think your home's assessment is higher than it should be, challenge it immediately. The clock starts ticking as soon as the letter goes out. You generally have less than 30 days to respond, though the time frame varies not just between states, but within each state. Procedures are often outlined on the back of the letter.

Gather evidence

Start by making sure the assessment letter doesn't contain any mistakes. Is the number of bathrooms accurate? Number of fireplaces? How about the size of the lot? There's a big difference between "0.3 acres" and "3.0 acres." If any facts are wrong, then you may have a quick and easy challenge on your hands.

Next, research your home's value. Ask a real estate agent to find three to five comparable properties—"comps" in real estate jargon—that have sold recently. Alternatively, check a website like to find approximate values of comparable properties. The key is identifying properties that are very similar to your own in terms of size, style, condition, and location. If you're willing to shell out between $350 and $600, you can hire a private appraiser to do the heavy lifting.

Once you identify comps, check the assessments on those properties. Most local governments maintain public databases. If yours doesn't, seek help from an agent or ask neighbors to share tax information. If the assessments on your comps are lower, you can argue yours is too high. Even if the assessments are similar, if you can show that the "comparable" properties aren't truly comparable, you may have a case for relief based on equity. Maybe your neighbor added an addition while you were still struggling to clean up storm damage. In that case, the properties are no longer equitable.

Present your case

Once you're armed with your research, call your local assessor's office. Most assessors are willing to discuss your assessment informally by phone. If not, or if you aren't satisfied with the explanation, request a formal review. Pay attention to deadlines and procedures. There's probably a form to fill out and specific instructions for supporting evidence. A typical review, which usually doesn't require you to appear in person, can take anywhere from one to three months. Expect to receive a decision in writing.

If the review is unsuccessful, you can usually appeal the decision to an independent board, with or without the help of a lawyer. You may have to pay a modest filing fee, perhaps $10 to $25. If you end up before an appeals board, your challenge could stretch as long as a year, especially in large jurisdictions that have a high number of appeals. But homeowners do triumph. According to Guy Griscom, Assistant Chief Appraiser of the Harris County (Texas) Central Appraisal District, of the 288,800 protests filed in his Houston-area district in 2008, about 58% received reduced assessments.

How much effort you decide to put into a challenge depends on the stakes. The annual U.S. median property tax paid in 2008 was $1,897, or 0.96% of the median home value of $197,600. Lowering that assessed value by 15% would net savings of about $285. In some parts of New York and Texas, for example, where tax rates can approach 3% of a home's value, potential savings are greater. Ditto for communities with home prices well above the U.S. median.

There are a few things to keep in mind as you weigh an appeal. The board can only lower your real estate assessment, not the rate at which you're taxed. There's also a chance, albeit slight, that your assessment could be raised, thus increasing your property taxes. A reduction in your assessment right before you put your house on the market could hurt the sale price. An easier route to savings might lie in determining if you qualify for property tax exemptions based on age, disability, military service, or other factors.

This article provides general information about tax laws and consequences, but is not intended to be relied upon by readers as tax or legal advice applicable to particular transactions or circumstances. Readers should consult a tax professional for such advice, and are reminded that tax laws may vary by jurisdiction.



Pending Home Sales on the Rise

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Wyoming is a Non Disclosure State

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,

Have you ever wondered why home price values are different from the list price when looking up a property on line; it's because Wyoming is a Non-disclosure state. 

What does that mean?  

Whether you're buying or selling, finding an accurate property value is key. It helps if you can find out what the property last sold for, but some states (Alaska, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, some counties in Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming) according to the National Association of Realtors are non disclosure states which means that the final sales price is not reported. Despite that, you can use other sources to figure out the value of a house.

For the most accurate valuation, call me.

Renting vs. Buying: It's All about Finances

by Vicki Graham, #1 Properties,



By Paul Owers

(MCT)—Renters often hear jeers that they’re paying somebody else’s mortgage.

They feel pressure to escape rent increases and take advantage of low home prices last seen a decade ago.

But a home still may be a stretch financially. And prices may decline further, embittering new owners who see their prized asset lose value.

For most, the decision boils down to whether their jobs are stable, how much savings they would have after buying, and how long they intend to stay in the area.

Housing industry experts weighed in on the rent vs. buy debate in three hypothetical case studies:
Scenario One: A police officer making $60,000 a year, newly married, currently renting a two-bedroom apartment for $1,500, never owned a home before.

Jim Flood, regional manager for Supreme Lending in Boca Raton, Fla., says he’d work with the officer to determine his cash position.

A new homeowner still should have at least two to four months’ of cash in savings after buying, Flood says. Assuming he has the appropriate savings and his job is safe, the officer is a good candidate to own, Flood says.

If he put down 3.5 percent on a $150,000 home and had an interest rate of about 4 percent, his total monthly payment (principal, interest, taxes and insurance) would be roughly $1,100—a savings of $400 from what he pays in rent.

Bottom line: Easy call. Buy.

Scenario Two: Recent college graduate, living with her parents, monthly payments of $300 for a car and $400 for student loans, has minimal savings and a $40,000-a-year job, but is willing to relocate for another.

The car and student loan debts are the biggest obstacles to buying, Flood says. She’d have to buy a small home or condominium, but she’s likely better off staying a renter.

“If it was my daughter, I’d tell her to pay off the car or student loans and save more money for a rainy day,” Flood says.

Randy Bianchi, co-owner of Paradise Properties of Florida in West Palm Beach, Fla., agrees, adding that the uncertainty over how long she’ll be in the area is another concern. Plan to live in a home you buy for at least five years, experts say.

“Homes are cheap right now, but owning will tie you down,” Bianchi says.

Bottom line: Stay with parents or rent cheaply.

Scenario Three: Retired couple in their mid-60s, small pension, just sold their house for a $15,000 profit, looking to stay in the area and downsize.

The major factor here is the modest profit on the home sale. It’s not enough to buy another home or condo outright or to significantly pay down a mortgage on a new place, said Michael Citron, a real estate agent in Broward County, Fla.

The couple likely would spend $1,200 to $1,500 a month on a mortgage and association dues, but probably only about half that amount if they moved into a 55-and-over rental community, Citron says.
“That’s much more manageable for them,” he says. “The lawn is taken care of and they can call maintenance if anything needs to be fixed. They just don’t have enough money to buy a home.”

Bottom line: Rent.

©2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services 

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 13

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Photo of Vicki Graham, Broker Associate Real Estate
Vicki Graham, Broker Associate
#1 Properties
6106 Yellowstone Rd.
Cheyenne WY 82009
(307) 631-6884