Evergreen Colorado Mountain Residential Real Estate: Linda Pinkul Homes For Sale



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Knowledge and experience are the keys to a successful real estate transaction. HomeSmart agents have all of the tools necessary to help make your home-buying process easier and more understandable. Our goal at HomeSmart is to provide you with the most informative and professional services available, so we have included an overview of what you can expect throughout the home-buying process.

You have already made the smart move by choosing a HomeSmart agent to assist you with the process of purchasing a property. Your next step is to speak with a lender and complete a loan application. This will allow the lender to issue a pre-approval letter, which must be submitted with all offers to purchase.

Most transactions require financing to assist in the purchase. A lender can be a mortgage company, a bank, private financing, as well as other options. Whichever you choose, the lender plays an extremely significant role in the transaction. You will be asked to complete an application, provide documentation and verify your income. You may also be asked to give permission for your credit score to be checked and for your assets to be verified. There are numerous steps to take to secure financing, and your cooperation with the lender is a key ingredient to experiencing an on-time, relatively stress-free closing!

Choosing the Right Home

The choice is yours

A home is more than just a collection of rooms and walls. A home is where you live, raise your family, entertain friends and relax after a hard day’s work. Since so much of your life is spent in your home, choosing the right one for you is an enormous decision.

It is important to consider your priorities and the list of features you are looking for in a home. Your HomeSmart agent will help you define your search parameters and target the ideal properties for you to consider.

Some things you should consider while creating your list include price, location, and your future needs. Everyone is different, and some of us may trade four bedrooms for a big kitchen! A larger backyard may make up for a longer commute to the office, the number of bathrooms may be more important to a growing family, or a single story home might be necessary for someone who has difficulty climbing stairs.

With over six million new and existing homes sold each year in the United States, the options can be staggering. Your HomeSmart agent will help you narrow down the choices and find the property that best suits your needs.

It may be the very first home you look at or the very last one; in either case, we will help you find the place you can call home!


Professional home inspection

In general, buyers are entitled to conduct a series of inspections on the property they are about to purchase. After your offer has been accepted, your HomeSmart agent will assist you in hiring a professional home inspector to conduct an inspection of the property. At HomeSmart, we recommend you choose a home inspector that is certified by a trade association.

Some of the items typically investigated during an inspection are appliances, plumbing, A/C, heating, electrical, structure, foundation, roof, and attic. If any of the previous are areas of concern, you can ask your inspector to address concerns regarding indoor air quality, expansive soil conditions, previous fire or flood, pests, and mold. If you are obtaining a loan, your lender may require specific inspections, such as an inspection to certify that the home is free of wood-destroying organisms.

It is around this time you can expect to be provided with a Property Disclosure Statement from the seller, which contains all information related to the sale of the property. Your HomeSmart agent will ask you to read through it carefully and ask any questions you might have during your inspection period.

Additional inspections you may want to consider are a survey to determine where property lines are located and a claims report, which gives buyers the past insurance claim history on the property (a factor which can affect the cost of your homeowner's insurance).

In addition to formal inspections, buyers should consider other methods of obtaining information about the property. For example, talk to your potential neighbors and drive around the neighborhood during different times of the day. While touring the neighborhood, consider things such as proximity to freeways, airports, and schools.

Your HomeSmart agent can also provide you with resources for obtaining information on crime statistics, city planning and zoning, school information and environmental concerns which may affect your decision to purchase.

The Offer

Get the guidance you need

You have probably gone through quite a bit of searching and preparation in trying to find the home you wish to purchase. Your HomeSmart agent has been there for you, showed you properties based on your initial list of desirable features and helped narrow down your options. At this point, you will have found the home you want and will be commencing the process of making an offer on the property.

There are a number of factors that will affect your decision on what to offer on the property. Market conditions are always a factor. For instance, if it is a “buyer’s market,” you will have more negotiating room for the property. In a “seller’s market,” you may want to place your best offer upfront in order to be the one chosen by the seller.

The values of the properties around the one you want are also factors that should be considered. These figures are typically called the “comps” or “comparables.” Your agent will show you all of the properties on a list that have closed or are for sale in the vicinity of the property you are making an offer on. These comps must be analyzed and a realistic value for the property can be established. There will be an appraisal on the property after you open escrow, and often what you are willing to pay for a property and what an appraiser determines as its value are two different numbers!

You will also want to establish the close of escrow date, or date you will actually become the owner, before writing an offer. If you are obtaining a loan, a lender will generally need about 30 days to complete your loan, order and evaluate the appraisal and furnish the closing documents. If you have been pre-approved, this time frame may shorten. You will want to give yourself ample time to conduct any inspections on the property prior to your closing date.

There are other terms to be considered when placing an offer that may affect whether or not the seller is willing to accept the offer or whether you are willing to accept the seller’s terms. Some of the factors to consider are if a pre- or post-possession of the property has been requested, if a home warranty will be included and, as stated previously, what market conditions currently are.

At HomeSmart, we want you to enter into an agreement equipped with as much information as possible. Our commitment to providing you with superior customer service is demonstrated by our training and support programs, which are designed to assist your agent and in turn help you be the most informed buyer you can be.

An offer to purchase property is a legally binding document that should be explained to you in detail as you are filling it out with your agent. You should always feel free to consult an attorney or tax advisor to obtain further information you deem necessary. We want you to be prepared but also enjoy this exciting experience. Anything we can do to help, just ask!

HOUSING TRENDS REPORT QUARTER 4, 2020 (Data Collected: December 15-23)

Local Market Update for February 2021
Jefferson County
Park County

Clear Creek County

How's the Market?
Denver Mountain Foothill's Market Stats For January 2021

2020 Residential Sales Sold Price Analysis
Bailey, CO
Morrison, CO Mountain
Idaho Springs, CO
Golden, CO Mountain serviced by Ralston Elementary School
Pine, CO
Conifer, CO

Evergreen, CO

Other City Stats

              scroll down for stats and more real estate information



Colorado Property Taxes Denver Mountain Statistics
Colorado Home Sale Prices Rising  
  Bailey & Pine Colorado
What a million dollars will buy you in Denver, Evergreen, Boulder, Greenwood Village etc? Conifer Colorado
Shortage of Homes for Sale in Denver Metro Area Creating a Great Opportunity for Sellers Golden CO Mountain and Metro
Did You Know? Idaho Springs Colorado
Why not own the Fence? Morrison Colorado
10 Reasons to Buy North Evergreen
Selling Your Home in Today's Market South Evergreen
Mortgage Rates Fall
Consumer Confidence Moves Higher
Is it time to buy. . . or remodel? Denver/Metro Real Estate Stats
Useful Real Estate Websites for Buyers & Sellers  
Homebuyer Tax Credit Quickly Approaching

Denver Colorado

30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Since 1971 Golden Colorado
  Lakewood Colorado
Tax Credit Extension for First-Time Home Buyers and Existing Homeowners  Littleton Colorado
Are we heading towards a housing recovery? Morrison Colorado
Denver's Existing Homes Prices Outperform Other Cities  
SHORT SALES: The Long and Short of It Real Estate Information
First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit  
Now May Be the Time to Buy, What Are You Waiting For? Prevent Identity Theft
Do Mortgage Rates Affect Purchasing Power? Renting vs. Owning
Beware of Reverse Mortgage Scams 26 Reasons to Hire a Realtor
Purchasing Bank Owned Properties History of Mortgage Rates
10 Reasons to Consider Buying NOW Short Sale Transactions
Positive Signs in the Real Estate Market Home Improvements That Can Pay Off
Is the Worst Over? Senior Property Tax Exemption
The Facts About Real Estate Radon Myths
Neighbor's Foreclosure Cost You? Closing Fees at a Glance
Think Locally when Gauging the Market Colorado Property Taxes
Maintaining the Value of Your Home Common Ways to Hold Title
  Colorado Foreclosure Timeline
How's the Market?   
Ten Predictions for Buyers and Sellers  
Selling in a Down Market  
Sub Prime Lender & Appraisals  
1031 Exchange Do's and Don'ts  
Student housing a good investment  
Why do I need a title report?  
Closing Costs Explained  
Skier's Stew  
Price Your Home Right  
Pricing Decisions  
Real Estate Investors  

This representation is based in whole or in part on data supplied by Metrolist, Inc. Neither the member Boards of Realtors nor their MLS guarantees or is in any way responsible for its accuracy. Date maintained by the Boards or MLS may not reflect all real estate activity in the market.

scroll down for stats and more real estate information

Victory For Rates; Hope For Housing Inventory?
2021 hasn't been a great year for mortgage rates--at least not as far as their trajectory is concerned. But that could be changing. Even if things don't get any better from here, the past 3 weeks are collectively the best we've seen since January.
Click Here For More Information

Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, Consulting Economist
December 2020 Colorado Market Observations & Impressions

Prices across the Front Range ended the year strongly, with prices up everywhere.  The largest show of strength was in the Pikes Peak area, with single-family homes gaining 15.2% to $379,999 and town homes/condos rising 21.4% to $290,000. Pikes Peak also led the way in sales, up 13%, while elsewhere sales were up by less than 5%, except for in Boulder, where they were down 4.0% compared to last year.  New listings were generally up across the region, but not nearly enough to increase inventories, which fell by roughly 50-60% in all jurisdictions compared to December 2019.  The market remains inventory-starved, with inventory at one month or less in all jurisdictions.  Across the state of Colorado for the entire year, prices rose by 8.7% to $435,000.  While 2020 may be the year that we saw maximum rates of price appreciation, sales should remain strong in 2021, with sales levels comparable to what we saw throughout the second half of 2020.



Marketing is Key to Selling Your Home in Today’s Market
Thinking of listing your home, but unsure whether now is a good time to sell?
While our lives have been turned upside down in many ways the past few months, plenty of interested home buyers are still out there looking. Mortgage interest rates and housing supply are low, and despite the effects coronavirus has had on the economy, demand for homes remains incredibly strong. Nevertheless, in today’s market, many potential buyers and sellers are still wondering whether to move forward with their plans.

If you’re considering listing your home, it’s vital to choose an experienced real estate professional who truly understands what it takes to market a home in these unique conditions and is committed to delivering results.

Coldwell Banker agents give you access to unsurpassed marketing tools and resources that are crucial to successfully selling your property in today’s market, including:

Property Marketing – Our property spotlight marketing plan enables agents to reach potential buyers quickly to get the news out when a new home hits the market, ranging from property video tours to a dedicated property website to online advertising, professional photography services, customized email distribution, social media posts, mailed property announcements and a digital area REALTOR® notification.

Market Updates – If you want to learn more about how real estate is doing in your area, your agent can send you a weekly Market Report detailing activity to keep you fully informed. Your agent also can share a detailed report showing your home’s value as well as comparable homes that have sold nearby.

Virtual Property Showings – If you choose, your agent can show your home virtually using video and apps to keep you and potential buyers safe while still showcasing your property’s unique features.

Virtual Mortgage Process and Closings – Our mortgage partner, Guaranteed Rate Affinity, offers digital tools that allow buyers to get pre-approved online or by phone, and to complete and sign mortgage documents digitally. Real estate transactions are still closing every day, and as the country continues reopening, you have the choice of conducting this process through virtual or in-person meetings.

If you are interested in selling your home this spring or summer, our agents are well-equipped to help you with all your real estate needs. Get started today by contacting Linda Pinkul 303-956-4068.

Uncertain Times Call for Uncompromising Solutions
Just three months ago, if you heard the term “social distancing,” you might think it meant avoiding an annoying person at a party. But now, it plays a huge role in our daily lives and is leading some real estate buyers and sellers to question if it’s even possible to move forward with their plans. But rest assured,  I'm  committed to supporting you with all of your real estate needs. And in many cases, we can do so without you having to leave your home or have people enter yours.

New Listings – Our exclusive marketing program enables agents to reach potential buyers quickly to get the news out when a new property hits the market, ranging from a property tour video and dedicated property website to online advertising, customized email distribution, social media posts, mailed property announcements and a digital area REALTOR® notification.

Property Showings – Agents can show properties virtually using video and apps to keep both sellers and buyers safe while still showcasing a home’s unique features.

Your Home’s Value – Your agent can send you a detailed report showing your home’s value as well as comparable homes that have sold nearby.

Market Updates – If you want to learn more about how real estate is doing in your area, we can send you a weekly Market Report detailing activity to keep you fully informed.

Mortgage – Interest rates are historically low, making it a great time to purchase a home. Our mortgage partner, Guaranteed Rate Affinity, offers a suite of digital tools that allows buyers to get pre-approved online, or by phone, and to complete and sign mortgage documents digitally.

In these uncertain times, we are confident this time will be no different and welcome the opportunity to guide and support you through every step of the home buying and selling process.
Linda Pinkul 303-956-4068.

Winter House Hunting Can Pay Off
Everyone knows the prime house-hunting seasons are spring and summer, when the grass is green, tree foliage is full and flowers are in full bloom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t land a hot deal during the winter. Here are a few reasons why shopping for a home in the winter might be a smart decision.

Less competition. While cooler temperatures in many areas may keep many people inside, if you decide to take the plunge, you won’t have to compete with as many buyers. That means less pressure to make a quick decision to avoid losing out on the home of your choice, and more time to check out additional properties, consider all of your options and negotiate with sellers.

Sellers are more motivated.
Many people who put their home on the market during the colder months are anxious to sell it as fast as possible. Perhaps they’re relocating for a new job or need money for a down payment on another property. With fewer would-be buyers, sellers get less attention and fewer offers, making them more motivated to reduce the price and close the deal.

Quicker closing. Real estate agents, mortgage lenders and title companies have fewer clients in the winter, which can result in a swifter closing. And remember, you can always help speed up your home-buying process by knowing how much you can afford, getting pre-approved for a loan and having a good down payment ready.

Gain more insights. Viewing homes on cool, gray days puts properties in a different light – picture bare trees and no flowers – so if you love a property, imagine how wonderful it will look when colors are popping in the spring and summer. And unlike a sunny 75-degree day, you’ll be able to tell if a house is drafty, a sure sign of poor insulation.

There are definitely advantages to searching for a home during this slow season, but don’t get overconfident and expect miracles. Yes, sellers often are more willing to negotiate, but avoid making a low-ball offer that might insult them and doom your chances of getting the home of your dreams.

Low-Cost Upgrades Can Boost Your Home’s Appeal
If you’re considering putting your home on the market and think that only costly improvements will make a big difference, think again. While major renovations can certainly boost the value of your home and entice buyers, there’s no need to break the bank. There are lots of low-cost improvements that can increase your home’s value and make it more attractive to potential buyers.

Here are a few easy upgrades that will give you plenty of bang for your buck.

Enhance Curb Appeal. After scrolling through home photos online, potential buyers often drive by a home, deciding in just seconds whether it’s worth seeing the inside. So, first impressions definitely matter, and you don’t have to spend a lot to enhance your home’s curb appeal. Make the exterior more enticing by: pressure-washing the house, driveway, front walk and patios, cleaning gutters, trimming trees and shrubs, weeding and freshening mulch, and planting seasonal flowers.

Minor Kitchen Face-lift. Kitchens are often the focal point of a home and many real estate experts agree that even minor kitchen changes can help boost your home’s value. Fortunately, you can breathe new life into your kitchen without spending a fortune by painting cabinets, swapping out cabinet and drawer handles, buying new appliances and upgrading counters.

Add a Fresh Coat of Paint. Painting a home’s interior doesn’t cost much and can make a huge difference by instantly changing its look and feel. Choosing more neutral colors like beige, gray or light blue make it easier for potential buyers to envision themselves living there, and they can always opt for bolder colors later.

Despite Denver Metro Market Statistics
According to the latest marketing statistics from REcolorado, we continue to see higher inventory levels in the Denver Metro area, bringing more choices to buyers. Year to date, the count of new listings is 6% higher than we saw last year at this time. Additionally, homes are staying on the market longer, selling in an average of 32 days. Prices are continuing to increase, but at a more moderate pace. In July, the average price of a single-family home (attached + detached) was $496,120, a 4% increase from last year. For more detailed information click here.

Spring Buying Season Is Looking Up

Despite economists’ earlier predictions that interest rates would continue to climb in 2019, there is some good news for home buyers: Lower mortgage rates, rising inventory and slower home-price growth indicate this could be a solid spring buying season.

Mortgage rates unexpectedly started falling at the beginning of the year, bringing more buyers into the market. In an interview with HousingWire.com earlier this month, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors®, said that six months ago he thought mortgage rates might hit 6% this year, but now he’s calling for rates to remain in the 4% to 4.5% range in 2019.

The inventory increases in recent months indicate more homeowners are putting their properties up for sale, according to an April 1 article on Kiplinger.com, which reported total inventory in the U.S. was up 3.2% in February from a year earlier.

Yun predicts strong demand this spring for houses near or below the U.S. median price of $250,000 because of low mortgage rates and the good jobs market. However, he anticipates reduced demand for homes priced above $750,000, mainly because of tax code changes that took effect over a year ago.

All in all, the housing market appears to be heating up this spring.
As a buyer, of course, you can’t control factors that could affect interest rates, but here are a few things you can control that will determine the rate a lender gives you on your mortgage:

Down payment. If you can afford a higher down payment, you likely will get a lower interest rate because you’re reducing the lender’s risk.

Credit rating. Review your credit score. A sound financial track record of repaying debts and a solid credit score may help you lock in a loan at a lower interest rate. Seeking a mortgage pre-approval may also benefit you in this competitive selling environment.

Debt-to-income (DTI). The percentage of your debt payments to your monthly income can also play a role. The lower your DTI, the better. To lower your DTI, try to pay off the debt with the highest monthly payment.
Stick with your budget. Keep in mind your housing priorities, preferences and desired locations when searching, and always remember your budget. Don’t get caught up in a bidding war and price yourself higher than you can afford.

Tips for First-Time Home Buyers

Buying your first home can be intimidating, but it doesn’t need to be. Understanding every step of the process and planning ahead to avoid potential setbacks can help ensure a successful experience.
Are your finances in order? Are you aware of closing and insurance costs, as well as property taxes? Do you understand escrow? Do you know how much real estate you can afford to buy?

Making the transition to first-time homeownership may seem daunting as you learn new terms, provide proper documentation for financing and find out how many pieces need to fall into place for the home purchase to be approved and completed. While it’s easy to turn to the internet for answers, some issues will not be easily resolved with an online search.

In its 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported that first-time buyers made up 34 percent of all home buyers, about the same percentage as the past couple of years. In addition, 87 percent of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent.
If you are considering purchasing your first home, here are a few points to keep in mind throughout the process:

1.  It is important to understand the financial aspects involved in buying a home. For example, you need to set a realistic budget for an affordable mortgage payment. Compile all the necessary financial documents, save up for a down payment and improve your credit if it is not already rated very good to excellent. According to the NAR’s 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88 percent of all buyers financed their homes. Of those, the majority paid 10 percent of the price as a down payment and financed the remaining 90 percent. If you don’t know where to start, a mortgage advisor can help.

2.  Consider all the costs involved in buying and owning a home, including principal and interest on the loan, taxes, insurance and inspection costs. Also remember to think about future costs like utilities, maintenance, commuting, HOA fees and possible upgrades.

3.  If you do not understand a term or do not know what to do next, always consult an expert. An experienced real estate professional can help you find a property, negotiate the deal and guide you through every step of the home buying process.

Home Prices, Mortgage Rates to Rise in 2019

Buying a home will be more expensive in 2019 as mortgage rates and home prices rise, according to economists with the National Association of Realtors® and realtor.com®.

NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun predicts home prices will continue to rise in 2019, but at a slower rate, with the national median home price increasing to $266,800, up 3.1% from 2018. Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com®, provides a similar forecast, predicting that prices will rise 2.2% nationally. These increases are down from nearly 5% in 2018 and more than 5% in 2017. In addition, Yun expects home sales to flatten and become more stable in 2019, rising by just 1%.

Hale said the 2019 housing market will see modest inventory gains of less than 7%, but many of those properties will be in the mid to higher-end price range. And with mortgage rates expected to hit 5.5% by the end of the year, Hale estimates that the expected increase in prices and interest rates translates to an 8% increase in the average monthly mortgage payment. That will put homeownership out of reach for some, including cash-strapped first-time home buyers. However, as more buyers are priced out of the market, those who are able to remain will find less competition.

In recent interviews with USA Today, both Hale and Yun offered some advice for sellers and buyers in 2019:

Hale said sellers should price their home realistically and be mindful of competition, especially for more expensive properties, and be prepared to reduce the price or offer other incentives to close a deal.

Since there is less competition among buyers and will be more inventory, buyers should take their time to find a home that fits into their budget, Yun said.

Meanwhile, there is positive news. The overall health of the economy is good, Yun said in presenting his 2019 housing and economic forecast in November 2018. Yun cited low unemployment, record high job openings, historically low jobless claims and wages starting to increase as positive signs supporting the housing market, even as interest rates rise.

If you are considering listing your property in 2019 or looking for your dream home, get started by contacting Linda Pinkul at 303-956-4068 or via email Linda.Pinkul@ColoradoHomes.com

Conquering the Clutter Before the Spring Selling Season
If you plan to put your home on the market this spring, one of the first steps you should take is corralling the clutter and getting your home organized. There’s a lot to do before the for-sale sign goes up, and spring will be here before you know it, so why not start the process after the holidays. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Sort through decorations. Make the dreaded annual ritual of taking down decorations more productive by using it to begin decluttering. Before stuffing all your decorations back into plastic bins, take stock of everything you have – lights, wreaths, figurines – then toss items that don’t work and donate decorations you no longer use. In the end, you’ll likely have fewer containers to stow, freeing up space in storage areas.

Get one, donate two. For each gift received – an article of clothing, toy or gadget – donate or get rid of two counterparts. As you put away new possessions, take a little extra time to scour closets and bookcases and weed out worn-out items or those your kids have outgrown. Whether you donate, sell or throw them out, you’ll be making progress toward preparing your house for the spring market.

Depersonalize your home. Once you finish your post-holiday decluttering, it’s time to do a sweep of tables, dressers, shelves and the mantle to clear out personal items such as knickknacks and family photos. The goal is to make buyers feel like your home could potentially become theirs.

Scale down furniture. Nearly every home shows better with less furniture, so remove excess or older furniture to make your home look more spacious. While you might think rooms look empty, it will enable buyers to envision their own furnishings and belongings in the same space.

Rent a storage unit. Once you’ve cut the clutter, consider renting a storage unit for the furniture and other things you’ve removed. That way, you won’t have to store them in your basement or garage when it comes time to stage and show your home. And here’s an added bonus: Taking care of this now means you’ll have one less chore to do when it’s time to move!

Why Wait Until Spring to Find Your Dream Home?
While many people think of spring as the prime season for house hunting, the winter months can offer a good selection with less competition from other buyers, plus the opportunity to settle in before the warm weather arrives. Here are a few reasons why searching for a home in the winter season makes sense.

Less competition. During the spring and summer, more homes are on the market and more buyers are competing for those homes. The opposite is true during the winter months: Fewer buyers are house hunting, reducing the chances that you’ll have to battle multiple offers. The slower winter season also allows you to take the time to check out more properties, comparing prices and features to make an informed decision.

Sellers are more motivated to negotiate. With fewer would-be buyers, sellers receive less attention and fewer offers, making them more willing to make a deal. If the seller has been trying to sell their home for months or has a new job and needs the money for another transaction, they may be even more motivated to negotiate on the price, closing costs and terms of the sale.

Lenders are less busy. Mortgage lenders aren’t as busy during the slower months, so they have more time to give you individualized attention, possibly resulting in expedited approvals and quicker closings.

Gain insights into how energy-efficient a house is. Viewing homes in cold weather enables you to determine the heating system’s efficiency as well as how well-insulated the home is. You’ll be able to find out if some parts of the house are drafty and whether the owner uses space heaters in some rooms. Looking at homes in the winter gives you the chance to easily discover these deficiencies, which might not be apparent during the warmer seasons.

Finally, one important point to keep in mind. While owners may be more willing to negotiate during the winter and you might view a discount as a given, avoid making a low-ball offer that might insult the seller and doom your chances of buying the home of your dreams. An experienced Coldwell Banker® independent agent has the resources and tools to effectively guide you through the entire process.


When selling a home in today's market, it's important to consider all the options to help make it stand out and appear move-in ready to selective buyers.

By Sharon Lee
Article by guest writer Patti Stern

When selling a home in today's market, it's important to consider all the options to help make it stand out and appear move-in ready to selective buyers. Which improvements require the least time, effort and expense but will significantly boost your home's perceived value? To help prioritize, we put together the following list of modest staging solutions/upgrades that will get your property noticed and cost less than the first price reduction that buyers would expect for dated kitchens and baths.

Freshen Walls With Neutral Color
Our go-to instant fix to brighten and hide dated and damaged walls is neutral paint. It's amazing to see how a dark red or purple room can be completely transformed with a coat of soft "greige" (a combination of taupe and grey) paint that increases the perceived size of the space, doesn't distract from the room's features and acts as the perfect backdrop to modern furnishings and décor.

Re-paint Kitchen and Bath Cabinets
To instantly boost a tired kitchen or bath without a costly investment, start by repainting dated and dark cabinets and vanities with bright white paint. Complete the look by pairing with modern hardware – handles, drawer pulls or knobs for added style.

Replace Kitchen & Bath Lighting and Countertops
Lighting is an important design element that can affect the mood of a room more than any other accessory. Adding updated lighting in modern designs and on-trend mixed finishes such as brushed nickel, chrome or soft gold tones will add warmth and sophisticated style. It can also be used to draw attention to certain features in the room such as a beautiful new marble or quartz countertop (as shown in photo above), appliances or high ceilings.

Highlight Key Features
For large windows with attractive molding, remove heavier window treatments or simply frame with floor to ceiling neutral drapes. Remove worn carpeting and expose and polish hardwood flooring. Re-stain stairway steps and railings by painting risers or updating spindles. Enhance a beautiful stone fireplace with molding, mantle or screen.

Finishing Touches
Once you've invested in cosmetic fixes, be sure to remove dated furniture and accents and replace with more modern style that complement the room (as pictured in living room above). Minimal wall art, vignettes and throw pillows with subtle pops of color and pattern will add depth and warmth so that buyers can emotionally connect and envision living in the home.

Exterior & Curb Appeal
It's just as important to update the outside of your home to welcome buyers inside. Remodeling magazine's "Cost vs. Value" report continues to list replacing entry and garage doors, siding and windows as upgrades that provide the greatest return on investment. However, sprucing up the landscaping, making necessary basic repairs, a fresh coat of paint for the front door and some seasonal potted flowers will go a long way to make a great first impression.

For more examples of interior decorating and home staging, visit www.pjstagingdecorating.com


The lazy days of summer may be here, but it’s a busy season for the real estate industry. Home buyers are out in force looking for new homes, but fewer “For Sale” signs are popping up in neighborhoods across much of the nation, creating stiff competition for those seeking their dream homes.

This spring’s home-sale numbers reflect the continued housing inventory shortage. In May, existing-home sales decreased modestly, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Existing-home sales dropped by 0.4% from April and 3% from a year earlier to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.43 million, NAR reported.

New-home sales are faring much better. Sales of new single-family houses climbed 6.7% in May, the highest level since November 2017, according to the Commerce Department. Construction of new homes is expected to increase 10% this year, to about 1.3 million new single-family homes, but that still won’t be enough to keep up with the growing demand, said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, in an interview with CNN Money.

Besides low inventory, buyers are facing a gradual rise in loan interest rates, which have been trending slightly higher throughout 2018 and are expected to continue increasing the rest of the year. So, despite the tough competition, if you’re thinking of buying a new home this year, now is a good time to start.

Here are a few more reasons why the summer of 2018 is a great time to sell:

NAR’s latest Buyer Traffic Report shows that buyer demand remains very strong in most parts of the country. Buyers are ready and able to purchase, with multiple buyers often competing for the same home.

NAR’s Realtor® Confidence Index showed that properties were typically on the market for just 26 days in May, giving homeowners time to sell quickly and get settled in a new home before kids return to school.

More buyers are getting pre-approved for loans before beginning their home search, making the selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae® Origination Insight Report, the average time it took to close a loan in April was 41 days.

With trees, flowers and other plantings flourishing, curb appeal is typically at its peak during the summer.

2019 to Bring Change in Market Momentum

By Suzanne De Vita
Although demand's exploding and home prices are rising swiftly, analysts are anticipating a market moderation in the next year. According to new projections, the fluctuation is forecasted to start in 2019.

Analysts at Freddie Mac are anticipating appreciation will decelerate to 3.1 percent in 2019, with home sales to soften at a 2 percent growth rate and total 6.44 million. 2018, however, is anticipated to bear out as it has in recent years—fast-growing prices, which Freddie is pegging to rise 7 percent, and sales up 3.3 percent to a total 6.32 million.

What's causing the cycle to shift? One factor is mortgage rates, which have risen steadily this year; in fact, Freddie predicts 30-year fixed mortgages will have an average 4.9 percent rate by the close of 2018, and an average 5.4 percent rate by the end of 2019. The average 30-year rate sits at 4.66 percent today.

Climbing costs are not a demand deterrent, however—and even with the change in market momentum, consumers are confident in the economy, which facilitates more spending, including on homes. Employment has gained meaningfully this year, hitting a milestone in spring, and the economy is expected to grow 2.7 percent, the analysts at Freddie project.

With the demand for homes not subsiding, a beef-up in inventory is necessary, says Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

"While this spring's sudden rise in mortgage rates are taking up a good chunk of the conversation, it's the stubbornly low inventory levels in much of the country that are preventing sales from really taking off like they should be," Khater says. The underlying demand for buying a home is holding up, and will continue to do so, as long as the economy is generating solid job and income growth. Most markets simply need a lot more new and existing supply to cool price growth and give buyers enough choices."


A Survival Guide for Spring
Real estate agents are reporting increased showings at open houses, bidding wars, and multiple offers over asking price within days, sometimes even hours. Basically, it’s a jungle out there.

Before you jump into the fray, ask Linda Pinkul an Brokerage affiliated sales professional to guide you through the process.

As a homebuyer, this time of year and competitive environment can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As you enter the busiest selling season, here are a few tips for both buyers and sellers that should make the entire process easier.

Buyers, take the time to review your credit score. A sound financial track record and solid credit score may help you lock in a loan at lower interest rates, and try to obtain a mortgage pre-approval, which you may need in this fast-paced selling environment.

Keep in mind your housing priorities, preferences and desired locations when hunting, and remember your budget. Don’t get caught-up in the emotional drama of bidding, and price yourself higher than you can afford. Of course, select and work with Linda Pinkul who will guide you through the entire process. A local real estate expert with years of negotiating experience is invaluable when it comes to closing the deal in this competitive market.

Sellers, while homes are selling faster, you still need to do your homework as well. Do some spring cleaning, painting and sprucing. Be forewarned that buyers are still looking for a great deal, so ensure that your home is priced accordingly and in good condition. Again, work with a local real estate expert; Linda Pinkul, who can advise you on a pricing and marketing strategy.

For those sellers sitting on the fence, don’t try to time the market. By the time most sellers sense a shift, the tables have typically already turned. Focusing instead on lifestyle needs is usually the better option.

For survival guidance during the spring selling season for buyers and sellers, contact Linda Pinkul today. While the process may be challenging, your sales associate will lead your way.

By Jing Fu
The Financial Accounts of the United States for the fourth quarter of 2017 were released by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System recently. In the fourth quarter of 2017, the aggregate market value of households' real estate continued to improve upon a nominal and not seasonally adjusted basis.

On a nominal and not seasonally adjusted basis, households' owner-occupied real estate increased to $24.5 trillion total by the end of 2017, $443 billion more than the third quarter of 2017 and $1,535 billion more than the fourth quarter of 2016. Total home mortgage debt outstanding was $10.1 trillion on a not seasonally adjusted basis, $291 billion more than the same period of 2016. The value of owners' equity in real estate, the difference between the value of owner-occupied real estate and home mortgage debt, rose $1.2 trillion in the past four quarters and reached $14.4 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Both home price appreciation and the slower increase in home mortgage debt have contributed to the increase in homeowners' equity. As shown in Figure 1, since 2012, the aggregate market value of households' real estate grew by 8.2 trillion and the underlying home mortgage debt remained relatively flat with a 0.4 trillion increase. As a result, the gap between the value of owner-occupied real estate (blue line) and home mortgage debt (red line) has widened and the majority of the increase in home values has filtered to an expansion in homeowners' equity.

Based on previous analysis, even though home mortgages were still the largest share of total household loans after the recent recession, the share of home mortgages declined. Meanwhile, the share of consumer credit loans has risen. The declining share of home mortgages partly reflects the relatively flat level in the outstanding amount of mortgage debt in the recent years.

The Consumer DSR assesses payments on household debt, not secured by real estate, relative to income.  Analysis of this data suggests that the three major categories of consumer credit have risen faster than income since 2013, with student and auto loans leading the way.

The increase in the Consumer DSR reflected an increase in consumer credit outstanding. While disposable personal income has risen since 2013, consumer credit has grown faster. Since 2013, disposable personal income rose by 19% and consumer credit expanded by 32%.

The three types of consumer credit outstanding include student loans, auto loans, and revolving credit, which are largely composed of credit card debt.

Between 2007 and 2012, student loans have increased by 94%, much faster than the 23% growth rate of disposable personal income. Meanwhile, auto loan debt outstanding has expanded at a slower rate of 4%, and revolving credit outstanding declined by 5% during the same period. Due to the slow increase in auto loan debt outstanding and decline in revolving credit outstanding, consumer credit rose by 20% over this period.

Since 2013, student loan debt has increased by 37%, faster than the 19% growth rate in disposable personal income. At 36%, auto loan debt has matched the growth in student loan, also rising faster than income since 2013. Meanwhile, revolving credit growth since 2013 has expanded by 28%.

This analysis of aggregate values as opposed to monthly payments suggests that growth in student loan debt has exceeded income growth at least since 2007. However, between 2007 and 2012, income growth exceeded the increase in auto loans and credit card debt, causing the Consumer DSR to fall, paralleling the decline in the Mortgage DSR. Since 2012, student loan debt has continue to rise faster than income, but now both auto and revolving debt are growing at rates faster than income as well. As a result, the Consumer DSR has risen even as the Mortgage DSR continues to fall. However, despite the increase, the Consumer DSR remains below the peak recorded in 2001.

The Email that Could Steal Your Life Savings and Leave You Homeless
by Debbie Walkowski, David Holmes

As much as we all like to believe we’re savvy about attackers’ latest online fraud, phishing, and email scams, here’s a variation of one that’s shocking, potentially devastating financially—and that, surprisingly, many people aren’t aware of.

For Tina Brown and Phil DeMarco, it started in December 2017 when they decided to sell their home in New Jersey and purchase a new home in Colorado. The New Jersey sale was set to close on a Friday, the proceeds of which would be applied to the Colorado home, scheduled to close the following Monday. A week prior, the couple received an email from their realtor instructing them how and where to wire-transfer the closing funds, adding that she would be too busy to take phone calls for the next few days and they should reply to her only by email. FOR THE FULL STORY CLICK HERE; https://f5.com/labs/articles/threat-intelligence/identity-threats/the-email-that-could-steal-your-life-savings-and-leave-you-homeless

Green Single-family Building Practices

In a sample of homes from 246 single-family builders, about one-fourth have enough green features to meet the minimum point requirement for certification under the National Green Building Standard™ (NGBS).  However, only about 11 percent of the homes actually have NGBS certifications, according to a recently released report from NAHB.

The report is based on NAHB’s Green Practices Survey, which was conducted in several stages during 2017 and collected information on sustainable and high performance building practices used by single-family home builders.  The report scores the typical homes built by these builders in 2016 under both the 2012 and 2015 versions of the NGBS.

To qualify for a particular green building rating (Bronze, Silver, Gold or Emerald), the NGBS requires, at a minimum, that total points earned across all sections of the standard meet a certain threshold.  About a quarter of the homes in the survey sample had enough points (231 or more) for a bronze rating when scored according to the 2015 NGBS, and 1.6 percent reached the 334 points needed for silver.  None had the 489 points needed for gold, or the 611 needed for emerald.

Builders’ typical homes tended to score somewhat higher under the 2015 NGBS than under the 2012 version of the standard.  The average number of points earned was 10 points higher, for example, when the homes were scored using the 2015 NGBS.

Even though a quarter of the homes met the 2015 NGBS total point requirement for a bronze rating, only 11 percent actually had an NGBS certification.  In comparison, about a third were certified under the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), and just under one-fourth were certified under the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program.  The NGBS homes often held one of these other certifications as well.  Forty-eight percent of the NGBS-certified homes also had HERS certifications, and 41 percent also had ENERGY STAR certifications.  A major reason that the homes tended to score higher under the 2015 than the 2012 NGBS is that a HERS rating is worth 30 points in the 2015 NGBS, but none at all in the 2012 version of the standard.

The NGBS can be distinguished from some of the other standards, because the NGBS is approved by the American National Standards Institute and is particularly comprehensive.  To achieve an NGBS rating, a home must meet separate standards for green lot design, water efficiency, overall resource efficiency, and indoor environmental quality, in addition to criteria for energy efficiency.  The NGBS also requires that builders provide homeowners with information on the efficient operation and maintenance of their homes.

For additional results from the Green Practices Survey, please consult the full reportavailable free of change on NAHB’s web site.  For information about NGBS certification, please see the NGBS landing page on Home Innovation Research Labs‘ web site.


6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Didn't Know You Were Forgetting
In all likelihood, your home is the biggest investment you'll make in your life. To protect that investment, turn to regular maintenance tasks to ensure that your home will be running efficiently for years to come.

Most folks are already aware of this. But if you feel like you're mastering your home maintenance, you may be surprised to learn that there are a few you probably never realized you were forgetting. Here are six tasks that require your attention, that you may not be tending to frequently enough, or may be overlooking altogether:

Clean Your Refrigerator Drip Pan
Did you know that refrigerators have drip pans? They do, and those drip pans need to be cleaned regularly or they can be prone to mold growth. Pull it out carefully to prevent spills and dump excess liquid and clean the pan with an all-purpose cleaner.

Flush the Water Heater
Check the temperature of your water heater to ensure that it's set below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding. Test its safety relief valve once a year so that it operates properly and flush the system to remove sediment buildup which can cause system failure.

Reseal Your Grout
Grout needs to be resealed annually to protect your tile from wear and tear. Most grout is made of sand and cement; this means it can absorb water, bacteria and even stains. Resealing will help your grout look better and last as long as possible.

Test Smoke Alarms
Testing smoke alarms and changing their batteries is a vital maintenance task for safety reasons. Smoke alarms should be tested twice a year. Remember, at minimum, you should have one detector on every level of your home, and in each bedroom.

Change Your HVAC Filters
Have your heating system inspected, serviced and cleaned annually. Proper maintenance can extend the life of your furnace, postponing an expensive replacement. Change air filters seasonally to monthly, depending on your home's needs, to protect against major HVAC issues.

Block Out Pests
Prevent against pests setting up camp in your home by caulking small holes or cracks to deter bugs. Also, use hardware cloth to cover any larger areas.

Mastering home maintenance tasks can be a chore, but by ensuring that you're not missing these all-too-often ignored jobs, you'll be able to rest easy knowing your home is that much more protected.

Brentnie Daggett is a writer and infographic master covering the rental and property management industry for Rentec Direct. She loves to share tips and tricks to assist landlords and renters alike. To learn more about Daggett and to discover more great tips, visit www.rentecdirect.com

Metro Denver's median home price hit $400K in February; housing inventory on the rise

The Denver metro area's real estate market saw sizable increases in both home prices and housing stock in the second month of 2018.

The median home price for residential properties -- single-family detached homes and condos combined -- hit a milestone in February: $400,000, according to the latest report from the Denver Metro Association of Realtors. Last year at this time, the median was a little less than $360,000.  https://www.thedenverchannel.com/real-estate

The Advantages of Selling and Buying a Home During the Holidays
The holiday season is upon us. We know what this means for us personally – festive fun with family and friends. Selling and buying a home during the holidays can offer many advantages. Buyers seeking homes are often more serious and there can be less competition with fewer homes actively marketed, which may benefit both sides. If you’re on the fence about listing your home, you may not realize it can be an opportune time of year to make that move. If you’re a buyer, then consider yourself lucky because you may have less competition for coveted homeownership status. Following are some advantages of holiday home selling and buying:

Motivated Buyers and Sellers: 
People who are house hunting this season usually have a good reason, mostly out of necessity or opportunity. Many buyers this time of year have a timeline, like a relocating deadline for a new job or transfer, investors on tax deadlines or simply those looking to downsize or upsize. Buyers and sellers during the holidays are typically focused on moving and moving fast.  

Less Competition:
There is a belief that putting your home on the market during the harried holiday season may leave it sitting long after ringing in the New Year. Just as there are sellers seeking to make a move during this time of year, there are buyers looking for a home. With many people on holiday breaks visiting their families and friends, there can also be less competition that may place both home sellers and buyers at an advantage.

Holiday Cheer adds Curb Appeal: 
For many, the holidays are a favorite time of year because of the festive lights and decorations. Many homes are looking their best. Celebratory decorations and a decluttered environment is the recommended approach.

Reliable Affiliated Agents: 
An experienced and committed agent can relieve much stress and help provide peace of mind to enjoy the holiday season to its fullest. Finding a local agent who will go above and beyond to sell or find your home may be easier than you think.

Helping the Homeowner Resolve Mortgage Delinquency

In a recent insights article [1], the Federal Housing Finance Agency [2] (FHFA) highlighted a new mortgage assistance application that will allow servicers to help borrowers resolve delinquencies more quickly, and keep more people in their homes.

A lesson learned from the crisis, according to the article, is ensuring that the application process is straightforward and as easy to navigate as possible.

In light of this, the FHFA has worked with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to revise a form with one main objective—simplifying the loan modification process for borrowers.  

This review process led to the GSEs' announcement of a new Mortgage Assistance Application (MAAp) that will replace the Uniform Borrower Assistance Form (UBAF).  

The MAAp, is designed to balance five principles of loss mitigation learned from the housing crisis—accessibility, affordability, accountability, sustainability, and transparency.

The article noted that extensive borrower testing revealed a number of opportunities to make the form more user-friendly, including; reformatting the form with a cleaner, brighter look, and consolidating related questions on the same page, adding questions that enable borrowers to express their preferred method for being contacted by their servicer, and clarifying terms that borrowers identified as being unclear.

How does the new application work? By utilizing MAAp, a borrower struggling with their mortgage can fill out the application, prior to being 90 days delinquent, and submit it to their servicer.

“Once the servicer receives the application and supporting documentation, the servicer evaluates the borrower for foreclosure alternatives and works with the borrower to explore their options,” the article reports.

Solutions can include a repayment plan, forbearance plan, loan modification, short sale, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.  

In addition to changes on the application form, the MAAp reduces the supporting documentation required to demonstrate a struggling borrower’s hardship and income, “a change that will simplify the assistance process for both borrowers and servicers.”

According to the FHFA, servicers are encouraged to implement the MAAp immediately, but must implement it by June 1, 2018.

Posted By Nicole Casperson On November 4, 2017 @ 5:34 pm In Daily Dose,Featured,Foreclosure,Headlines,Journal,News
Article printed from DSNews: http://www.dsnews.com
URL to article: http://www.dsnews.com/daily-dose/11-04-2017/helping-the-homeowner-resolve-mortgage-delinquency
URLs in this post:
[1] article: https://www.fhfa.gov//Media/Blog/Pages/Simplifying-the-Borrower-Mortgage-Assistance-Experience.aspx
[2] Federal Housing Finance Agency: https://www.fhfa.gov

Is Denver becoming a Buyer's market?

Increase in Inventory 
In September, home shoppers found more inventory of for-sale homes on the market. At September month end, there were 6,562 active home listings on the market, two percent higher than last month and the second highest we’ve seen all year. Although the increase was welcome, inventory levels remain tight, 28 percent lower than we reported this time last year. 

Slight Decrease in Average Sale Price 
As compared to last month, the average sale price of a home in the Denver Metro area decreased very slightly, bringing the third consecutive month of lower prices. In September, the average sale price for a single-family home was $425,136, less than one percent lower than last month, but still ten percent higher than this time last year.   
As compared to last month, the average price of a single family detached home remained relatively unchanged, while the average price for a condo/townhome decreased by nearly three percent.  

Home Sales Slow, But Still Strong Year Over Year 
The seasonal slowing of home sales seen over the last several months continued in September. Throughout the month, 4,262 homes sold, 21 percent less than last month and a year-over-year decrease of 15 percent. At the current sales rate, there is seven weeks of inventory, up one and a half weeks as compared to last month.  
September home sales were strongest in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range, where half of the month’s home sales took place. Homes priced above $500,000 comprised 25 percent of all sales.  

Year to date home sales are strong compared to previous years. The third quarter ended with 41,498 homes sold, three percent more than last year and 26 percent higher than 2012 levels. This year there has been $17.7 million in home sales, 12 percent more than last year, and a 97 percent increase as compared to 2012 year-to-date figures.  

Homes continue to move quickly, especially in the counties with average home prices in the $300,000 to $400,000 price range. In September, homes spent an average of 27 days on the market, three days more than last month. In Adams and Arapahoe Counties, homes were on the market an average of just 19 days.

County by County

Greater Denver Metro Area Counties: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Park.

Six counties in the Denver Metro area saw an increase in the active number of listings for sale, with five seeing a decrease. The number of active listings increased by 11% in Denver County, 7% in Adams County, and 5% in Jefferson County. Homes are spending more time on the market throughout the Denver Metro area. Homes sold the quickest in Adams and Arapahoe Counties, where average sale prices remain in the $300,000 range.

Vacation Homes Offer Great Income-Generating Potential
Many people dream about purchasing a vacation home and there are many benefits to owning one. Not only can the home serve as a family retreat, it can also serve as a dream home for eventual retirement.  Additionally, vacation property owners who are open to renting their properties during peak season will often discover that the rental income generated can help offset the cost of the mortgage.

In the recently published National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers infographic, 42 percent of vacation home buyers plan to use their property for vacations or as a family retreat. The same chart shows that 37 percent of investment property buyers purchased to generate income through renting the property.
Given the rising popularity and availability of online resources for owners to manage short-term and long-term property rentals throughout the country, it’s no surprise that there was increased interest in purchasing second homes in 2016.  According to NAR, 44 percent of investors, and 29 percent of vacation buyers, did or tried to rent their property last year and plan to do so in 2017 – saving them hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Regardless of the reason, over the decades owning a second or more homes has typically generated income because real estate offers a tangible asset that appreciates with time, and offers many tax and practical advantages. You can’t live in a mutual fund, stock or bond, but you can live in a vacation property whenever you want or need to.

By William Mack, CFA

Not Your Father's Housing Cycle

Activity levels and selling prices for the domestic real estate market last peaked in 2005, two years after the prior peak of the economic cycle (i.e., GDP) in 2003 (at 4.4%). Thus, by preceding the 2008-09 recession, this most recent national housing bust set a precedent as the first in recorded history in which housing helped lead the economy down.

And when economic activity bottomed in early-'09 (March GDP fell 4.9%), domestic housing remained at stubbornly low levels for a few more years.

Sources: US Dept. of Labor, National Association of Realtors (NAR), US Bureau of Census.

Note: sales of existing homes account for >90% of all homes sold in the US, up from ~85% pre-crisis.

Even today, more than a decade after the start of housing's precipitous decline, total US sales volumes (including new homes) remain nearly 30% below peak levels, and over 15% below the 2000-'05 average.

It is a different world post-crisis / housing bust, and residential real estate's demographic hurdles remain high. For example, baby boomers, many of whom live on fixed income payments, are only beginning to downsize or move into managed care facilities.

The more pervasive demographic challenge to home-ownership rates - now below 64%, vs. more than 69% in 2004 - is posed by 'echo boomers', in their 20's and 30's. Born in the 80's and 90's these younger demo's that nevertheless still account for the bulk of entry-level home purchases, more often favor renting over buying, a contrast to their parents and grandparents.

Thus, entry-level home-buying now represents only about one-third of housing activity, down solidly from pre-crisis historical levels averaging 40%. First-time buying has, however, slowly improved from cycle lows in the high 20%'s, and in my opinion has plenty of runway ahead.

Source: US Dept. of Labor

A couple quick observations. The tight relationship between labor force participation and home-ownership, both of which appear to be bottoming or at least steadying. And, more importantly, the nearly six percentage point drop in home-ownership since 2004, and the comparable decline in entry level home purchases from most past averages.

This paucity of first-time purchases, of relatively inexpensive homes, in fact overstates housing's recent strength and helps underscore the housing industry's lack of breadth. Case-Shiller, a commonly used barometer of domestic house prices (only), echoes later price charts, and indicates average selling prices (ASP's) are still below levels more than 10 years ago.

Source: S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller.

It's About Jobs (Mainly)

The most important driver for housing demand is job growth. Moreover, it's the absolute number of jobs created, rather than the unemployment rate, upon which housing most depends.

The 2017 YTD figure is annualized, and based on latest figures: April's jobs and March's home sales.

Sources: US Dept. of Labor, NAR.

Indeed, existing home sales have tracked changes in jobs, but in direction - rather than in magnitude. Since housing peaked in late-2005, the US economy has added roughly 11 million new jobs, yet housing activity remains solidly below past levels, as we'll talk more about. At some point new jobs will more accurately translate into similar increases in home sales.

Confidence Is Key

Consumer confidence is the next most important driver of home sales, after employment. Multiple cycles of empirical data bear this out.

Consumer sentiment based on annual averages of month-end figures

Sources: University of Michigan, US Dept. of Labor, NAR

Despite steady improvements in consumer confidence since its 2008 trough, the figure, though still steadily upward trending, remains below it base level (100) just as home sales volumes track below their 'normalized' levels.

To paraphrase Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, the country's #2 mortgage originator (after Wells Fargo), consumer confidence is the 'secret sauce', to housing.

Interest Rates Matter, Though Less Than Is Assumed

Of course rates matter for housing: a single percentage point decline in mortgage rates buys a 15% more house (over 30 years, ceteris paribus). But, contrary to conventional beliefs, empirical evidence suggests interest rates rank behind consumer confidence in terms of importance for the industry.

Although it's the third leg of the proverbial stool supporting home sales, (mortgage) rates are the factor that most directly benefit from a Federal Reserve Board that has been decidedly 'dovish', pursuing relatively easy monetary policy these past 35 years or so.

Source: NAR

Yet as investors (and borrowers) handicap a potential increase in short-term rates by the central bank in its next (NYSEARCA:JUNE) meeting, we tend to overstate the impact of mortgage rates on housing.

Favorable borrowing rates had a mitigating effect on the housing 'bust'. The Fed's move to zero short-term rates, which lasted a full seven-years (Dec. '08 - Dec. '15) has thus far had a similarly benign impact on the subsequent recovery.

Their impact (low rates) has been partly muted by a number of factors, mainly mortgage originators' basic business decisions (i.e., risk / reward), stricter home-lending regulations, the disappearance of independent mortgage brokers (e.g., Washington Mutual, Countrywide, etc.) and the reduced activity among government sponsored mortgage securitizers (e.g, Fannie Mae).

Yet were it not for mortgage rates following 10-year Treasurys to just over 2% with the launch of quantitative easing (late-2008), financial history might have been much different: One can only speculate on the further damage to home prices, mortgages (especially adjustable), securitizations, etc. that would have occurred had the Federal Reserve not stepped in with zero rates and levered its balance sheet by $4 trillion.

Housing To Catch-Up To Other Asset Classes

Since 2000, which encompasses not one - but two - historically long economic (up) cycles - the median sales prices for existing homes have risen just 3% a year compounded (from $147k in 2000 to $236k in March 2017).

Sources: US Bureau of Census, NAR

And yet over this same span, these tepid gains in home prices equal only about half the returns for stocks (the S&P 500) - marked from near their previous highs. Yet unlike a home that is typically leveraged three- or four-to-one, the stock market (and the companies included) sees little, if any direct benefit from leverage.

The chart below indicates a weak relationship between falling long-term rates and home sales volumes but a pretty strong correlation with stock market returns.

Source: NAR

A few words on housing returns vs. bond returns (not included in the chart above). It's understood that the 10-year US Treasury Bond is the reference rate for 30-year mortgages, given similar durations of seven to nine-years. But based on yields alone, this risk-free, zero collateral instrument has kept pace with these (c. 3%) annual home price gains. Moreover, the price appreciation in 10-year Treasurys that accompanies the halving in yields over the comparison period (from 2000) adds another percentage point a year to its return.

Scarce Dirt?

The following chart details US new home permit and construction data, helps to magnify the slow, but steady, recovery in home sales activity.

Source: US Bureau of Census.

Much of the blame for housing's slow recovery is lack of supply, or housing stock, including new home construction. But this characterization is mostly unwarranted, since no single part of the 'housing complex' operates in a vacuum - from buyers, to originators, to government sanctioned securitizers, to ratings agencies. And let's not leave out the Wall Street investment banks (in case you haven't seen The Big Short).

Thus lack of supply is at most a symptom, rather than the cause of a still relatively muted housing market. A potential buyer is no more likely to take a 30-year mortgage if he's insecure about his job than the lender who just wants to be repaid - with interest and amid a flat yield curve (which helps determine the lender's net interest margin, or return).

In fact, the reasons for a slow recovery are nearly infinite. But thankfully, given enough time, markets tend to get it right. Warren Buffett's adage about the stock market being a beauty contest in the short run can be applied to the housing market - itself a long-cycle industry.

As Buffett says, the stock…er..housing market is a weighing machine in the long run. On this basis, most key housing-related measurables, in addition to those already discussed, are moving in its favor.

Since housing peaked a dozen years ago consider:

The US has added 13 million new households (up 11% since late-2005) The overall population has grown by 30 million (up 10%) The labor force is larger by 10 million (up 7%)

Source: US Dept. of Labor

So ... Buy Builder Stocks

Buying the stocks of big builders is the best pure-play on US housing, as the group's operational performance continues to benefit from the broader recovery.

The availability of funding relatively risky, capital intensive property development smaller peers face hinted at earlier is in fact the key advantage among large publicly traded homebuilders.

Source: US Bureau of Census

This access to capital has allowed the country's largest builders to consolidate market share and grow faster than their smaller, capital constrained peers. Indeed, the top nine production builders have increased their share of the US new home market to more than one-fourth from just over a fifth since the crisis.

Source: Company SEC filings (10-Ks), US Bureau of Census

Market share gains have bolstered the pricing power of these market leaders.

Source: Company SEC filings (10-Ks)

*CalAtlantic is pro-forma for the merger of Ryland and Standard Pacific.

The main purpose of this article is to highlight strength in the economically important US housing market. 

Summarizing the group's valuation and growth profile:

Source: Company SEC filings (10-Ks)

*CalAtlantic is pro-forma for the merger of Ryland and Standard Pacific.
**NVR is excluded from the group's average price to book value.

There are few industries (outside tobacco) with the pricing power of homebuilders. And, is there another US industry with 9% annual unit growth ('closings' above), 6% yearly price increases and valued at just 30% above book?

D.R. Horton is both the fastest growing and largest homebuilder, a rare combination and a key to our argument for buying the stock in fall 2014. And even though today's valuation, (1.9 times stockholder's equity), has risen since then (to the group average), its relatively strong focus on first-time buying segment is a fundamental driver of its growth, and has only begun to play out.

William Mack, CFA is an analyst with a 20-plus year career split between the buy-side and the sell-side and between US and European firms. He is passionate about finding undervalued stocks.

Original Source: Seeking Alpha

Outlook for 2017: Will The Seller's Housing Market Continue?

Over the past year, the Denver Metro Area has seen a strong seller's market for housing – thanks in large part to a shortage of homes on the market, strong demand by buyers and mortgage interest rates that hovered near historic lows. But as 2017 gets underway, the question is whether that seller's market will continue, especially given a recent up tick in interest rates.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage nationwide climbed to 4.16 percent in mid-December (the latest figures available), up more than a half a percentage point just since the November presidential election. Economists say the increase is due to more optimistic economic growth projections, higher-inflation expectations, and the Federal Reserve's recent rate hike.

Although mortgage rates remain relatively low by historical standards, the sudden increase in rates is one of several factors that could impact the housing market in the coming year: Will low inventory levels begin to rise? With the job market remain strong and continue to grow? What impact will the new Trump administration have on the housing market and the economy?

All of those factors could play a role in how the housing market shapes up in the new year.

A panel of industry economists in a recent article in Inman News, the national real estate trade publication, said they generally expect 2017 will remain a seller's market in much of the country. But they believe that trend could begin to give way to more favorable conditions for buyers in 2018 and 2019.

"2017 is probably going to skew more toward the seller's market," Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, told Inman. "Most markets will skew more toward seller's markets, and even in the Midwest there are probably more seller's markets than buyer's markets compared to their own history."

But Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at realtor.com, said the three laws of real estate – location, location, location – will be ever more important this year.

Markets in the western U.S. have seen the most significant price appreciation, making it difficult for first-time buyers to find success. Smoke expects that trend to continue, but sees great variations geographically – even from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood in a particular market.

"We're seeing some clear patterns emerge within markets — one might be slowing down and cooling off where another part is really heating up," he told Inman. "Real estate is so local that I would argue that a neighborhood view is really where you can see the differences and disparities and changes that are occurring around the country."

The economists did project that inventory levels will likely rise in 2017 and new construction will pick up as well, giving frustrated buyers a bit more to choose from.

The upshot is that sellers might find that it will take a little longer to sell their property this year than it did in 2016. However, the increase in listings and construction probably won't be enough to offset pent-up demand from buyers as long as the job market remains strong.

The National Association of REALTORSâ publication, realtor.com, said the days of multiple offers and bids well over the asking price probably won't go away in 2017 – although they may not get much worse from a buyer's standpoint.

Citing rising mortgage rates and a shortage of affordable homes for sale, realtor.com projected a smaller increase in sales in 2017 than last year and slightly slower price appreciation of about 4 percent on average nationally, down from 5 percent in 2016.

"2017 will be a year of growth in both sales and prices, but that growth will be slower than what we've seen over the last three years," according to Smoke.

Much of what happens in the coming year could depend on how high mortgage interest rates go. Smoke projects 30-year fixed mortgage rates to rise to 4.5 percent in 2017, while Gudell of Zillow expects a peak rate of 4.75 percent following additional Fed rate hikes.

No one knows for sure what will happen to interest rates or the housing market. But if you have been thinking about buying or selling your home, now may be a good time to make your move before rates go higher and while demand for housing remains strong.

Tips to Help Choose the Right Real Estate Professional
Buying or selling a home is often the largest, most complicated financial transaction any of us will ever make. A real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in this process and can potentially make or break your home buying or selling experience. But how do you find the right person? What qualities should you look for when selecting a real estate professional?

Here is a suggested list of important qualities that your real estate professional should possess before you work with them to buy or sell a home:

Readily available. Real estate is not a 9-5 business. You don’t want to lose out on a purchase or sale because your agent wasn’t immediately available. Great real estate agents are extremely responsive and available 24×7 if necessary. You need someone who is comfortable with the level of communication that you want and need. That individual should be able to provide prompt replies via phone, text, or email, even after “normal” business hours. You may also want to consider working with a real professional who is affiliated with a major brokerage and/or a team, so that they will have additional support backing them up if necessary.

Knowledgeable about the market. Look for a local professional who has a successful track record in your Neighborhoods and cities vary considerably and great real estate agents know the ins and outs of your particular community.

Skilled at using local data. Your real estate professional should know how to retrieve localized data and use it effectively in helping you buy or market a property. Local data points, including housing trends (top regions, average value of similar homes, home improvement spending), can be used to price your home competitively, market appropriately, and negotiate intelligently.

Well connected and reputable. Look for a real estate professional who already has a list of prospective buyers or who works within a well-known and well-connected real estate brokerage company. Many homes are purchased by someone from across the country or around the world. A well-connected real estate agent can easily promote your listing through their network of out-of-state and international buyers.  The size and quality of your real estate agent’s network can greatly expand your pool of potential buyers.

Direct and honest. When it comes to selling your home, you want your real estate agent to be brutally honest about the price range of your home in comparison with other listings. Agents who belong to national, state and local Associations of REALTORS® are committed to acting ethically in your best interests. Don’t take it personally if suggestions are made to rip out shag carpeting or repaint the neon lime walls in your home. Your personal style preferences may not be as appealing to the majority of potential buyers.

Tech savvy. Gone are the days of people finding home listings merely through newspaper ads or for-sale signs in the front yard. According to a National Association of REALTORS® survey, more than four out of 10 home buyers now begin their search online and more than eight out of 10 baby boomers and millennials use the internet at some point in their home buying search. You need a real estate professional who understands the ins and outs of selling a home online. From Zillow and Trulia and every other real estate website in between, your chosen real estate agent needs to have a strong online presence to effectively market your property.

Having an experienced, knowledgeable real estate professional to help navigate the complicated home buying and selling process is critical these days. Take the time to interview several REALTORS® before choosing the right one for you. By investing a little time upfront and asking the right questions you can help ensure that your home buying or selling experience goes smoothly and is successful.


Colorado's housing market had its challenges in 2016, including low inventory of homes for sale, rising prices that challenged would-be buyers, and political uncertainty with the presidential election. But despite the headwinds, this turned out to be a good year overall for our local housing market.

Many home sellers once again enjoyed strong gains in sale prices. The median sale price for single-family homes in the Denver Metro Area in October (the latest data available) reached $355,000, up 12.6 percent from the same month a year ago, according to local MLS data analyzed by Coldwell Banker. The median sale price of a condo in the region gained 4 percent between October 2015 and October 2016.

Meanwhile, the average sale price of all homes in the Denver Metro Area – single-family and condos – year to date through October was $398,000, up 14 percent from the same 10 months in 2015.

Strong buyer demand, a healthy local economy, including growth in the technology sector, and a continuing decline in the inventory of homes on the market all combined to make 2016 a seller's market in the Denver Metro Area and elsewhere in Colorado.

The year also saw a continuation of mortgage rates that remained near historic lows much of the year, helping make home purchases more affordable. But in recent weeks, key lending rates began to tick higher, which could present challenges to the market if that continues into the new year.

According to Freddie Mac, 30-year fixed rate mortgages in the U.S. averaged 3.94 percent in the week ended Nov. 17, up 40 basis points from its 2016 low. However, average rates are essentially flat from a year ago and below historical averages. During the height of the housing market in 2007, for example, the rate surpassed 6 percent.

Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti in analyzing the recent bump in mortgage rates stated, "If rates stick at these levels, expect a final burst of home sales and refinances as 'fence sitters' try to beat further increases, then a marked slowdown in housing activity."

One of the biggest challenges for the housing market in 2016 was insufficient listings to meet buyer demand.

Although inventory has gradually improved in some areas, overall the number of homes for sale in October was down 14.1 percent in the Denver Metro Area in October from the year before. In Boulder, inventory fell 11.4 percent, and in the northern area it was off 3 percent.

The shortage of homes for sale, especially in the Denver and Boulder areas, continued to result in multiple offers for some properties, which resulted in sales for certain homes at above-list price.

Limited inventory for buyers to choose from may have also been one important reason why overall home sales in the Denver Metro Area were fairly flat year over year. As of October, sales year to date totaled 43,212, down 1.8 percent from the 44,005 sales during the same period in 2015.

Sales were down even more significantly in Boulder County where year to date closed sales through October were 3,668, down 12.6 percent from the same period last year. In the northern counties, sales were down 2.6 percent.

As 2016 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2017, there are reasons to be encouraged about the outlook for the Colorado housing market. The greater Denver Metro Area's growth in high-tech jobs and solid economy should continue to create demand for housing in our area.

If you've been thinking about selling your home, now may be a good time to make your move. Mortgage rates are still low by historical standards, although that could change in the coming year if rates continue to rise. And for now, we're still enjoying a seller's market in many of our communities.

Original Source: Colorado Home & Style

The Downside to Selling Your Home by Yourself

Colorado’s real estate market has rebounded sharply in the past several years in the aftermath of the recession, with home prices near or even above their highs of 2007 and 2008. A shortage of listings in many communities is resulting in some homes receiving multiple offers, even over the asking price.

In this kind of a “seller’s market” it’s understandable that some homeowners may believe that they should try selling their home on their own to “save” money. However, do-it-yourself sellers (also known as “For Sale By Owner” or “FSBO”) could end up losing money in the long run – and create lots of headaches in the process.

Here are just a few of the reasons why selling your own home rather than letting a professional do it could cost you time and money in the long run:

•You may not save as much as you think – if at all. Homes without professional representation often remain on the market longer and end up selling at a lower price than those marketed by a real estate agent. The National Association of REALTORS® found that the typical FSBO home nationwide sold for an average price of $210,000 as compared to the average price of $249,000 for agent-assisted home sales in 2014 (the most recent figures available).

•Other costs can eat away at any “savings.” While you might save some of the commission cost of a seller’s agent, you may still end up paying 2-3 percent to the buyer’s agent in order to attract a larger pool of buyers. Additionally, the true “savings” may be far less after you add all the other costs associated with selling – advertising, brochures and fliers, for-sale signs, etc.

•Much time and effort go into selling a home. There’s a reason that just 8 percent of sellers sold their own home last year, according to NAR. It’s hard work! Professional real estate agents develop comprehensive marketing plans, take professional photos, arrange inspections and appraisals, oversee staging, hold open houses, place print and online ads, seek out potential buyers and negotiate with buyers’ agents on price and terms. Homeowners need to ask themselves if they really have the time or expertise to do all of that on their own.

•Determining the right listing price is critical. Real estate professionals review comparable sales, local market conditions, as well as the pluses and minuses of your home in helping you set the list price. As an owner, you may not have a clear or objective sense of what that price should be. The right list price may get your home multiple offers or a faster sale depending upon what you want. Setting the list price too high may cause potential buyers to not even look at your home.

•Negotiating against pros. If you try to sell your home on your own, you may end up negotiating with a professional real estate agent working for the buyer whose expertise may cause you to end up selling your home for less money and/or with other contractual terms that may not be in your best interests and could also cost you more in the long run.

•Limiting your pool of buyers. FSBO properties are often not able to utilize as many of the real estate search engines and websites as properties sold by REALTORS®. This is potentially a significant obstacle in an era when more than 90 percent of buyers start their home search on the Internet, according to NAR. Those selling their own home typically cannot leverage the advertising, marketing and networking resources that are needed to reach the potential buyers that agents are reaching every day.

Even in a good market, properly marketing and selling a home is far more complicated than most people suspect. It’s very easy for non-professionals to make costly mistakes. Since the sale of one’s home is often the single biggest financial transaction that most of us will ever make in our lives it is critical that it is handled as expertly as possible. When it comes to selling your home, it truly pays to rely on an experienced real estate professional to help guide you through the process.

Buyers Bring New Listings of Homes for Sale in June
July 7, 2016 –
According to the latest data from REcolorado, the provider of REcolorado.com, a free home search site for Colorado home buyers, sellers and renters, June saw an increase in the number of homes for sale in the Denver Metro and surrounding area, thanks to sellers bringing new listings to the market.
Available home listings increased 22 percent from May, taking the number of homes for sale to 8,030 at June month end. Compared to this time last year, there are seven percent more homes for sale.
June’s increase in inventory was driven by sellers bringing new listings to the market. During the month, 8,248 single family homes were listed, 13 percent more than last month and 8 percent more than this time last year. The supply of inventory for the Denver metro and surrounding area remained at approximately six weeks.
Meanwhile, average sold prices increased three percent month over month, averaging $418,747. Denver-area prices are up 12 percent over average prices in June 2015, demonstrating continued demand. Despite continued price growth, homes spent an average of 20 days on the market in June, four days less than last month.

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2015 Year-in-Review for the Colorado Housing Market: Strong Demand and Limited Inventory Created Seller's Market
As we approach the end of 2015, it's a great time to take a look back at how the Colorado housing market fared this year.

This year turned out to be another strong year overall for the local real estate market, especially for home sellers.

According to the Colorado Association of REALTORS® (CAR®), the market experienced good appreciation in sale prices in many areas. Statewide, the median sale price in Colorado through October was up 14.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago, reaching $216,000.

In the Denver Metro Area, the median sale price of single-family homes in October hit $315,000, up 12.5 percent, according to MLS data analyzed by Coldwell Banker. The median sale price for condominiums also climbed 12.5 percent to $197,000.

Boulder County's median sale price for all properties sold in October soared nearly 20 percent from a year ago to $411,000. And the Northern Colorado region (Weld and Larimer counties) saw a 9.5 percent jump in the median sale price.

Strong buyer demand, a vibrant local economy and a continuing decline in the inventory of homes on the market, combined to help make 2015 another seller's market here in Colorado. Healthy job growth, especially in the tech sector, fueled demand for homes – everything from entry-level properties to multi-million-dollar estates.

Another factor that helped bolster the housing market was a continuation of attractive mortgage interest rates, which remained near historic lows this year and continued to help make homes more affordable.

According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the U.S. as of mid-November stood at 3.98 percent. Although the Federal Reserve is considering a rate hike this month, CAR® believes that any boost in rates will be relatively small and will increase gradually in the coming year.

One of the biggest challenges to the housing market in 2015 was that there were just not enough listings to meet buyer demand. The number of homes for sale in October in the Northern Colorado area was down 37 percent over the same month last year. And in Boulder County it's down 47 percent.

The shortage of listings led to multiple offers on some properties this year, and even bids over the asking price for certain homes. And limited inventory may also have been a contributing factor in keeping a lid on home sales overall in 2015. Through October, sales in the Denver Metro Area were up less than 1 percent compared to the same 10 months last year.

Just how hot is the Denver housing market? Well, according to realtor.com's latest nationwide housing report, Denver has moved to the top spot among the 20 hottest U.S. cities, surpassing even those in Silicon Valley.

But the good news for prospective homebuyers is that inventory is finally starting to loosen up as the end of the year approaches. In the Denver Metro Area, the number of unsold listings actually edged up 4.5 percent higher in October.

So if you've been thinking about selling your home, now may be a good time to take advantage of the current seller's market. There just aren’t enough good homes on the market right now.

I know you may have questions about making a move, what your home might be worth, and what's involved in putting a home up for sale. I'm happy to walk you though the process and answer any questions you may have. Please give me a call or e-mail me today and we'll get started!


Saturday, November 7, 2015 
Why Listing Your Home Over the Holidays Might Be a Smart Move

Conventional wisdom may tell us that the holidays are not the best time to try to sell your home. After all, many buyers are busy with family activities and holiday gatherings, so they put off shopping for a home until after New Year's, right? That may be true, but the fact is that there are still lots of potential buyers out there looking at this time of year and now may be a surprisingly good time to list your home for several reasons.

1. Strong Sellers’ Market
Many of our local communities have experienced a robust sellers’ market this year with prices often rising and, in some cases, homes are selling with multiple offers. Not all buyers magically disappear when the weather starts to cool down. There continues to be a shortage of good properties this time of year to satisfy the existing demand from well-qualified buyers.

2. Less Competition
It's true that many sellers decide to wait until after the first of the year – or even until springtime – to list their home. For some it is difficult to deal with selling during the holidays given all the various time constraints and pressures that can develop. However, the reluctance of some to sell during the holiday season could also be advantageous for sellers who can remain more flexible. With even fewer homes on the market, there is less competition for buyers' attention so your home may have an even better opportunity to stand out.

3. Motivated Buyers
The buyers who are looking for a property over the holidays tend to be more serious about finding a home. They may be trying to close before the end of this year for tax purposes or they may be relocating to a new job that starts in early 2016. Whatever their personal reason, it is possible that the buyers who are looking at this time of year may be more motivated to find their new home as soon as possible.

4. Homes Look Better
Homes naturally look warm and cozy during the holidays with colorful decorations inside and out. The positive psychological effect that this festive image may have on potential buyers may help them in picturing their own holiday gatherings in your home. Just make sure not to go overboard on the decorations, which might hide the beauty and space of your home. Tasteful decorations and a minimum of clutter are always keys to enhancing a home's appearance.

5. Buyers are Always Looking
In the past, home buying meant getting into a car and driving to each home for several hours, usually during the daylight hours – which is not an activity that most people want to do over the busy holiday season. Thanks to the Internet, mobile devices and smart phones, that time consuming process has changed. Most buyers now start their search online, a process that can occur at any time during the day or night. Technology has made the home search process less time-intensive, and as a result has helped lengthen the traditional buying and selling seasons from spring and summer to year-round.

6. Holidays Give Hectic Buyers Time to Shop
Our hectic lifestyles may also play a role in the changing dynamics of house hunting. In many cases, buyers are too busy with daily responsibilities to really focus on home shopping during much of the year. For some, it may not be until the holiday season that they can finally find some "down time" to focus on new listings, start visiting properties and put the home-buying process into overdrive.

The holidays can be a time of excitement and good cheer. What better time to show off your warm, cozy and festive home to potential buyers? By listing your home at this time of year you may receive the best present this holiday season – a sold sign on the front lawn.

Monday, October 6, 2015 
Tips For Home Sellers As The Fall Home Buying Season Begins

It probably comes as no surprise to most people that the Colorado housing market has been hot lately, especially for sellers. The limited inventory of homes for sale in many areas, combined with solid demand from buyers, has tilted the market in the seller's favor. In some communities it's not unusual to see multiple offers for homes and bids over the asking price.

But even in this kind of a market, sellers can still get the short end of the stick if they aren't careful. As we kick off the fall home buying season, listing your home right now may be a great idea given the high demand for properties and shortage of listings. But it is important to take certain steps to help make the home selling process go more smoothly and to enable you to get the best results possible.

Here are a few tips that might help:

1. Pick a highly qualified real estate professional to get the job done. Selling is a big decision with significant financial and emotional components. It can pay to find a professional REALTOR® with experience in your area and a thorough knowledge of the market and selling strategies. They can help ease the work and stress that goes into selling a home and help you achieve your goals.

2. Be the buyer. We all think our home is great. After all, it's where we live and have created so many memories. But when you think about how to price and show your home, it's important to put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer and be a bit pickier about your home's appearance. Critically assess how your home compares to other homes in your area and ask yourself what would you be willing to pay for it if you had others to choose from?

3. Don’t push your luck on pricing. It's natural to think that anyone who enters your home during an open house or other broker showings would be willing to pay top dollar. However pricing a home too high above the current market could turn away buyers and increase the possibility that the home will sit on the market for a longer period of time. Depending upon the market, you may end up having to lower the asking price at a later point in time to be able to sell.

4. Too low of a price can backfire, too. Listing your home below market price may draw in more potential buyers and may increase the possibility that you will receive multiple offers. However setting the asking price too much below the current market comes with some risks as well. You might not get as many offers as you think, and the best offer might be lower than you had planned. Buyers might also become skeptical about buying a home that is listed well below the rest of the market.

5. Keep an eye on the competition. Going to other open houses can give you a better sense of how your home compares to others on the market. Looking at the upgrades in their kitchens, the amenities throughout their home, and the size of their yards can help you gauge where your home fits in the local market spectrum.

6. Make a good first impression. Help homebuyers imagine themselves living in your home by taking down family photos and mementos, removing large or clunky furniture, and generally decluttering your home. Consider using a professional stager who can clear out the clutter and find just the right furniture for each room. Don't forget to clean up the yard, prune back bushes, and plant attractive flowers. Even in a seller's market, making the right impression can help get a better price.

7. The highest offer isn't always the best offer. It may be tempting to simply accept the highest offer for your home in a multiple offer situation, but sometimes it's better to go with a lower one depending upon the other terms in the offer. All cash buyers and those with very large down payments who have been pre-approved for the loan balance may be stronger candidates to be able to actually close. Additionally, buyers who take your needs into account in their offer, such as allowing you to retain possession of the property for a short period of time after escrow closes may be providing a better over-all proposal for your needs.

This may be a great time to sell your home, but there are ways of making the most of the opportunity in this market. If you have been thinking about selling your home, I'm ready to help. Please give me a call or email me today and we'll get started!

, September 16, 2015 
Home Buying Tips in a Seller's Market

Anyone who has tried to buy a home lately knows that it can be very challenging. Historically low mortgage rates have brought Colorado homebuyers out in force. At the same time, there is a limited inventory of homes for sale. Resale listings are at their lowest level in many years and homebuilders are just now starting to replenish their supply of new construction.

All of those factors have led to a seller’s market in many parts of Colorado. Homebuyers are competing with each other for the relatively few listings on the market, leading to multiple offers in many cases – sometimes as many as a dozen or more – and sale prices climbing above the asking price.

Trying to buy a home in a seller’s market can be frustrating, but there are ways to increase your chances of success. Here are some tips that may turn the odds in your favor:

Work With an Experienced, Knowledgeable REALTOR®
In a hot seller’s market, the selling process tends to move much faster than normal. As a buyer, you often have to move quickly as well, while still making prudent decisions about the home purchase. An experienced, knowledgeable real estate professional will know the neighborhood, the pluses and minuses of the home, what the sellers are looking for in an offer and how to improve your chances to come out on top in a competitive market.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
This is different from pre-qualifying, as it is a full loan approval instead of simply an opinion letter. Being pre-approved may put you in a better negotiating position, as the seller knows the buyer is ready, willing and able to buy, and the financing is not in question.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly When You Find the Right Home
Time is of the essence in this market. Winning buyers often act fast while those who wait may lose out. So after finding a home you like in your price range, don’t wait too long before making an offer. The longer you wait, the greater the chances are that other potential buyers will visit the home and decide they want to make an offer, too.

Make a List of Must-Haves vs. Want-to-Haves
What do you really want in a home and what can you live without? Sure, we all want the home of our dreams, but we have to be willing to adjust. Before you begin shopping, make a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. This will help your agent narrow down the list of properties you’ll be seeing and help both of you move quickly when you find the right one.

Make a Strong, Competitive Bid
In a seller’s market, homeowners may receive several offers, so make sure yours is strong by working with your agent to decide what a fair price for the home is and how to craft the best offer. If your initial offer is too low, you may be out of the running before you even get started.

Be Flexible in Your Offer
Sometimes it’s not the highest bid that wins in a competitive market. If you can offer a larger down payment or even be flexible about when you move in, you might be able to increase your chances. Sellers looking to buy another home themselves may even welcome the opportunity to retain possession of the home after escrow closes for an agreed upon period of time.

Write a Letter to the Sellers
Many sellers are receiving multiple offers these days. Sometimes a personal letter about why you want to buy their home can make your offer stand out. This may be an opportunity to make a favorable impression on the hearts of the sellers and move ahead of other bidders.

Don’t Give Up!
Trying to buy a home these days isn’t easy. In a seller’s market, the chances are that some of your initial offers will be rejected and you can’t take it personally. It’s just part of the process. Don’t give up! While it can be frustrating, the search won’t last forever.

If you've been thinking about buying a home, I'd be happy to answer any of your questions and help you find the right home for you. Please give me a call or email me and we'll get started today!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 
Why now may be the right time to downsize your home

For many people, their house may be their biggest asset. But it also can be their biggest expense. That's true whether they're planning for retirement or even if they already are in retirement. So it's no wonder that many homeowners begin to think about selling their home and moving into a smaller one as they approach their golden years.

Downsizing your home doesn't have to mean downsizing your lifestyle. Homes have steadily expanded over the years with the average home now more than 2,600 square feet in the U.S. according to Census data – 60% larger than it was 40 years ago when families were bigger! So there is plenty of room to downsize without cramping your style.

But downsizing doesn't necessarily mean moving to a smaller home. It can also mean moving to a less expensive residence that's the same size. Something as simple as moving from a top, reputable school district to a district that is not highly rated may lower the cost of a house. And if you do not have school age children, the quality of the school district may not be that important to you.

If you've been kicking around the idea of cashing in on your home's equity and moving into a smaller property, there are a number of reasons why it may be the best move you can make right now:

•The housing market in our area has rebounded quite nicely from the recession with the value of many homes climbing in recent years. Cashing in on some of that equity appreciation may help provide retirement income and extend the life of your nest egg. For more information on the propriety of such a move, please first consult with your financial advisor.
•A smaller home may mean a smaller mortgage payment each month if you are still paying off an existing loan. Or it might mean paying off your mortgage entirely and being debt free on your new home. Additionally, downsizing may lower your property taxes, energy costs, property insurance and ongoing maintenance and repair expenses depending upon the choices you make.

•According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR), housing costs (including utilities, taxes and upkeep), represent one of the biggest expenses for a retired couple – 30 percent of expenses for a couple aged 65-74. That's money that can be spent on other things in retirement.

•For example, CRR estimates that a couple downsizing from a $600,000 home to a $400,000 home may be able to cut their annual expenses and increase their annual income from savings by more than $11,000 combined. CRR provides a calculator that may enable you to determine your own savings here. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your financial advisor before making any decisions.

•Some homeowners are reluctant to trade a house for a condominium or town house because of concerns regarding the financial impact of homeowners’ association fees. While such fees can change one’s monthly budget, keep in mind that you may be paying similar expenses as a homeowner in the form of maintenance and upkeep costs.
•While a smaller home may mean less space, it could also mean less time and aggravation spent on keeping up a big house. Without all the work that goes into keeping up a bigger home, you may actually find a lot more time to enjoy traveling, hanging out with friends, picking up new hobbies and, generally, having more fun!

•Moving from a suburban home to an apartment or condo building in a downtown area with amenities on site may open up a whole new world for retirees. Those who have made the switch often find that they now can enjoy more trips to the theater, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping, as well as taking advantage of fitness centers and other on-site activities.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it can pay to downsize sooner rather than later for those approaching retirement or already retired. The financial benefits can add up over time. Additionally, as we get older, moving gets harder thus it may make a lot of sense to move now rather than waiting.

If I can help answer any of your questions about downsizing, please give me a call or e-mail me today. I'd be happy to discuss the pros and cons of making a move and help you decide if downsizing is right for you.

Monday, June 15, 2015 
10 Simple Conservation Tips to Help Homeowners Save Water & Money This Year

Many communities throughout Colorado are experiencing below normal precipitation and below average reservoir storage, which can impact water supplies for all residents. As a result of persistent dry conditions, Governor Hickenlooper has activated the Drought Response and Mitigation Plan to ensure that the state is doing everything possible to address drought related impacts.

There are a number of simple steps that homeowners can take to help conserve our water resources – and possibly even save money in the long run. Some of the steps may even improve your home's appeal to potential buyers when it comes time to sell.

A typical household uses approximately 260 gallons of water every day, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can reduce consumption by using water more efficiently. Here are 10 water conservation steps for both the inside and outside of your home to help get you started:

Replace old toilets. According to the EPA, toilets are one of the main sources of water usage in homes, accounting for nearly 30% of indoor water consumption. Toilets are also a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency. Older toilets use up to 3.5 gallons per flush. The EPA estimates that switching to high-efficiency, low-flow toilets can potentially save a family of four, an average of $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets.

Replace or fix faucets. EPA statistics indicate that faucets account for more than 15% of indoor household water use. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets can reduce water flow by 30% or more. If you do not want to buy a new faucet, consider replacing the aerator – the screw-on tip of the faucet that determines its flow rate. Aerators are inexpensive to replace and can often be an effective water-efficiency measure. You can also significantly reduce water usage by simply repairing leaks in toilets, faucets, showerheads and pipes.

Replace showerheads. EPA estimates that showering accounts for approximately 17% of residential indoor water use Quality, high-efficiency shower fixtures can be purchased for approximately $10 to $20 each and could achieve a water savings of 25-60%. The best recommendation is to select a high-efficiency showerhead with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gallons per minute for maximum water efficiency.

Use a water meter to check for hidden leaks. Read your house water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same as when you began, there may be a leak.

Turn off the water after wetting your toothbrush. Leaving the water running while brushing your teeth is a habit many of us have. But there is no need to keep the water running. Just wet your brush and fill a glass for mouth rinsing.

Replace an old clothes washer. New Energy Star rated washers use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. If you're in the market for a new clothes washer, consider buying a water-saving frontload washer.

Always use full loads in dishwashers and clothes washers. Automatic dishwashers and clothes washers should be fully loaded for optimum water conservation. With clothes washers, avoid the permanent press cycle, which can add five gallons of water for the extra rinse.

Plant drought-resistant lawns, shrubs and plants. Many beautiful shrubs and plants thrive with far less watering than other plants and lawns. Consider replacing perennial borders with native plants, which use less water and will be more resistant to local plant diseases, while possibly adding to the curb appeal of your home. You can find more water efficient landscaping tips at http://eartheasy.com/grow_xeriscape.htm.

Water early in the morning or late at night. If you must water your yard, keep in mind that it is more efficient to water either early in the morning or late at night when there is less water waste due to evaporation. It is also best to avoid watering when it's windy since wind can cause sprinklers to miss their intended targets and it can speed up evaporation.

Water your lawn only when necessary. Most lawns only need about one inch of water each week. According to the website Eartheasy, a conservation website, a good way to see if your lawn needs watering is to step on the grass. If it springs back up when you move, it doesn't need water. If it stays flat, the lawn is ready for watering.

Monday, April 20, 2015 
Should you buy or rent?  Things to consider when making your decision:
To buy or to rent?” That seems to be the question lots of people are wrestling with these days with interest rates still near historic lows and the housing market continuing to gain strength in most communities.

Recent graduates, thirty-somethings, relocating professionals and even current homeowners have probably considered both scenarios recently. While each option has its pluses and minuses, the decision to purchase a home as opposed to renting is a complex one and really depends a lot on your individual circumstances.

According to a recent survey conducted for the National Association of REALTORS®, nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home today is a good financial decision. But the question that remains is whether or not now is the right time for you to buy.

For most people, buying a home is the biggest financial decision they will make in their lifetime. Here are just a few things to consider when deciding between renting and buying:

Do you have a steady income? Buying may be a sound financial decision for those with documented income and a good credit history. A steady income can provide a strong basis for the initial down payment and future mortgage payments. Lenders will look at your ability to repay the mortgage and how positive your credit history is when deciding if you qualify for a loan.

Can you cover the other expenses? When you own a single family home, you – not your landlord –will be responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs, everything from a leaky faucet to replacing a roof. Will you have enough money left over in your budget each month (after paying the mortgage, property taxes and insurance) to cover any repair issues that may pop up?

How long do you plan to stay in your home? Although homes often appreciate over time in most areas and many owners build equity through monthly mortgage payments that go towards the principal of the loan, values can go up or down during any period of time. Generally, the longer you plan on staying in your home, the more likely that buying may be the right move for you.

How much will your rent increase in the future? Obviously no one knows for sure what the future will bring, but a recent study by Trulia found that rents on average are increasing faster than home prices. In fact, homeownership remains 38% cheaper than renting nationally, and it's less expensive in all of the 100 largest metro areas studied by Trulia. But each neighborhood and each home are different, so it's important to do your homework.

How do your other options compare? For renters, calculating month-to-month housing expenses is as easy as inquiring about the monthly rent and average utilities. The calculation gets a bit more complicated when considering the monthly cost and benefits of owning a home. Buy-versus-rent calculators, which are available on websites such as ColdwellBanker.com, offer a good start in comparing the two options.

There is a lot to consider when weighing the pros and cons of buying a home, and you’ll likely have a lot of questions. The best thing that you can do before making a decision is to do your homework and become better educated on your options. I'm here to help answer your questions and find the right course for you. Give me a call or send me an email and we can get started today.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015 
Tips for getting your home ready to sell
With the spring home buying season just around the corner, you may be thinking about putting your home up for sale. Now may be the time to list your home with strong demand from buyers and a limited number of properties on the market in most areas.

If you're kicking around the idea of selling, you may be worried that there's too much to do to get your house ready to market. But a few simple, relatively inexpensive steps can make a big difference when it comes time to show off your home to prospective buyers.

Many sellers use a professional "stager" to help make their home really look its best and get the greatest possible interest from buyers. These are the folks that make those model homes look so neat and beautiful with their arrangements of furniture, accessories, and gardens.

Using a professional stager may be the right move for you. But regardless of whether you decide to hire a stager or not, it may be appropriate to think like one when it comes time to get your home ready to put on the market:

Maximize Curb Appeal: The old saying is true: you only get once chance to make a good first impression. Make sure that the outside of your home looks as appealing as possible. Water and mow the lawn, trim the trees, cut back overgrowth and plant colorful flowers in the front and back.

Clear the Clutter: When it comes to staging, less is more. Having fewer things filling the rooms makes your home look both neater and roomier. It allows buyers to more easily visualize their own furnishings there. Be sure to store bicycles, gardening equipment, and children's and pet’s toys. Also move any cars from the driveway and along the curb in front of your home.

Focus on the Living Areas First: A living room is an area in which potential buyers should be able to envision themselves entertaining friends or gathering with their family. With that in mind, consider making the area appear as large and functional as possible by removing any unnecessary furniture and decorations.

Make Your Home Anonymous: Of course you’re proud of your family, but now is not the time to show their pictures and mementos. Stow away family photos, trophies, collectibles and any other personal items. You want buyers to imagine their families in the house, and that’s hard to do with constant reminders of your family. This process can also help you declutter.

Make Necessary Repairs: Look at your house with a critical eye. The last thing you want potential buyers to see are chipped tiles in the bathroom, a faucet that doesn’t work, or burned out bulbs in light fixtures. All systems and appliances should be in good working condition.

Consider Cosmetic Improvements: Simple, cosmetic touch-ups like painting, wallpapering, adding new light fixtures, and minor landscaping, can really help a home show better. If you paint, make sure it’s in a neutral color. You don't need to spend a lot of money on these projects to help make your home look its best but remember that if there are any problems these must be disclosed to potential buyers whether or not the problems have been remediated.

Give Your Home a Good Cleaning: This can be the most cost-effective thing you do in prepping your home for sale. Potential buyers will want to inspect every part of your home, from the kitchen to the bathrooms to the garage. After removing any clutter, clean the inside of the house from top to bottom. Clean carpets, spotless kitchens and bathrooms, and tidy bedrooms can help make a positive impression.

Add a Few Final Touches: When stagers are through decluttering a home they finish by adding a few carefully selected items for beauty - a painting in the living room, fresh flowers in the kitchen, an accent pillow for the sofa, or maybe an area rug for the bedroom.

Preparing your home for sale doesn't have to be an overwhelming, costly endeavor. By making a few simple changes you can help make a difference when it comes time to sell. A professional REALTOR® can help you through this process and have your home ready to list in no time! Give me a call and we'll get started today.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 
Luxury Home Sales Continue to Climb in November in Denver Metro Area
The Denver Metro Area’s luxury housing market turned in a strong November with sales rising more than 19 percent from a year ago while the median sale price was essentially flat, according to a new report by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

The figures are based on Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million last month in the Denver Metro Area.

A total of 81 luxury homes sold in November, up from 68 in November 2013, a 19.1 percent increase. On a monthly basis, luxury sales fell short of October’s 92 transactions, although a seasonal drop from October to November isn’t unusual.

Meanwhile, the median sale price of a luxury property last month was $1,322,500, down fractionally from a year ago when it stood at $1,325,000. November’s median sale price was up 5.2 percent from October.

Other key market indicators were positive. Homes sold at a faster pace on average in November than they did a year ago, and sellers received a higher percentage of their asking price on average.

“The housing market typically starts slowing down this time of year with the holidays approaching and other family events going on, but this year we’re still seeing a fair amount of activity out there,” said Chris Mygatt, president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Open houses are still very well attended and we’re seeing a lot of serious buyers looking to purchase and close before year-end. We’re hoping this steady demand carries over into 2015.”

Some key findings from this month’s luxury report:
•The most expensive sale in the Denver Metro Area last month was a six-bedroom, two-bath approximately 10,000-square-foot home in Greenwood Village that sold for $3,825,000;
•Denver boasted the most million-dollar sales with 25, followed by Boulder with 17, Castle Rock with eight and Greenwood Village with five;
•Homes sold in an average of 104 days on the market, down from 132 days a year ago but up from 99.9 days the previous month;
•Sellers received an average of 97 percent of their asking price, up from 95 percent a year ago and 96 percent the previous month.

Monday, January 12, 2015 
2015 Shaping Up to be a Banner Year to Sell Your Home...
Be Sure to Get a Jump on Things Sooner Than Later!

* Home values are on the rise making it an opportunistic time to up-size, downsize or right size.

* Demand for housing in Colorado is strong thus homes are selling quickly when priced right, staged well, and marketed properly.

* Inventory of homes on the market are at record lows giving you the competitive advantage.

* Get a jump on things before the spring influx of homes hits the market. Interest rates are still at record low levels, making it ideal for buyers right now. Don’t wait!

* The job market in Colorado is at an all-time high, which is great news for the New Year.

It looks like the ideal scenario and all indicators are pointed in the right direction to sell a home in Colorado in the early part of the New Year. When you’re ready to make the move, we’re ready to help you get the job done right and the job done well.

Friday, November 21, 2014
Why Winter might be a good time to sell your home
Colorado’s housing market has been strong this year. There have been
stories of crowded open houses, multiple offers on some listings, and even
bidding wars on specific properties that push prices skyward. Now that winter has arrived, some homeowners may believe that they have missed their window of opportunity to sell and that they should wait until next spring.
Don’t be fooled; this may actually be a very good time to sell your home.
A combination of continued demand from serious buyers, a lack of available
inventory in many of our markets, ongoing relocations into Colorado, and
a warm, cozy feeling from homes over the holidays all add up as good
reasons for why winter may be a better time to list a home than most
people realize. Consider all of the following:

• Continued demand from buyers. As anyone who’s followed the
news this year knows, there have been more buyers than sellers for
homes in Colorado. While the number of potential buyers at open
houses may have dropped off in recent weeks—which is traditionally
expected during the winter—there is still far more “traffic” than we
usually see at this time of year.

• “Serious buyers” in the market now. During the winter months, there
tend to be fewer “lookers” than in the spring and summer, and more
serious buyers. These are often people who must buy for specific
reasons, such as employment relocation. As a result, they are more
likely to act quickly when they find the right property.

• A lack of available inventory. The number of listings has been
relatively low all year compared to historical averages. The shortage
of available inventory has helped to push prices higher in some areas.
It is expected that this time of year there will be even fewer homes
than the months preceding it, and that can mean less competition and more
  potential buyer attention for your listing..

• Great natural “staging” this time of year. There’s a certain warm feeling that comes with being in a home during the holidays. Homes just feel friendlier and cozier with holiday decorations, the fireplace glowing in the living room, and special cookies baking in the oven. These holiday touches can help “stage” a home, giving it the very best possible look and feel to sell. Buyers who walk into a home during the holidays may have an easier time envisioning their family at happy gatherings there, too.

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the winter, there are a few things you should be doing. Start with improving your “curb appeal.” Clean up
flowerbeds and rake any leaves on the lawn. Make sure weeds are pulled and shrubs are pruned. In the backyard, put away any summer items like pool
toys. In general, keep things clean and neat.

Embrace the holiday season and use appropriate decor. Keep decorations
in tune with the holiday that’s approaching. Doing so can help potential
buyers see themselves and their families enjoying the same holidays in your
home. But be careful not to overdo it.

It’s also important to price your home properly. I can help
you determine the appropriate price – based upon recent comparable
home sales in your area and the anticipated inventory of available homes.
Pricing your home correctly can increase the chances of getting a good
offer faster.

Finally, it’s more important than ever to work with an experienced real
estate professional. Look for an agent that has a solid track record in your
community and can provide you with good advice on how best to prepare
and market your home during the winter season.

While winter is not traditionally seen as the best time to sell a home, as
explained above, there are a lot of advantages to listing your home
now – especially at a time when others might shy away from selling. With
a few simple steps, you just may find that selling your home this winter may be the best move you’ll ever make.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tips for Buying a Vacation Home
As we move through the heart of summer, many Colorado residents are enjoying their annual vacation trips to the lake, the mountains, the coast or perhaps tropical locales like Hawaii or Mexico. Relaxing in such a beautiful setting often makes travelers think about owning their own vacation home so the holiday never has to end.

If thoughts of owning a second home have crossed your mind, you're not alone. In fact, vacation home sales have been surging in recent years as consumers take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and more affordable prices on many second homes.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, vacation home sales jumped 29.7 percent last year to an estimated 717,000 units from 553,000 in 2012. That compares to a 13.1 percent increase in owner-occupied purchases during that time.

If you are thinking about buying a second home, here are a few important things to consider:

Assess your goals. You may be thinking about buying a second home for vacation enjoyment or to get a jump on a retirement home. No matter what the reason, it's important to think through how often you plan to use the home versus the expenses, and if it truly makes sense to purchase rather than rent.
Location, location, location. Consider a destination that offers things that interest you and your family, whether it’s a beach resort, a ski area, or a place where you can play golf or fish. Your second home should be close enough to your primary residence that you’ll be able to use it often - maybe just a few hours away. Given rising gas prices and airfares, that may be more important than ever.

Visit the destination. By doing so, you will get a feel for the travel time and the area’s culture and resources. Many people who buy a vacation home ultimately use the property as their primary residence upon retirement, so it is extremely important to think about how the location fits into your long term plans.

What type of property best suits your needs? Often when people think of a vacation property, they think of a cabin in the mountains or house on the shore. But condominiums and townhouses in resort communities can be a great alternative to single-family houses when it comes to vacation homes. They may have a lower price tag, the maintenance and upkeep may be less, and they may provide recreational facilities, including swimming pools and barbecue areas.

Golf course homes. A condo or house on a golf course can make a wonderful vacation home, especially for the weekend duffer. But there can be a few traps and hazards with golf properties that you’ll need to watch out for. Depending on where your home is situated, it might be in the path of wayward golf balls and it is possible that proximity to the golf course may create other noise or nuisance issues. You may also want to partake in a few rounds of golf at the course before buying so you can assess whether or not this is where you want to play.

Rely on a professional REALTOR®. With mortgage rates historically low and prices still affordable in many areas, this may be a good time to buy a second home. However, finding the right property at the right price can be challenging. More than ever, it’s important to work with an experienced real estate professional who understands the ins and outs of second homes and the particular market you're considering. With a little help from a knowledgeable agent, you will be able to find a vacation home that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Why Now May Be a Good Time to Move
up to a Larger Home

You’re beginning to feel a little cramped in that home that seemed so perfect several years ago. There just aren’t enough bedrooms anymore, or adequate storage space or a big enough back yard for the kids and the dog to play. Or maybe there is another little one on the way - a baby, not a dog!

Many Colorado residents are facing a similar dilemma these days. While that small bungalow or rancher made perfect sense back when you bought it, you are quickly realizing that you have outgrown your home. The good news is that this may actually be a good time to move up to a larger home or one in a neighborhood you've been eyeing.

Up until recently, many homeowners who bought just before the peak of the housing market had little opportunity to move up to a larger home. Many of them were "underwater" on their mortgage, meaning they owed more on their loan than the home was worth. But that has changed in the past couple of years.

The number of homeowners who are seriously underwater on their mortgage, meaning their debt exceeds their home value by 25% or more, has fallen since the recession, according to housing data firm RealtyTrac. The number dropped to just 17% nationwide in the first quarter of 2014, down from 26% a year ago. That statistic indicates that more homeowners may be able to pull equity out of their properties to move up to another home.

With home prices in Colorado steadily rising, there's a good chance your home is worth more than you think.

Getting into a larger home isn’t the only reason homeowners typically think about moving. Others consider “trading spaces” because of job relocations or a desire to get into a certain school district or simply because they’ve been pining after that dream home in a nicer neighborhood. Others may actually be thinking about downsizing as they enter retirement or leaving the area for a retirement destination elsewhere.

If you've been kicking around the idea of moving up, downsizing or simply trading spaces, there are several reasons why the current housing market may work in your favor right now:

* Entry-level homes are in greater demand. One of the hottest segments of the housing market has been low to mid-priced homes in many communities. Well-qualified first-time buyers and others are out there looking for a home while interest rates are still historically low and prices are relatively affordable. In some areas, there are multiple offers for the best properties.

* Inventory is still low. The number of homes on the market remains very low by historical standards. While there's no shortage of buyers these days, there certainly is a shortage of good home listings for them to pick from in many areas. The law of supply and demand may work in your favor.

* Mortgage rates are still near historic lows. Low rates help make homes more affordable -– including yours and the home you want to move up to. With 30-year fixed rate mortgages still hovering in the low 4% range, buyers can stretch their housing dollars a lot further these days.

Making the decision to move up to a larger home is just the beginning, of course. There are a myriad of issues that go into selling your existing home and getting into a move-up property that’s just right for you. That’s where a professional REALTOR® can help. Working with a seasoned agent who knows your market may be the best move you ever make. Give me a call or send me an e-mail and we'll get started today!

Friday, May 30, 2014
How to Take Advantage of Today’s Hot Seller’s Market
Even If You Haven’t Found a New Home Just Yet –

Listing your home for sale before you’ve found another might seem
problematic on the surface, but there are ways to do it, so long as you
cover your bases.

Many people are familiar with the concept of homebuyers making their
offer to purchase a property contingent upon the sale of their home in
a certain amount of time. Sellers may specify in the Purchase Contract
that they are willing to sell their home to a buyer contingent upon  them finding a replacement home to purchase in a certain period of time. If you’re interested in selling your home, but are looking for a little peace of mind, consider the benefits of a seller contingency.

If you’re interested in selling your home but are concerned about how to finance the purchase of another home while still holding a mortgage on your current home, cross-collateralization may be an option. Cross-collateralization is comparable to taking out a second mortgage on your home. You use the equity in your current home as the collateral for the loan on a new home, givingyou greater freedom to list your home for sale.

No one can really know the precise “best” time in any market to buy or sell, so another option may be to take advantage of the current, strong real estate market by selling now, renting a home and then buying at a later time when the market may slow down. By selling now and temporarily renting you are better able to take your time and find the right home at the right price without feeling pressured to immediately buy something else. Additionally, by waiting
to buy until the after the market changes you may be able to avoid multiple offer situations and the bidding wars that we are currently
seeing in some areas.

Today’s real estate market is as hot for sellers as it has been in more than a decade. While there are challenges for sellers as well as buyers, you don’t have to let that stop you from taking advantage of these favorable conditions. If you’d like to sell and move to another property but aren’t sure how to go about it, I’m ready to answer any questions you might have. From creative ways to structure your listing agreement to non-conventional methods of financing, I’m here to help and just a phone call away!

Friday, April 18, 2014
What Housing Bubble? Trulia Says US Home Prices Still 5% Undervalued –

Although national home prices rose significantly in the past two years, they’re still 5% undervalued compared with long-term fundamentals. See the Forbes review with Trulia’s Chief Economist.

Sunday, March 16, 2014
Want to Sell Your Home? The Spring Selling Season May Be Coming Early This Year… 

If you’re considering selling your home in 2014, now is the time to get ready. Not next month, not next week, not tomorrow, Right Now. Why? Because buyers are already on the hunt. Read more from the investing community at fool.com.

Sunday, March 9, 2014
Listings Could Predict Home Prices – 

Selling a house can take months, which helps explain why home prices are one of the most lagging of economic indicators. However, due to the growing volumes of price and listing data collected, economists hope to generate real-time price indices similar to the ones available for more liquid assets, such as stocks. This could potentially help buyers, builders and agents get a better and earlier handle on where prices are headed. See the review in REALTOR Mag by NAR.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Home-Selling Secrets for Real Estate’s Off-Season –

It’s been said that spring and early summer are the best times to sell your house. But while spring might be the busiest time of the year for real estate transactions, homes get bought and sold every season of the year. Here are some tips for selling your home in the off-season, according to Credit.com, posted by Aol.com.

HUD: New FHA loan limit takes effect Jan 1
Beginning next year, homeowners with FHA loans will no longer be able to qualify for the $729,750 high-cost area loan limit. Instead, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is implementing a rule passed a few years back that moves the standard loan limit to $625,500. Read more in HousingWire.

Wednesday, December 31, 2013
Smart Tax Moves Homeowners Should Make Before 2013 Ends –
With little time before 2014, and a busy time of year, there are a few last-minute things homeowners may squeeze in to maximize tax benefits for 2013. Forbes has some suggestions that may work for you as the homeowner, depending where you’re located.

Picking a home over the phone –

More than half of all page views of listings nationwide now occur through a mobile device as opposed to a desktop computer, according to an analysis by Realtor.com. Of mobile searches, more than twice as many listings are viewed via iPad and iPhone than Android devices. Searches with iPhones are nearly three times as high as Android searches, as reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Housing outlook for 2014: Steady Sales and Higher Prices –

As we approach the end of 2013, it’s a good time to look back at the Colorado housing market and take a peek at what might be in store for the coming year.

In comparison with recent years, 2013 was a strong year for the real estate market, both here at home and across the country. Sales posted solid gains in most areas, foreclosures and distressed sales declined, and the median sale price continued to rebound sharply from their recessionary lows.

Almost half of the 276 metro areas nationwide saw double-digit increases in home prices last year, led by Las Vegas with a gain of 32%, according to Clear Capital, a national real estate data and analytic firm.

The Denver-Aurora Metro Area's median sale price hit $263,000 this year, an 11.6% increase from a year ago, according to Clear Capital.

The housing market benefited from a slow but steady improvement in the economy and the job market, as well as mortgage interest rates that ticked up slightly in 2013 but still remained attractive.

The challenge for many communities wasn’t finding buyers for homes – it was finding enough homes to meet strong buyer demand. That led to multiple offers on homes in many instances and resulted in sale prices exceeding asking prices for a number of properties.

The National Association of REALTORS® said existing home sales should reach nearly 5.13 million units when this year is over, up 10% from last year. And the median sale price, according to NAR®, is expected to be up 11% from a year ago.

So what can we expect for 2014? While no one has a crystal ball, industry experts believe home sales will remain near or slightly above 2013’s level. Additionally, economists are looking for prices to continue climbing due to a stronger economy, lower unemployment, and a shortage of homes available for sale.

NAR®’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun forecasts existing home sales to hold fairly even at about 5.12 million in 2014 and the median sale price to increase nearly 6% with inventory shortages being felt again next year.

Meanwhile, the Kiplinger Letter, in its annual economic forecast issue, calls for a 4% increase in existing home sales to 5.2 million units. The publication says new home sales are likely to jump about 16% next year after soaring 36% in 2013 and 20% in 2012.

Both Kiplinger and NAR® believe a shortage of inventory will continue to be a factor next year.

“Housing starts are the only way to alleviate inventory shortages,” Yun said. New home construction is expected to reach 1.13 million units next year, he forecasts, well short of the underlying demand of about 1.5 million.

While 2013 saw a strong seller’s market in many areas, the pendulum started swinging back to a better balance between buyers and sellers in recent months. That’s encouraging news for those buyers who have either sat on the sidelines or lost out in multiple offer situations.

Although housing experts like NAR's® Yun expect continued strong sales and rise in home values, they see a less frenzied, less competitive market in the new year for buyers with fewer multiple offer situations and less bidding up of sale prices.

So if you’ve been thinking about buying a home, now may be the time to get into the market and take advantage of these more favorable market conditions. And if you’ve been thinking about selling, there will likely continue to be healthy demand for your home from buyers in the coming year.

Only time will tell how 2014 will turn out for our local real estate market, but for now the housing market forecasts should give both potential homebuyers and sellers reason to celebrate the new year in style!

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Colorado home price index up 9.2% –
CoreLogic released its September home price index (HPI) numbers this week, with year-over-year increase of 9.22 percent for Colorado – the twenty-first month in a row for improvement, according to the Colorado Division of Housing review.

Small Home Improvements with Big Returns for Sellers – Even in a housing market where inventory is low, buyers still want a move-in ready house and are willing to pay more for one that’s turnkey. Sellers should identify what home improvement projects can help them get a better return, see FOX Business.

Lockheed changes mean more jobs for Denver – The Denver area will gain hundreds of jobs as Lockheed Martin Corp consolidates facilities across the country and shifts more work to its operations in Colorado, according to an announcement last week noted by the Denver Business Journal.

Saturday, November 9, 2013
Why now might be a good time to listing your home during the Holiday Season
While the holiday season from November to January is often considered a slower period for the housing market, there may be a number of advantages to listing your home now rather than waiting until the new year.

Holiday buyers tend to be more serious and often have a real need to buy for reasons such as a job relocation or a recent home sale. With fewer homes on the market, the competition for buyer interest is less fierce. Another reason selling during the holiday season may be advantageous is homes often seem more festive and inviting during this time of year, which can be a big plus when marketing properties.

There are a few things you can do to maximize your home’s charm and make selling during the holidays a little easier.

Increase curb appeal. First impressions are critical. Remove any late fall leaves, touch up the paint, prune the bushes, clean the gutters and generally spruce up the yard. Also help keep buyers’ safety in mind by making sure stairs and walkways are free of leaves and other debris.
Deck the halls, but keep it tasteful. Put up a few exterior holiday lights and decorations to display seasonal tidings and pride in ownership, but be careful not to overdo it. Keep it consistent with the rest of the neighborhood. A holiday welcome mat outside the front door is also an inviting touch.
Keep the house warm and welcoming. Fall and early winter bring cooler weather, so make sure the home is warm and cozy while potential buyers are touring. Running the central heating system will not only make your home feel more comfortable, it will show buyers how well the system works. If the house has a fireplace, light a fire to bring the room to life and enhance the ambience.
Decorate the home's interior. You want to bring out the warmth and glow of the holiday season inside your home, but again don't go overboard. Be conservative with holiday decorations and decorate to accentuate the house, but be mindful not to cover it. There is a thin line between tasteful décor and a room that looks like a temporary holiday store at the mall.
Price your home to sell. It's important any time of year to price your home appropriately to the market, its condition and features, but this is especially true in the fall and winter months. A home that’s priced attractively can pique buyer interest and may even get multiple offers over list price. But price it too high and the home could just sit, waiting for you to slash the price.
Stay in touch with your REALTOR®. Everyone likes to enjoy time off during the holidays to spend with their families. But it’s important for you and your agent to stay plugged in. Tell your agent as early as possible about any prospective vacations you may be taking. Work together on a schedule for open houses and showings that accommodate your plans for holiday parties and out-of-town visitors.
The holidays are a wonderful time of year filled with excitement and cheer. What better time to show off your warm, cozy and festive home to potential buyers. This helps prospects visualize themselves in the house celebrating their own holiday. And if all goes well, you may receive the best present of all – a sold sign on the front lawn!

Thursday, October 24, 2013
Inventory Crunch Over? More Sellers Jump In
Housing inventories were on the rise in August, relieving many markets that had seen a tight number of homes for sale at the beginning of this year. More sellers are testing the market as price gains the past year give them more confidence. Although nationwide inventories have risen overall, Denver remained constrained overall according to NAR reports in Realtor Magazine.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Tax Benefits of Home Ownership and more
When selling your home, there are potential tax deductions as well as possible implications to consider. Some closing costs may be deductible including and not limited to real estate commissions, title insurance, legal fees, and surveys. Capital gains or losses may apply, and your tax expert can advise you on determining your basis and adjustments.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
 Another record high for metro Denver home prices –
For the second straight month, Denver area home sales prices reached an all time high level in June, according to the latest S&P Case-Shiller Home Prices Index. The widely followed gauge of home resale prices in 20 US cities showed Denver prices were up 9.4 percent in June from a year earlier, the 18th consecutive month with a year-over-year gain, reported by the Denver Business Journal.

Monday, August 19, 2013
Fourteen Major Markets Top Peak Prices – 
Another measure of the strength of the housing recovery has found that April prices have pushed 14 major markets, including Omaha, Denver and Pittsburgh, over the peak prices they reached during the housing boom. See more in Real Estate Economy Watch.

Colorado continues to rank as a top spot for business – CNBC ranked Colorado as 7th best state for business, moving up a notch from last year. More than 50 measures of competitiveness were used to determine the national rankings. See more in the Metro Denver website and link to CNBC.

Thursday, August 8, 2013
More Homeowners in a Position to Sell Their Home as Prices Rise and "Underwater" Mortgages Decline

Rising home prices over the past couple of years are reducing the number of homeowners who are “underwater” in their mortgage, bringing more potential sellers off the sidelines to take advantage of the robust housing market.

That’s good news for hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the country, but the trend also provides relief for many frustrated buyers who have been fighting over the limited inventory of homes on the market.

Being “underwater” or “upside down” on a mortgage means that homeowners owe more on their loans than their properties are worth – often referred to as having “negative equity.” The result is that these homeowners can find it extremely difficult to sell their property, especially if they’re trying to buy another home.

Underwater mortgages grew during the recession and the housing downturn. According to CoreLogic, which tracks underwater mortgages nationwide, more than one out of every four homeowners nationwide owed more on their home than it was worth in 2010.

But that trend is changing quickly, and homeowners who thought they were underwater might be surprised to learn they no longer are.

“The impressive home price gains of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 have had a big impact on the distribution of residential home equity,” said Dr. Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic. “During the past year, 1.7 million borrowers have regained positive equity.”

Dr. Fleming called the decline in underwater mortgages “a virtuous circle” in a recent Associated Press article. “The fact that house prices have increased so dramatically ... has unlocked a lot of that pent-up supply,” he said.

According to CoreLogic, at the end of March, 19.8 percent of the nation’s mortgaged homes were underwater, down from 23.7 percent a year earlier and 25 percent during the same period of 2011.

The improvement has been seen in every region of the country, although it varies by location. While some states and cities are doing much better than average, others that experienced the strongest price increases and sharpest drop-off during the recession have a higher percentage of underwater mortgages.

Colorado as a whole is much better than the national average with just 14.2 percent of homeowners having negative equity. That’s down sharply from 20.7 percent just a year ago.

How do we compare with the rest of the country? Here are some findings:

Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity during the first quarter of the year at 45.4 percent, followed by Florida (38.1 percent), Michigan (32 percent), Arizona (31.3 percent) and Georgia (30.5 percent).
On the other end of the spectrum, Montana had the highest percent of homeowners with positive equity at 94.4 percent, followed by North Dakota (94.1 percent), Alaska (93.9 percent), Texas (92.8 percent), and Wyoming (92.6 percent).
Of the largest 25 metropolitan areas, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida had the highest percentage of mortgaged properties in negative equity at 41.1 percent, followed by the Miami area (40.7 percent), Atlanta (34.5 percent), Chicago (34.2 percent) and the Warren-Troy-Farmington Hills, Michigan metro area (33.6 percent).
The inventory of homes for sale across the country has fallen over the past year. According to the National Association of Realtors®, there was a 5.2-month supply of existing, single-family homes for sale in May, compared to 6.4 months a year earlier. And inventory is even lower in many of our Colorado communities.

So if you’ve been thinking about selling your home, this may be a good time to make your move and take advantage of this strong seller’s market. Your home may have more equity than you think. I’m ready to answer any questions you may have about selling your home and the best ways to get the most for your property. Give me a call and we’ll get started today.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Higher mortgage rates squeezing Colorado homebuyers

Mortgage rates have risen so sharply that they are leaving many would-be borrowers with financial vertigo, not to mention bruises from repeatedly kicking themselves. The
Denver Post has more with an interview with Donald Frommeyer, president of the National Association of Mortgage Professionals.

Tuesday, June 23, 2013
Denver homes had fastest turnover of any major metro area in April –
Denver had the highest share of homes selling within seven days or fewer in April among the US’s major metro areas according to a report from ZipRealty and the Denver Post. Nearly 4 in 10 Denver metro homes put on the market sold within seven days in April, up 22 percent in April 2012.

Homes Selling as Fast as They Did During Housing Boom
Strong demand and limited supply mean homes are selling nearly three times as fast as normal. The average number of days a listing stayed on the market in April was 46, down from 62 in March and from a normal pace of 90 – 120 days according to NAR. Watch or read more in the AOL Real Estate and CNBC report.

Tuesday, June 11
, 2013
How to be the Most Attractive Homebuyer
As home prices continue to recover and interest rates remain at near-record lows, some houses are receiving multiple offers and to win the bid, buyers need to stand out from the crowd. According to NAR, houses sold in 71 days in January, down from 99 days a year ago. With stiff competition in the market and the spring season upon us which tends to see a flood of buyers, check out the article in Fox Business that gives you an idea how to make your offer stand out.

Colorado Home Sale Prices Rising
Colorado’s housing market has seen a rise in sale prices as strong buyer demand, historically attractive interest rates, an improving economy and a shortage of listings are combining to create a robust seller’s market.
The Denver Metro Area’s median sale price of $255,000 in May was up 8% compared with the same period last year, according to MLS data analyzed by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. In the Northern Colorado counties, the median sale price is up even more – 13% to $262,000.
One of the reasons for the surge in prices is that there just aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. Inventory has fallen to its lowest level in many years with Colorado’s active listings in May down more than 50% from a year ago, according to MLS data. click here for more info

Sunday May 19
, 2013
Selling your home? The cards are in your favor -  
In most parts of the country, you have regained the upper hand. To get your best price, you need to finesse your timing, list competitively and match your marketing strategy to local conditions. Read more in CNNMoney and consult your local real estate professional.

Home starts up 52 percent in a year in metro Denver The Denver Business Journal reported that homebuilders in metro Denver started 52 percent more homes in the first quarter of 2013 than in the same period last year, according to a new report by Metro study 1,596 homes in 2013 compared to 1,050 in the first quarter of 2012.

Thursday May 9, 2013
Home Buyer Tips in a Seller's Market
Anyone who has tried to buy a home lately knows that it can be very challenging. Historically low mortgage rates have brought homebuyers out in force. At the same time, there is a limited inventory of homes for sale. Resale listings are at their lowest level in many years and homebuilders are just now starting to replenish their supply of new construction, according to figures from the National Association of Home Builders.

All of those factors have led to a seller’s market. Homebuyers are competing with each other for the relatively few listings on the market, leading to multiple offers in many cases – sometimes as many as a dozen or more – and sale prices climbing above the asking price.

Trying to buy a home in a seller’s market can be frustrating and you may not be able to land the first home you want to buy. Still, there are ways to increase your chances of success. Here are some tips that may turn the odds in your favor:

Work With an Experienced, Knowledgeable Realtor®
In a hot seller’s market, the selling process tends to move much faster than normal. As a buyer, you often have to move quickly as well, while still making prudent decisions about the home purchase. An experienced, knowledgeable real estate professional will know the neighborhood, the pluses and minuses of the home, what the sellers are looking for in an offer and how to improve your chances to come out on top in a competitive market.

Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
When you’re searching for a home, one of the first things you need to do is get pre-approved by a strong lender. This is different from pre-qualifying, as it is a full loan approval instead of simply an opinion letter. It is best that you take this step before looking at homes so you can go into your home search knowing what you can afford. Being pre-approved may also put you in a better negotiating position, as the seller knows the buyer is ready, willing and able to buy, and the financing is not in question. Those buyers who are not pre-approved have less chance of obtaining an accepted offer on the house they wish to buy.

Be Prepared to Act Quickly When You Find the Right Home
Time is of the essence in this market. Winning buyers often act fast while those who wait may lose out. So after finding a home you like in your price range, don’t wait too long before making an offer. The longer you wait, the greater the chances are that other potential buyers will visit the home and decide they want to make an offer, too. And the more competition, the tougher your chances of coming out on top. So if you find the right home, make your move!

Make a List of Must-Haves vs. Want-to-Haves
Greater competition means buyers have to move quickly and decisively when they find the right home. But what is the right home for you? What do you really want in a home and what can you live without? Sure, we all want the home of our dreams, but we have to be willing to adjust. Before you begin shopping, make a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. This will help your agent narrow down the list of properties you’ll be seeing and help both of you move quickly when you find the right one.

Make a Strong, Competitive Bid
In a seller’s market, homeowners may receive several offers, so make sure yours is strong by working with your agent to decide what a fair price for the home is and how to craft the best offer. If your initial offer is too low, you may be out of the running before you even get started.

Make a Good Faith Deposit
Most offers to buy a house include a check as a “good faith deposit” or “earnest money.” The reason for the deposit is to impress upon the seller that the buyer earnestly intends to purchase the property. While there is no set amount required, it is customary to make a “good faith deposit” of 1 to 3 percent of the sales price. Your agent can help you determine this.

Be Flexible in Your Offer
Sometimes it’s not the highest bid that wins in a competitive market. If you can offer a larger down payment or even be flexible about when you move in, you might be able to increase your chances. Sellers looking to buy another home themselves may even welcome the opportunity to retain possession of the home after escrow closes for an agreed upon period of time.

Write a Letter to the Sellers
Many sellers are receiving multiple offers these days. Sometimes a personal letter about why you want to buy their home can make your offer stand out. This may be an opportunity to make a favorable impression on the hearts of the sellers and move ahead of other bidders.

Don’t Give Up!
Trying to buy a home these days isn’t easy. In a seller’s market, the chances are that some of your initial offers will be rejected and you can’t take it personally. It’s just part of the process. Don’t give up! While it can be frustrating, the search won’t last forever.

Friday, April 12, 2013
Home price index way up in Denver, increases 9.2 percentAccording to a report released in the last week of March by Case–Shiller, the home price index for the Denver area rose 9.2% year over year, from January 2012 to January 2013. This was the largest increase since 2001. Read more through the Colorado Division of Housing.

Wednesday,  April 10, 2013
New homebuyer/Agent sentiment survey by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s parent company has found a growing sense of optimism among buyers as the nation’s housing market continues to improve. In particular, buyers are becoming more confident about the stabilizing and increasing value of home prices.

The annual homebuyer survey, which drew 5,865 responses, was designed to discover what was behind the recent increases in buyer demand. The key finding here seems to be a growing optimism about improving prices, which appears to be driven by an extreme shortage of homes for sale in many markets.

While low interest rates and change in life situation were cited as the two highest factors motivating buyers, expectation that home prices will rise – a very new sentiment among buyers – came in a very close third. This optimism over values grew the most over the last 12 months (61 percent) closely followed by “increased optimism around selling” (51 percent).

Dan Barnett, senior vice president of marketing for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s parent company, said there is a very clear correlation between a growing optimism over prices and buyer frustration over the lack of homes for sale.

Despite increased buyer and seller optimism overall, there still does not seem to be a big increase in move up buyers. About 42 percent of Agents said move-up buying was increasing “modestly” and only 7 percent said it was increasing significantly.

Below are the results of the survey:
What is motivating buyers to look now (factor is “very motivating” or “motivating”):
83% Low interest rates
60% Change in life situation
57% Expectation that home prices will rise
51% Job relocation
46% Real estate investment value
43% Confidece in personal economic outlook
42% Increased optimism around selling
37% Rising rental prices

Which factors have become more important now than a year ago:
61% Expectation that home prices will rise
51% Increased optimism around selling
44% Low interest rates
35% Real Estate investment value
34% Confidence in personal economic outlook
28% Rising rental prices
27% Change in life situation
22% Job relocation

What are buyers complaining about:
(% saying “frequently” or both frequently and “more often than not”)

41% (69%) Lack of inventory
19% (52%) Uncertainty in economy
11% (44%) Home affordability
19% (43%) Difficulty with mortgage appraisal
18% (42%) Difficulty qualifying for a mortgage

How do buyers cope with limited inventory (Agent could pick more than one):
87% considered expanding the geography they would consider
85% prepared to pay more
74% considered distressed properties
70% stopped looking
54% considered buying new construction
54% considered foregoing a move

What is happening in the overall market: Prices:
63% of our Agents found that home prices were increasing, with larger increases identified on the west coast. Half of the San Francisco Agents described home prices as increasing significantly.

78% of our Agents found inventory to be decreasing. Atlanta, Florida, Hawaii and Sacramento are feeling the most constrained by low inventory.

Transaction volume:
Agents report that transactions are up somewhat – 40% - with the most activity being reported in the Midwest and West.

Buyer confidence:
60% of Agents report that buyer confidence is increasing, across the board. Sacramento and Harrisburg, while generally positive, lag the nation.

So what does all this mean for you? Every day, both buyers and sellers are growing more confident as the housing market continues its steady rebound. If you have been thinking about buying a home, you shouldn’t wait too long. We have a good window of opportunity right now when interest rates are low and prices are still very affordable. But that won’t last forever, as history has shown us. Even a small jump in mortgage rates could significantly change how much you’ll end up spending on a home. If you’ve been considering buying a home, there may not be a better time than now. I’m ready to help you find the home of your dreams today. Let’s get started!

Saturday March 23, 2013
New home sales up 80 percent in West region during January 2013 –
According to a recent report from the Colorado Division of Housing, new single–family home sales in the US West were up 80% from January 2012 to January 2013, coming in at 9,000 new homes this year. This is the largest number of new home sales in any month since August 2012, and the highest total for any January since 2008.

Low equity drives down the inventory of U.S. homes for sale –
Home sales around the country are on the rise. But finding a house to buy could be a big problem. The inventory of homes listed for sale is at the lowest point in more than a decade, as reviewed in the Denver Post business section.

Colorado ranks as second–happiest state – According to a new Gallup poll, Colorado is considered to be the second–happiest state. Considering emotional and physical health of residents in every state, the Gallup–Healthways Well–Being Index found only Hawaii was a happier place than Colorado.

Saturday March 9, 2013
Spring Home Maintenance Tips
As we arise from winter, here are a few maintenance tips to prepare your home for the change in seasons. Enjoy the beautiful weather after you check these off your to-do list.

• Check the gutters to make sure they're not loose or leaking. Downspouts should be clean from debris to properly drain water away from the foundation.

• Look for any soil damage around the foundation. Spring rains can cause flooding, so fill any low areas with compacted soil.

• Firewood should be stored safely away from buildings. Inspectors typically recommend 18-24 inches off the ground and a minimum of 2 feet from the structure.

• Check the roof for damage to shingles that may require repair or replacement. Flashing around vents, skylights or other structures may be needed as well.

• Inspect concrete slabs for cracks and make sure water drains away from the foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete filler, power-wash after completely set, and apply a concrete sealer. Replace slabs if necessary.

• Test outside faucets and hoses for freeze damage. Turn the faucet on and place your thumb over the opening. If water stops flowing, a pipe inside the home is most likely damaged. Check garden hoses for dry rot and leaks.

• Inspect siding and trim for chips or leaking and repair or replace as needed. Leaving these areas open to water damage can cause bigger problems later if ignored.

• Air Conditioning units should be checked by an HVAC professional to insure proper functionality. Tune-ups can help improve operating efficiencies with clean filters, hoses, and other components.

• Seal the deck and check for loose or rusting nails, splinters or rotting wood. It is recommended that wood decks are resealed annually. Also make sure railings or stairs are stable and secure.

• Replace window screens that have holes, and make sure screens are secure on doors and window frames.

• Weatherproof windows and doors. Spring is the perfect time to apply caulk or other products to keep homes cool in the spring and warm in the winter.

• Prune shrubs and trees to ensure proper drainage and add curb appeal to your property.

• Clean and tune-up lawn and garden equipment to be sure they are ready for summer use. Sharpen cutting blades to make yard work easier.

For other maintenance tips or home improvement ideas, go to
www.hgtv.com .

Friday, February 15, 2013
FHFA: Rocky Mountain region home prices up 14.7 percent –
House prices in November in the Mountain region, which includes Colorado, were up substantially, rising 14.7 percent, year–over–year from November 2011 to November 2012. Nationally, the house price index rose 5.7 percent over the same period. This is according to a recent release from FHFA and the Colorado Division of Housing.

Realtors predict big year for housing in metro area, but some disagree – Realtors and others in the industry are trumpeting a robust housing market in the Denver area and throughout Colorado in 2013, saying this year will be a continuation of the rebound the market enjoyed in 2012 – and perhaps even more, according to a Denver Post report.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013
That was ten - this is now: Rebound in Housing Market May Mean A Tremendous Opportunity for Home Sellers
As 2013 gets underway, Colorado's housing market is poised to continue the steady recovery that began last year. Home sales and the median sale price rose in most of our markets last year, and industry economists expect more improvement this year. Foreclosures and short sales continue to decline.

The only problem seems to be that many potential sellers don't realize that things have changed so dramatically since the downturn of the housing market, and they're missing out on a tremendous opportunity.

There's a severe shortage of homes for sale in many areas, which means that homeowners savvy enough to list their home right now are often getting multiple offers – and sometimes at prices we haven't seen in several years!

Available inventory of homes for sale in much of our region is down 50 percent or more just in the past year. Right now, there are more eager buyers out there than homes on the market to meet their demand.

With an imbalance between supply and demand, homebuyers have been fiercely competing with each other, and that's great news for sellers.

The Denver Metro Area is one of a growing number of metropolitan areas across the country now considered a seller's market, according to Metrolist, the region's multiple listing service. In both November and December, the number of homes sold, under contract or pending settlement outnumbered those available.

Approximately 3,400 homes sold in the region last month, an 8 percent jump from a year ago, and the average sale price climbed even faster, reaching $289,926, a 14 percent increase over the same month a year ago.

The inventory of single-family homes and condominiums has dropped by more than 50 percent from its high in July of 2010, Metrolist reported. Inventory at the end of December was the lowest it has been since 1998. And the average number of days it took to sell a home has fallen to just two and a half months.

The same trends that we are seeing here in Colorado are occurring in markets across the country, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Home sales nationwide rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million in November, the highest level since November 2009, when the annual pace spiked at 5.44 million, NAR reported.

"Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favorable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes."

Yun said healthy market demand and shortage of listings is driving up prices once again. “A diminishing share of foreclosed property sales is helping home values," he noted. "Moreover, an acute shortage of inventory in certain markets is leading to multiple biddings and escalating price conditions."

Total housing inventory at the end of November nationwide fell 3.8 percent to 2.03 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.8-month supply at the current sales pace. It was down from 5.3 months in October and is the lowest housing supply since September of 2005 when it was 4.6 months, NAR reported.

Listed inventory is 22.5 percent below a year ago when there was a 7.1-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is now at the lowest level since December 2001 when there were 1.89 million homes on the market, NAR said.

Compared with a year ago, home listings are down in every price category in each of the nation's 30 largest housing markets, according to a study by real estate website Zillow.

The tight inventory conditions won't last forever, of course. In an interview with USA Today, Zillow economist Stan Humphries said tight inventories will push up prices, encouraging more people to list homes.

So where does this all leave you? If you've been putting off selling your home, you may want to seriously consider getting back into the market right now. As the new year gets under way, the pendulum has swung back into a seller's market. But there's no guarantee how long that will last.

Buyers are out there looking, prices are climbing once again and there just aren't enough good home listings to go around. With such strong buyer demand and a shortage of listings, this may be the best time to sell your home. I'm ready to help you get started today!

Sunday, February 3, 2013
Real Estate Provisions in Fiscal Cliff
While the country was able to avoid the fiscal cliff on January 1, H.R. 8 legislation was signed into law by the President on January 2nd. There are several provisions in this bill that impact real estate and a summary of those has been provided by the National Association of Realtors:

Capital Gains
Capital Gains rate stays at 15% for those in the top rate of $400,000 (individual) and $450,000 (joint) return. After that, any gains above those amounts will be taxed at 20%. The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for sale of principal residence remains in place.

Estate Tax
The first $5 million dollars in individual estates and $10 million for family estates are now exempted from the estate tax. After that, the rate will be 40% up from 35%. The exemption amounts are indexed for inflation.

For additional information, Forbes has a brief review of Pease Limitations which includes an example of how it may affect high income earners. The IRS website is a comprehensive resource 24/7 for tax law information and filing details.

Saturday, January 12, 2013
Shadow Inventory Decline Continues, Currently at 7.2 Month Supply – The residential shadow inventory of distressed homes continues to shrink according CoreLogic’s monthly report for October. The improvement is across all metrics; number of units, months supply, dollar volume and transition rates. Read more about these declines year over year in last week’s Mortgage News Daily.

Denver home prices up 6.9% – Case-Shiller released its home price index for October 2012 last week. The home price index for the Denver area rose 0.01 percent from September to October, and rose 6.9 percent, year over year (Oct 2011 to Oct 2012). Read more details in the Colorado Division of Housing review.

Good news about real estate: Home equity is growing again – With all the nail biting over fiscal policy and the economy, you might have missed some of the positive trends under way for real estate – starting with home equity. It’s growing again significantly after 5 years of declines and stagnation. After hitting a low of $6.45 trillion in the final 3 months of 2011, Americans’ combined home equity jumped nearly $1.3 trillion during the next 9 months to $7.71 trillion (a 20% gain) according to the “flow of funds” quarterly estimate released in December by the Federal Reserve. Read more in the LA Times.

Sunday, November 18, 2012
A Look at Today's Market

As the real estate market continues to gain strength, it’s important to be in tune with current market trends and economic conditions across the U.S. and within Colorado. Here are some articles you may find interesting:

US home prices rise in August at faster pace — Home prices rose in nearly all US cities last month, the latest evidence of a steady recovery in housing according to a report by the Associated Press and 9News. National home prices increased 2% in August compared with the same month a year ago, it’s the third straight increase and at a faster pace than in July.

Mortgage Rates Settle in Near Record Lows — In Freddie Mac’s results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, fixed mortgage rates are mixed following the monthly employment report but continuing to hover near record lows over the past six weeks. Last year at this time, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.99%, and this year the average is at 3.40% for the week ending November 8th. Read more in RealtyTimes including 15-year and other ARM products.

New home sales at 5-year high, inventory flatlines — New single-family home sales rose 80% from September 2011 to September 2012 and new home sales have increased year over year for 8 months in a row. Looking at new home inventory, inventory is near a 10-year low – good news for owners seeking to sell homes with less competition in the market. The Colorado Division of Housing produced a thorough report (including graphs) for your review.

Friday, November 9, 2012
Fall Checklist to Keep Your Home and Family More Comfortable

Fall is here and high energy prices can take their toll on your wallet. It’s important to take steps to create a more energy-efficient home to keep your home warm and comfortable in the coming months.

Check Weather Stripping: The use of weather stripping is one of the most important, and easiest solutions for energy savings in your home. Gaps around doors and windows let cold air into your home even if they’re small. Check exterior doors and windows to see if the weather strip is doing its’ job, is clean and undamaged. If replacement is needed, local hardware or home improvement stores most likely carry what you need, or contact a handyman if you prefer.

Upgrade your Thermostat: If you have an older thermostat, consider replacing it with a new programmable one. Programmable thermostats are digital, typically very accurate and can help better maintain temperature levels in your home. They are easy to program for various times of day as well as days of the week to adjust to your active schedules.

Check and Seal Heating Ducts: Although crawling around a crawlspace or attic isn’t always fun, it’s the only way to examine and repair heating ducts. Look for gaps between ducts and fittings, and seal them with qualified metallic tape (not regular duct tape which doesn’t last). Also check to be sure ducts are off the ground and stable.

Change Furnace Filters: Before winter hits, it’s a good time to replace furnace filters - an easy and inexpensive task that can increase efficiency and comfort in your home.

Check Insulation Levels: Improving insulation levels can be a very effective way to increase your comfort and energy efficiency, so check the amount and condition of all visible insulation in the attic, under floors, in skylight shafts and near ductwork. If repairs or installation is necessary, tackle the DIY (do-it-yourself) project yourself or consider hiring a qualified contractor depending on the type and way installation is needed.

Check Smoke Detectors: When the time changes (November 3rd this year), it is perfect timing to check your smoke detectors. Install new batteries and test them to make sure they are operating properly. If you have an older home with few detectors, you may want to install additional ones outside each bedroom or make sure you have at least one on each floor of the home.

Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector: If you have gas utilities or appliances in your home, there is always a possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning with any malfunction. Protect your family and your home by installing one or more carbon monoxide detectors. They are inexpensive, easy to install, and available at most local hardware and home improvement stores.

Clean and Service Fireplaces and Woodstoves: Many homeowners prefer to hire a qualified repairman or chimney sweep to check functionality in fireplaces and woodstoves. You must make sure that gas, wood and pellet-burning fireplaces and stoves are clean and operating correctly. Qualified and licensed servicemen will check door gaskets, blower operation, flues, flue caps, thermostats and any other aspects of the appliances.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Asking rents up in Denver and Colo. Springs, but growth rates decline from August rates — Rents were up in Denver during September 2012 9.0% year over year, among the metros with the largest increases in asking rents. Colorado Springs was also included in the report and, according to Trulia, year-over-year rents were up 4.5% in September 2012.

Housing recovery blossoms — The housing industry shows more signs of strengthening. The Census Bureau said housing starts and permits rose substantially in August. Sales of previously occupied homes climbed 7.8% from a year ago according to NAR, and builders new home starts are up 29.1%. Read more in CNNMoney.

Home inventory down 28 percent in September — According to the Department of Numbers, home sales inventory in the Denver area fell again in September, dropping 28% to 14,300 homes. This is the 19th month in a row where inventory has fallen. The Colorado Division of Housing reported from the Department with data tracing back to 2006.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The real estate markets continue to gain strength, it’s important to have current and uplifting talking points on economic growth across the U.S. and within Colorado. We hope you find these articles valuable to discuss current market conditions.

The 10 States with the Strongest Housing Markets — Colorado ranks #5 in strong housing markets currently, and was recognized for minimal damage when the housing bubble broke. Our 1 year home price change came in with a 7.3% increase, the unemployment rate is at 8.3%, and median home price is at $240,000. Read more online at 24/7 WallSt.

Denver’s economic recovery being driven by housing market — 9NEWS
reported the sales of homes and condos in the Denver market continue to show strong growth. According to data by Metrolist, residential sales in August 2012 rose 18% over the same period in 2011. Sales prices also rose a full 10% higher than August 2011.

Saturday, August 31, 2012
Should You Buy or Rent?

Depends on How Long You Want to Stay and Where You Want to Live (Of Course) — Historically consumers have used price-to-rent ratios to make a decision of buying or renting. Zillow recently introduced a new approach called the &dlquo;breakeven horizon&drquo; which is the number of years after which buying is more financially advantageous than renting. See how our market compares nationally.

Home Prices Continue to Rise — S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of US home prices, showed that average home prices increased by 2.2% month over month. Read more in the report by RISMedia.

Corelogic: Colorado home prices up 6.2 percent — Corelogic's home price index for Colorado increased year over year for the fifth month in a row during June 2012, increasing to the highest growth rate seen since the beginning of the recession in 2008. This report can be viewed online through the Colorado Division of Housing.

Saturday, August 18, 2012
What will a million dollars buy you in the Denver Metro, Evergreen and Boulder areas?

The words million-dollar home used to evoke thoughts of grand estates in the country or oceanfront homes with breathtaking whitewater views or a glamorous penthouse in a downtown high-rise. In some cases, a million still may buy you that – somewhere, at least.

But of course, the three rules in real estate still are location, location and location. What you get for $1 million today in the Denver Metro Area varies a lot depending on where you’re looking to buy.

To see what buyers could get for their million dollars we decided to take a look at communities all along the Colorado Front Range, from Castle Rock to Denver to Longmont, and many locations in between. What we found made interesting and fun reading.

In Denver, for example, buyers could purchase a two-bedroom downtown luxury condo with approximately 2,100 square feet for $1 million.

If you want to trade city life for the suburbs, Broomfield listings included a four-bedroom, six-bath “build to suit” custom home for just under $1 million.

Million-dollar properties have become relatively commonplace in places like Cherry Hills Village, where the average home sale price so far this year is over $1.4 million and the median price was $1.2 million.

The reason for the disparity, of course, is that property values are considerably more affordable in communities like Broomfield, Bailey and Northglenn than they are in places like Cherry Hills Village, Greenwood Village and Boulder.

According to Metrolist, the multiple listing service in the Denver Metro Area, the median sale price for a Northglenn home in June was $160,000 compared to Cherry Hills Village ($1.2 million) and Greenwood Village, which boasts a median price of $640,000.

Put another way, you could buy more than seven median-priced properties in Northglenn – or a good-size residential block – for the cost of one median-priced home in Cherry Hills Village.

Cherry Hills Village and Greenwood Village don’t have a lock on valuable real estate. In fact, several communities in the Denver Metro Area are among the pricier communities – not just in Colorado, but in the western U.S.

Bow Mar’s average sale price this year comes in at $953,000, Sedalia’s average sale price year to date is $554,000, and Boulder’s average sale price in 2012 is over $527,000, according to MLS figures. In fact, the least expensive listing in Bow Mar in July was $799,000.

Elsewhere in the Denver Metro Area, here’s what $1 million will get you based on current active listings in July:
Cherry Hills Village – a four-bedroom, two-bath approximately 2,500-square-foot single-story ranch style home on a large, flat lot. The home is a rental property, so buyers can collect rent while planning for rebuild.
Castle Rock – a five-bedroom, four and a half bath approximately 5,600-square-foot luxury home. This extensively remodeled property includes a designer kitchen with distressed cherry cabinets, media room with large screen and expansive views of Pikes Peak.
Evergreen – a five-bedroom, three and a half bath 5,100 square foot mountain home on nearly 16 acres. Located in the gated community.
Longmont – A four-bedroom, three and a half bath home measuring approximately 4,900 square feet, this gated community property is located on a private lake minutes from I-25. Includes its own private beach and boathouse.
Golden – This five-bedroom, five-bath home for less than a million measures more than 6,700 square feet and sits on a two-acre mountain lot. The home includes a large gym and is located about 20 minutes from Coors Field.
Boulder – A three-bedroom, three-bath approximately 2,100 square foot townhouse, this brand new property is located in the heart of Boulder just steps from Pearl Street. It features 10-foot ceilings and exposed brick walls for loft-style living.
Thornton – There is one million-dollar home on the market in this city, a five-bedroom, six-bath luxury property measuring approximately 6,600 square feet. This lake-view property features a steam shower, theater room, dance studio, and two staircases.

While it’s uncertain exactly what $1 million will buy you today, one thing is clear: This may be a great time to take advantage of low mortgage rates and lower home prices to buy a home anywhere.

So if you’ve been putting off buying a home, there may not be a better time than now to jump into the market. Just give me a call today and we’ll work together to find the home of your dreams.

July 10
, 2012
Real Estate Industry Gaining Strength

Koelbel sells two-thirds of townhomes in 1 day – Buyers snapped up 12 of the 18 on the first day that Koelbel Urban Homes took reservations on its new development planned in the trendy Lower Highland (LoHi) area near downtown Denver. Units were priced from $385,000 according to Inside Real Estate News.

 – U.S. home sales up 20% from last year: DataQuick – During the 30-day sales period ending July 5, approximately 211,000 homes were sold in 98 of the top 100 metropolitan areas as reported by DataQuick and HousingWire. Sales overall rose 12% from the same period a year earlier.

 – CoreLogic: Home prices rise for third consecutive month – U.S. home prices year-over-year rose 2% in May while also increasing 1.8% from April. When excluding distressed home sales, prices actually shot up 2.7% over year-ago levels and 2.3% from April. Read more on the market in HousingWire.

– Multifamily permits up 159 percent in 2012 through May – Through May 2012 in Colorado this year, building permits issued for multifamily construction were up 159 percent, year over year, while permits issued for single-family construction were up 33 percent for the same period. Great news in new constructions as reported by the Colorado Division of Housing.

June 29
, 2012
Why it’s Smart to Work with the Market Leader when it Comes to Buying or Selling a Home
In real estate, as in many things in life, size and experience do matter. Buying or selling a home is often the single largest financial decision any of us will make in our lives. It’s an extremely complex and time consuming process, with lots of exciting opportunities but plenty of potential pitfalls as well. This is no time to take a chance by working with an amateur.

Especially in today’s challenging market, it pays to use the best real estate company in the field. Hiring the top real estate brokerage means you’re working with the most successful company in your local market, whose agents have a long and proud track record of efficiently and effectively marketing properties and helping consumers just like you find the home of their dreams.

And in Colorado, that undisputed real estate market leader is Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. The Denver Business Journal and RISMedia recently ranked Coldwell Banker number one among all residential real estate companies along the Front Range for the 14th consecutive year.

Not only was Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ranked the top brokerage again, but perhaps even more impressive, the company increased its total sales volume and total number of transactions in 2011 over the previous year, a notable accomplishment by nearly any measure when considering the challenging real estate market and overall economy.

The company completed more than $2.3 billion in sales and represented more than 8,200 buyers and sellers last year. And through its internationally renowned Coldwell Banker Previews® program, the company is widely recognized for its expertise in the luxury housing market. This kind of professional success doesn’t just happen. It’s earned by the hard work of the most experienced and savvy Realtors in the business who work for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Their proven track record is just one reason why buyers and sellers, year after year, come back to Coldwell Banker for all their real estate needs.

Because Coldwell Banker’s sales professionals have handled so many transactions, they truly understand the ins and outs of the local real estate market. Our Realtors not only know the homes and specific neighborhoods in our communities, they often know the sellers and potential buyers, the local schools, community parks, commute times and even some of the best restaurants for great pasta!

Working with the industry leader also means having the networking advantages that small brokerages can’t touch.

The real estate business has changed so much over the years. While the buyer of your home may still come from across town, there’s also a decent chance that he or she may come from across the country – or even across the Pacific or Atlantic. Having the local, national and international reach of Coldwell Banker expands your marketing potential in an increasingly global economy.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has nearly 1,000 sales professionals working in 15 offices from Pueblo to Fort Collins and everywhere in between. And through the Coldwell Banker organization, local agents are connected to 85,000 Realtors in 3,100 offices across the country and around the world.

June 8, 2012
Rent growth in Denver and Colorado Springs among top ten in nation
– Asking prices for homes were up 6.3% in the Denver area year-over-year in April, listing Denver among the top ten metros for price increases. Meanwhile, both Colorado Springs and Denver were listed in the top ten metros with the largest rent increases according to Trulia.

May 12, 2012
Denver’s luxury housing market sees strong March
The number of luxury homes sold in the metro Denver market in March increased dramatically in both February and March according to Metrolist reports. The Denver Business Journal notes that 49 homes over $1 million sold in March, up 63% from February and 48% year-over-year indicating that “this will be a good year.”

May 3, 2012
Shortage of Homes for Sale in Denver Metro Area Creating a Great Opportunity for Sellers
After several years of an oversupply of homes on the market and an undersupply of qualified buyers, the tables have turned for the Colorado housing market. It may be hard for some consumers to believe, but the local housing markets across the Front Range, including central Denver and the Northern and Southern Colorado markets, have bounced back in a big way. Eager buyers are once again out in force ready to purchase their next home. But ironically, the only thing stopping them is
a serious shortage of homes for sale!

We’ve come a long way from the recessionary days when homes sat on the market for many months, or even a year or longer,waiting for a buyer. Today, properties are once again being snapped up quickly, often with multiple offers due to the shortage of inventory. While this imbalance is frustrating some would-be buyers, it is also creating a great opportunity for savvy homeowners who have gotten the message that now may be the best time in many years to sell their home.

In the Denver Metro Area, inventory levels are down more than 44 percent from a year ago. This comes as the economy gains momentum, the job and financial markets improve, and Colorado receives increased national media attention as a top place to live – all providing more ready cash and incentives for buyers to purchase. The result is that there are more offers for good homes for sale. Sellers are getting higher prices and properties are moving faster than they have in years.

May 1, 2012
Colorado Conveyance of Real Property, 2% Withholding
Out-of-state seller, with some exceptions, all sales of Colorado Real Property over $100,000.00 by non-residents are subject to a 2% withholding tax. This regulation dates back to January 1993 in anticipation that Colorado income tax may be due on a gain from the sale. Although this has been around for many years, it is often overlooked as a consideration when listing and selling a property and can impact the net proceeds at the time of closing.

Individuals, estates, or trusts are subject to withholding if either federal form 1099-S must be filed with the IRS reporting the sale OR if sale proceeds are disbursed to a seller with an out-of-state address. Corporate transfers will be subject to the withholding if there is no permanent place of business for the entity in Colorado, and that is confirmed if they are a Colorado domestic corporation; they are qualified by law to transact business in Colorado; or if they maintain a permanent office in the state.

Withholdings are made by the title company or closing agent. Attorneys, banks, savings & loans, corporations, partnerships, or other entities providing closing and settlement services also shall withhold the tax if applicable to the transaction. The amount withheld shall be the lesser of 2% of the sales price OR the net proceeds that would otherwise be disbursed to the seller upon closing.

April 25, 2012
The risk of overpricing could lead to forfeiting peak selling opportunities

• “We’ve seen the statistics. Now let’s look at what happens in the mind of a
consumer when a home is overpriced.”

• “Overpricing your home will attract fewer potential buyers and may cause it to sit on the market longer than desired. To the buyer, too much time on the market indicates an overpriced property and often is perceived as an opportunity to negotiate a price lower than the market might typically bear.”

• “Pricing your property outside of the reasonable range can also cause low level of broker activity, reduction in exposure, difficulty in obtaining financing for prospective buyers and an increased amount of time on the market.”

• “This is why it is imperative that we remain competitive in our pricing strategy.”

Evaluating the Competition
•“It is very important that you realize that price can only be determined by thoroughly and aggressively testing the market – challenging the competition for the attention of the right buyer who is ready, willing and able to make a decision now.”

• “The highest price you can hope to realize is the best price obtainable from the best buyer available in the present market. Therefore the list price needs to attract and generate activity.

Pricing Strategies
• “Pricing your home is a complex task. If the listing price is set outside of the proper parameters, potential buyers may be deterred from considering your home.”

• “The closer your home is priced to fair market value when it first comes on the market, the more likely it will sell quickly, at the highest price.”

• “I know from experience, the higher your home is priced above market value, the fewer number of available buyers.”

• “The stronger our pricing position is to start with, the better our negotiations will end up. It is common for a seller to want to leave room to negotiate. There is also a common notion that if you price a home high, you can always come down. In practice, however, just the opposite is actually our best strategy.”

Market Value Strategies
• “Statistics have shown that a home has a 95% chance of selling if it is priced at market value.”

• “In contrast, the home has just a 50% chance of selling if the home is priced at just 5% over market value. The statistics worsen as the home price continues to rise over market value.”

April 20, 2012
10 Going Green Tips To Live By . .

1.  Save energy and reduce your carbon footprint – use public transportation, carpool, walk or bike whenever possible to reduce air pollution and save on fuel costs.

2.  When driving, follow these simple fuel saving tips: Avoid being in a rush to avoid harsh
acceleration or braking, get rid of unnecessary weight of items in your car or trunk, switch
engine off if idling for more than 2 minutes and keep tires inflated properly.

3.  Run the water less – use water efficiently by running your dishwasher only when full; do not pre-rinse and you will save as much as 20 gallons of water per load. Save even more water, and money on your water bill, by installing a water-efficient showerhead.

4.  Take your old computer or other electronics to an electronics recycling center; eCycling also helps avoid land, air and water pollution by capturing and reusing hazardous substances such as lead or chromium.

5.  Use non-toxic cleaning products – switch to household cleaners made with ingredients that originate from plants, not petroleum.

6.  Change light bulbs to more energy efficient, cost-saving bulbs and install motion sensors to turn lights on/off.

7.  Turn off electronic equipment and appliances when not in use. Suggestion: Plug into power strips when applicable to easily turn them off by simply flipping the switch.

8. Help protect the environment when you shop – take a reusable bag to the store. Monitor the amount of perishable food you purchase to avoid spoilage and waste.

9.  Recycle everyday products - Abide by your local city or county’s recycling program by utilizing the proper colored collection bins for your waste and different recyclables.

10.  Vow to make every day Earth Day!

April 3, 2012
Spring Home Maintenance Tips

As we arise from winter, here are a few maintenance tips to prepare your home for the change in seasons. Enjoy the beautiful weather after you check these off your to-do list.
• Check the gutters to make sure they're not loose or leaking. Downspouts should be clean from debris to properly drain water away from the foundation.

• Look for any soil damage around the foundation. Spring rains can cause flooding, so fill any low areas with compacted soil.

• Firewood should be stored safely away from buildings. Inspectors typically recommend 18-24 inches off the ground and a minimum of 2 feet from the structure.

• Check the roof for damage to shingles that may require repair or replacement. Flashing around vents, skylights or other structures may be needed as well.

• Inspect concrete slabs for cracks and make sure water drains away from the foundation. Fill cracks with a concrete filler, power-wash after completely set, and apply a concrete sealer. Replace slabs if necessary.

• Test outside faucets and hoses for freeze damage. Turn the faucet on and place your thumb over the opening. If water stops flowing, a pipe inside the home is most likely damaged. Check garden hoses for dry rot and leaks.

• Inspect siding and trim for chips or leaking and repair or replace as needed. Leaving these areas open to water damage can cause bigger problems later if ignored.

• Air Conditioning units should be checked by an HVAC professional to insure proper functionality. Tune-ups can help improve operating efficiencies with clean filters, hoses, and other components.

• Seal the deck and check for loose or rusting nails, splinters or rotting wood. It is recommended that wood decks are resealed annually. Also make sure railings or stairs are stable and secure.

• Replace window screens that have holes, and make sure screens are secure on doors and window frames.

• Weatherproof windows and doors. Spring is the perfect time to apply caulk or other products to keep homes cool in the spring and warm in the winter.

• Prune shrubs and trees to ensure proper drainage and add curb appeal to your property.

• Clean and tune-up lawn and garden equipment to be sure they are ready for summer use. Sharpen cutting blades to make yard work easier.

For other maintenance tips or home improvement ideas, go to www.hgtv.com .

If you enjoy gardening outdoors, here are a couple good resources for Colorado climates. Denver Botanic Gardens is beautiful place to visit, while they also provide expert advice on gardening. Colorado State University provides a wealth of information about our State's climate, soils and more that may help you determine what's best in your area, particularly helpful for those new to Colorado.

March 29, 2012
Selling your home in today's market and what Sellers need to do to get top dollar for their property.
 As Colorado’s housing market continues to bounce back from the recession, more and more buyers have decided they can’t wait any longer – now is the time to get back into the market to find their next home.
While the real estate market still has its challenges, things are very different today than they were in 2009, 2010 and even early last year. Buyers are generally more optimistic about the future, ready to purchase, much better qualified for a loan and, in many cases, are paying big down payments or even all cash for their next home. Indeed, the scales of supply and demand are once again moving back in the direction of home sellers after being out of balance for several years. While countless buyers are out there pounding the pavement for a home, the problem now is that there just aren’t enough sellers to meet the demand in many communities. As the economy continues to improve and with a shortage of attractive properties in good neighborhoods, buyers are once again paying good prices for properties rather than simply looking for distressed homes at bargain basement prices. And in some cases, properties are even getting multiple offers, driving up the sale price above the asking price.
So if you’ve been thinking about selling your home, now may be an ideal time to do so while buyers are eager, interest rates are still low and there isn’t as much competition from other sellers as there usually is this time of year. Here are several suggestions on how to get started and the best way to get top dollar for your home in today’s market.

Pick the best agent for the job. Selling a home is never easy, but in today’s complex real estate market it’s particularly challenging. So it’s more important than ever to find an experienced professional Realtor to help you get the job done. This is no time for amateurs. Start by interviewing several agents to see who has a proven track record of successfully marketing properties in your area. Ask them about their marketing plan, including print media, social media and online marketing via major real estate websites. Find out how well networked they and their brokerage are to other agents with potential buyers. Do they have offices beyond your city limits and even outside the state? Today’s buyers are just as likely to be relocating from across the country as they are from across town.

Go online and be visual. Remember the days of sticking a sign in the front lawn and taking out an ad in the local paper? Those days are long gone. Nearly 90 percent of buyers start their search for a home online, according to the National Association of Realtors. So you must be there in a big way to compete for the attention of buyers. Work with your agent to put up lots of high-resolution photos and as much information as possible. Make sure to show photos of all the major areas of your home and yard to give buyers as much of a sense of being there as possible. If not, buyers may wonder what you’re hiding. And strongly consider using video and virtual tours. Such marketing tools are no longer just for luxury homes.

Price your home competitively for today’s market. Just because a house comparable to yours sold for a certain price before the recession doesn’t mean you will be able to get the same price today. A lot has changed since then. And while prices are firming up, it’s still important to realize the new realities of today’s market. Talk with your Realtor to determine the appropriate, competitive listing price for your home based on current market conditions. You may even choose to have an appraisal done in advance of setting the price. Remember that in this market, homes that are priced aggressively attract the most buyers and – in some cases – multiple offers that push
your final sale price even higher.

De-clutter and de-personalize. De-personalizing and de-cluttering a home before putting it on the market can help make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living there – a crucial step in the selling process. Take down family portraits, personal collections and knickknacks. Homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not yours. Removing these items will also eliminate clutter and ensure that people are looking at the house itself, not at the photos from your last family vacation.

Update, freshen up. Keeping in mind that some buyers take move-in condition to be important, put your home in its best light. Possibilities include replacing outdated kitchen and bathroom fixtures, applying a fresh coat of paint and/or refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Replace worn carpet or fix broken tiles. Many cosmetic touches are surprisingly affordable but may yield much higher sale prices. The less work buyers have to do when they move in, the faster they may be willing to make an offer.

Conduct a full home inspection. If a professional home inspector determines that there are negative issues with the home, consider repairing the problems before buyers show up at your door. Potential buyers will cast an extremely critical eye over your home if it needs too many repairs – especially if they are trying to decide between your home and another one without problems. Be sure to have the home inspection report available for prospective buyers along with an itemizing all of the repairs that have been made and the associated cost for each to demonstrate the investment you’ve made in your home.

Make your home and yard picture perfect. As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. When a buyer sees your house for the first time, a positive impression can make or break the sale. You can maximize curb appeal by trimming trees, planting flowers and even rolling out a new lawn if needed. A fresh exterior coat of paint might also prove valuable. And consider having a professional “stage” your home to make it even more attractive for buyers by rearranging what you have and/or bringing in other furnishings and accessories.

Be patient and flexible. You’ve done all the right things to put your home in the best position to sell. But there will undoubtedly be bumps along the way. A buyer may have difficultly securing financing. The appraisal may come in lower than expected. The escrow period could drag on longer than you thought before the deal closes. It’s not unusual to have occasional issues pop up. After all, buying a home is the single biggest financial transaction most of us will ever make in our lives. Through it all, remember that your Realtor is there by your side. He or she will be there with you every step along the way, managing the tough issues so you don’t have to and helping you achieve all of your home selling goals in today’s market.

February 25, 2012
Economy and Job Market Gaining Momentum in New Year: Could Nation’s Housing Market be Next?

With 2012 well underway, there are very encouraging signs that the nation’s economy and job market are finally starting to gain momentum. If this trend continues in the months ahead, it bodes well for the recovery in housing — both here in the Denver Metro Area and around the country.  The U.S. economy grew at a 2.8 percent annual rate in the final quarter of last year, according to figures released by the federal government this month. This level was a sharp increase from the third quarter’s 1.8 percent rate. And there are indications that the latest GDP figure could actually be revised higher due to wholesale inventories rising in December. Even more encouraging for real estate is the fact that the labor market is steadily improving. Most analysts agree that in order to have a self-sustaining recovery in the housing market we must first have a significant turnaround in the job market. There are indications that could be happening at long last. Initial weekly unemployment claims fell 15,000 to 358,000 in a new report by the Labor Department. An even better trend gauge — the four-week average — fell to its lowest level since April 2008, the period before the financial crisis. And the unemployment rate has fallen to a three-year low of 8.3 percent.  One other bullish indicator for the housing market is solid gains in the stock market, especially in the housing sector. The S&P index is up more than 7 percent so far this year (as of February 10) and up more than 16 percent since late November. No one can predict, of course, where stocks go from here and it’s not unreasonable to assume they could continue to bounce around given the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. But the stock market gains certainly are helping all of our 401k portfolios an perhaps bolstering the confidence of potential homebuyer.

For most of the country, the inventory of homes for sale actually is falling while sales volumes have been picking up since last year. And affordability levels for homeownership have never been better, thanks to historically low interest rates and attractive home pricing. We’ve seen the improvement right here in the Denver Metro Area. According to our most recent figures, closed sales in January reached 2,470, up 14.6 percent from a year ago. And new sales – a more current barometer of the market — jumped 10.8 percent from a year ago to 3,486. At the same time, the number of homes for sale continues to dwindle. There were 10,443 unsold homes on the market in January, down a whopping 41.6 percent from last year. We continue to see growing demand by very serious buyers looking to purchase homes. And while some are scouring the landscape for bargain basement distressed properties, many are seeking good homes at fair prices. And there continues to be a very strong demand for properties in the middle and upper ends of the market, too.The real problem we’re facing here in the Denver Metro Area isn’t a lack of buyers; it’s not enough sellers. Many homeowners who would like to sell their homes have been sitting on the sidelines, still wrongly believing that the market is in the depths of a recession. They still fear that they will have to take drastic price cuts in order to sell. I’m afraid that the news hasn’t gotten out to them that things have changed for the better over the past year or two.

Sellers no longer must sell their properties at fire-sale prices to get buyers’ attention. In fact, fairly priced homes that are staged well and located in desirable neighborhoods are not only being sold relatively quickly these days, but in some cases with multiple offers. So if you’ve been thinking about buying or selling a home, there may not be a better time than right now. For buyers, mortgage interest rates are still below 4 percent for many 30-year fixed rate loans and pricing is attractive in many neighborhoods. For sellers, there are scores of well-qualified buyers ready to purchase your home at reasonable prices. No one knows what the future holds, but as the economy and the job market continue to gain momentum, there’s every reason to believe that the housing market will follow suit as well. A professional Realtor can help you decide if now is the right time for you to market your property or to find the next home of your dreams.

February 13, 2012
Keys to Smart Home Buying
Buying a home is one of life’s most important investments and exciting adventures, but even
experienced buyers can find this complex process a bit overwhelming. As your Coldwell Banker
Sales Associate, I will guide you every step of the way.
the search begins
Establishing Your Purchasing Power
Know What Your Down Payment Will Be
Turning You Into a Cash Buyer
finding the right home
Home Preferences
Home Preferences Worksheet
Understanding the Asking Price
Getting Your Loan Pre-approval Process Underway
financing your new home
Navigating the Financing Process
Negotiating the Offer and Contract
Understanding the Title Search Process
Preparing for the Closing Costs
Understanding Real Estate Terminology

December 27, 2011

A housing economist recently noted that all the real estate market really needs to right itself is six straight months with no surprises. All the ingredients for a turnaround are there – record low interest
rates, outstanding affordability, and very attractive home prices. But economic and political headwinds at home and abroad kept the market from really gaining much momentum this year.

To be sure, 2011 was anything but predictable. On top of the tepid economic recovery here in the U.S., there was one crisis after another around the world – the Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami, the “Arab Spring” uprising, a spike in oil prices, political standoffs on Capital Hill, the debt limit ceiling and downgrade of U.S. debt, and most recently the sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone and the subsequent stock market volatility here at home.

But there was reason for encouragement for our local housing market. Colorado’s real estate market did show some positive signs of rebounding this year despite skittish consumer confidence and the
sluggish economy.

Existing home sales in the Denver Metro Area in October – the most recent figures available – jumped 12 percent in October a year ago, according to Metrolist. Through the first 10 months of this year sales
were up fractionally compared to the same period in 2010.  The median sale price for a single-family home was $226,021 in October, down 1.8 percent from the same month last year, while the
median price for a condo rose 1.2 percent to $125,000, Metrolist reported.

Distressed home sales
One of the reasons for the increased number of sales but lower median prices overall is that entry-level homes and distressed properties continue to be the lion’s share of transactions in many
areas as bargain hunters rush to take advantage of attractive prices and low interest rates.

One trend we’ve noticed of late is a drop in the number of bank owned properties that are listed for sale and an increase in short sales.
The reason may be that government regulations and controversies over “robo-signing” have kept more foreclosures from coming on the market. As banks put the robo-signing debacle behind them, we may
see more REO properties released in 2012.

While the release of additional distressed properties could keep prices of all homes down in 2012, we suspect that strong demand by investors for these homes will probably keep prices from falling much
further. We’ve seen multiple offers for many bank-owned properties, sometimes all cash offers, as investors snap up what they believe to be great bargains.

At the other end of the spectrum, the luxury market has remained fairly stable through much of 2011 in the Denver Metro Area. While the number of million-dollar sales did drop sharply in October from
the same period last year, overall this year sales edged higher. Through the first 10 months of the year there were 460 transactions in excess of $1 million versus 455 a year ago, according to a report by Chicago Title Co.

Non-distressed mid-market
Homes that fell somewhere between distressed and luxury properties – the bulk of the market here in Colorado – probably were the most challenged in 2011. One big reason for the softness is that we didn’t see very many move-up buyers trading their entry-level homes for larger, more expensive properties as they have traditionally done in the past.

Equity homeowners stayed on the sidelines, perhaps due to a lack of confidence in the housing market and the economy in general. They may have been frightened away by doom and gloom news headlines about the housing market, or maybe fear over whether they might lose their job should the economy stumble again. This uncertainty and lack of confidence, I suspect, will continue to
some degree into 2012 until there is more positive improvement in the economy

November 15, 2011
Fortune Magazine and the Wall Street Journal: Time to get back into real estate

Read what two of the nation’s top business publications, Fortune magazine and The Wall Street Journal, are telling their readers:

“Forget stocks. Don't bet on gold. After four years of plunging home prices, the most attractive asset class in America is housing.”

“Real estate: It’s time to buy again,” Fortune Magazine article by Shawn Tully.

“Two key measures now suggest it's an excellent time to buy a house, either to live in for the long term or for investment income.”

“It’s Time to Buy that House,” The Wall Street Journal article by Jack Hough.

Tully in the Fortune piece interviewed Mike Castleman, founder and CEO of Metrostudy, who has spent more than 30 years tracking data on the inventory of new homes in the United States. Each quarter, inspectors go through 45,000 subdivisions from California to Maryland. According to Fortune, inspectors examine 5 million lots and record whether they contain a house under construction or completed.

What has Castleman observed? The glut of new homes that the U.S. had a few years ago at the peak of the market has rapidly disappeared. Instead, he told Tully that he has seen a rapidly declining inventory that could force prices higher. In the 41 cities Metrostudy looked at, there are just 78,000 houses vacant and for sale, or under construction – less than a quarter of the 343,000 units at the height of the market in 2006 and less than the total a decade ago.

"The talking heads who are down on real estate will hate to hear this, but America needs to build a lot more houses,” Fortune quoted Castleman as saying. “And in most markets the price of new homes is fixin' to rise, not fall."

Metrostudy collects figures on the number of homes that are vacant and for sale in each city, and the number of months it takes to sell all them to determine whether individual markets have a surplus or a shortage of homes. "If we had anything like normal levels of buying, those houses would sell in 2½ months," Castleman told Fortune. "We'd see an incredible shortage. And that's where we're heading."

Fortune says that consumers may be confused by conflicting news reports on the housing market, and that could be impacting their confidence in buying a home. On one hand, housing affordability has never been better. But on the other hand, they continue to see housing starts falling and home prices still heading down in some markets.

Tully said economists Robert Shiller and Karl Case, authors of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price indices, have different views about where we are in the cycle. While Shiller remains pessimistic, Case is more optimistic that things are starting to turn around, telling Fortune that "the lack of new home building is a huge help that a lot of people are ignoring.”

In its analysis of the housing market, Fortune noted that it’s important to look at the economic fundamentals of home ownership to see where the market is headed. As home prices rose sharply over the past decade, Tully said the magazine warned that a bubble was forming due to the level of new construction and the cost of owning a home compared to renting one.

“Eventually reality set in, and prices plummeted,” Tully said. “Our current view focuses on those same fundamentals — only now they're pointing in the opposite direction,” Fortune noted. “So let's state it simply and forcibly: Housing is back.”

The Fortune article said what will drive the recovery of the housing market is a sharp drop in new home construction, as noted in the Metrostudy research, as well as a big drop in home prices. Home prices have fallen about 30% nationwide since 2006, Fortune said, and more than 50 percent in hardest hit markets. With unusually high affordability levels, the article noted, Americans will start returning to the market.

While no one can predict with certainty the future of home prices and sales volume, it is safe to say that a turnaround will eventually happen. Timing the market is very difficult because you will never know the absolute bottom until prices have started going back up again. My advice is to look closely at your own “personal economy” and talk with a professional Realtor to see if now might be a good time for you to take advantage of low prices and rates, and join others in taking the plunge into buying a home.

November 8, 2011
A look at today's market

It's Time to Buy That House – The Wall Street Journal reported the two key measures for buying a home today: 1) ratio of house prices to yearly rents is restored to pre-bubble averages; 2) the lowest interest rates in decades make houses more affordable.

Oct. home sales climb vs Oct 2010 – Metrolist Inc. data reports that the number of homes sold last month jumped 12% compared to last year. Although median prices for single-family homes showed a 1.8% year-over-year decline, median condo prices increased 1.2%. The Denver Post report.

Metro Denver EDC releases annual competitiveness report – The annual benchmark summary was published by the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation reporting Colorado's strengths, challenges and opportunities for job growth. Strengths identified include:
• State GDP per employee ranks in the top 15 of all states
• Per capita personal income ranks 14th, and has been as high as 6th in the past decade
• Colorado ranks 6th best for economic outlook
• Colorado continues to post population growth, ranking fourth-fastest growing state in 2009 and 2010
• The state continues to rank first for highest ACT and SAT scores
• Colorado has the lowest rate of obesity, although growing childhood obesity rates are a concern
See the entire report on the Metro Denver website.

October 8
, 2011
Five ways the market is trying to tell you now may be the time to buy
Taking a look at the real estate market over the past several decades, a cycle is emerging. Usually there is a steady increase in prices, the prices then peak; that is then followed by a relatively sharp decline which the results in a flattening of the market. The last time the market hit a peak was in 2006. Since then, prices in many areas have declined with a surplus of homes for sale.

If we take a page from the history books, it is likely that the next step is for the market to hit bottom. At some point, the market will begin the steady climb we have seen so many times before; but the question is when will that happen? Is it happening now?

You may be surprised to know that some economists believe that the market actually gives us subtle signals as to what it may do and where it may be going. We just need to look a little more closely at the ways in which the market is communicating those trends.

The following five factors may indicate that the market may be approaching its final descent. For sellers, that could mean that your patience may soon pay off. For buyers – this may be your best time to buy.

Fewer new homes are being built – In a September 15, 2011 white paper for the global investment management firm, GMO, titled “Between Errors of Optimism and Pessimism – Observations on the Real Estate Cycle in the United States and China,” financial commentator and consultant Edward Chancellor said that “at the bottom of the cycle, new construction comes to a virtual standstill”, which, according to federal statistics is now happening.

When fewer existing homes are selling, most home developers slow down or cease building new homes. To achieve a balance between supply and demand takes time before the market can turn around – which seems to be happening. In its September 20th report on new residential construction, the U.S. Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development reported privately-owned housing starts hit a three month low in August and were down 5% from the month before, down 5.8% from August 2010, and more than 25% from September 2006 when new housing construction may have hit its peak. At the same time, The National Association of REALTORS reported existing home sales hit a five-month high in August and rose 7.7% from July 2011 and 18.6% from August 2010. That may be a sign of demand catching up with supply.

A growing demand for housing – It’s a simple fact of life – people need somewhere to live. Buyers may be wary of the process right now, but there is an entire section of the population who will undoubtedly consider buying in the near future. In an Inman News article released October 4, 2011 entitled “5 Signs a Real Estate Recovery is Near,” David Stevens, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, reminds us that Generation Y (people born between 1977 and 1994) is estimated to include approximately 80 million people, or 25 percent of the U.S. population and those consumers “are now entering their prime time for starting their careers, their families, and for buying a home.”

Keep in mind that the U.S. Census Bureau predicts the country’s population to reach 423 million by 2050. That’s an increase of 112 million people in just 40 years. Those people will need housing and there will be an inevitable demand for homes to purchase. It stands to reason that this population growth will lead to fewer homes available for sale and prices will rise.

Rents are rising – Because more people are choosing to rent instead of buy in the present market, the cost of renting is rising. An article in USA Today titled “Rising rents make housing less affordable,” Zillow economist Stan Humphries noted that rents are expected to rise about 4% this year and that increase will continue in 2012. He attributes the price increases to the strong demand created by homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure.

High rental prices can be a good thing for the health of the over-all real estate market. The closer the average cost of renting comes to the average cost of owning, the more attractive it is to buy. In his GMO paper, Chancellor said; “Whilst people remain cautious of homeownership, the first effect of rising demographic demand is felt in the rental markets as rents start to rise. In time, rising rents push up the prices of existing homes and spur new construction.”

Homes may be more affordable – Let’s face it, we’re seeing prices that we may never see again. The National Association of Realtors’ most recent Home Affordability Index finds the national median priced existing single-family home was $168,400 in August 2011, and the average interest rate was 4.69%. That’s compared to a median of $221,900 and a 6.58% average interest rate in 2006. Low housing prices are a key in sparking renewed interest in owning real estate and can be the launching pad for a recovery.

It can’t get much worse – Pessimism appears to be at an all-time high, and it seems just about the time experts believe things couldn’t get any worse – they start getting better.

In his GMO paper, Chancellor says “In the good times, a house is seen as a highly levered asset that only goes up. In the downturn, the same property is viewed as illiquid, expensive to maintain, and heavily taxed.” Maybe we should start thinking of bad news as good news – a sign that a turnaround may be right around the corner and that now may truly be the best time to buy.

So, as these signs point to the market approaching its trough, what does that mean for you? The prices you’re seeing now may be the lowest for many years to come. You may not want to make the mistake of waiting until we’re in another boom to make your move. If you’re thinking about buying or selling and would like to explore your options, please give me a call. I’d be happy to help.

October 2011



In Colorado, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage has sold more homes than any other real estate company for thirteen consecutive years as reported by the Denver Business Journal.* We're proud to represent all types of homes in all price ranges from Cottages to Castles throughout Colorado. The numbers simply speak for themselves.

Source: Denver Business Journal "The List" Sept 9-15, 2011. April 2011 RISMedia's Real Estate "The 2011 Power Broker Report"
*Denver Business Journal "Book of Lists" Denver-Area Residential Real Estate Brokerages, 1997 - 2010


Across America, Coldwell Banker Previews International® is among the leaders in the luxury home market. Coldwell Banker Previews International® property specialists participated in nearly 13,547 transaction sides of homes priced at $1 million or more in 2010 with a total sales volume of $25 billion.

Source: * Data based on closed and recorded transaction sides of homes sold for $1 million or more as reported by the U.S. Coldwell Banker® franchise system for the calendar year 2010. $USD.


In Colorado, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sold 383 homes priced at $500,000 and up in 2010. On average, in 2010, we put thirty-four new homes on the market priced at $500,000 and up every week. Of those, at least seven were priced at one million dollars or more.* No one sells more luxury homes in Colorado than Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage.

*Source: Price: $500k - $1 million and $1 million+ Prop Types: SFH Condo, TwnHm. Areas: Adams,Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer Counties, 1/1/10 - 12/31/10


Across America, in a recent survey of Wall Street Journal subscribers, Coldwell Banker Real Estate® ranked #1 among all measured Realtors as the company they would consider using for future real estate transactions.

Source: The Wall Street Journal marketing dept. /Beta Research Corp. For more details on the Wall Street Journal's 2009 Residential Real Estate Study, please contact Deborah Falcone, 212-397-5790.


In Colorado, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is proudly the only real estate company to produce and broadcast our own Real Estate TV Show that airs Saturday mornings at 7:00am following 9News on MY20. It's called The Colorado Homes Real Estate Show. When it's time to put your home on the market, be sure it receives maximum exposure on TV, on YouTube, Online and in thousands of emails that go out every month. Ask for details.

It's no surprise the Coldwell Banker® brand has been a real estate industry champion and pioneer since it was founded on August 27, 1906. Today, we take great pride in our rich heritage, world-class marketing and remarkable resources. They are truly unmatched in the industry, both locally here in Colorado and across America. It's why we continue to lead the way to meet the needs of today's changing markets and consumer needs. We look forward to working with you soon.

Whether you're buying or selling a home, please call, text or email for all of your real estate needs.

In Tune with the Times
A look at today's market – September 2011

In a time where real estate looks very different than it has in history, it's important to have current and uplifting talking points on market conditions and activity across the U.S. and within Colorado. To assist you with unique conversations you may have with others, we hope you find these articles valuable to open the lines of communication.

Geithner: 'Substantial' Impact From Jobs Plan – After the President's address Thursday, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the $447 billion jobs plan would provide a "substantial" boost to the U.S. economy in an interview with Bloomberg Television. There is optimism for a moderate pace of growth coming out of this crisis. Read more in Bloomberg.

August housing market sizzles – The term red-hot isn't often used to describe our housing market today, but the Denver Post reported that year-over-year the Denver market sizzled. Closings in the Denver area market increased 29% in August 2011 over the same month last year.
Read more in the Denver Post.

Single-family home outlook improves in Denver – Sales are up while foreclosure rate and inventory are down on single-family homes in the metro Denver market as reported in the Denver Business Journal September 8th based on three recent studies.

Mortgage rates break records again – Freddie Mac reports that mortgage rates set new record lows this week averaging 4.12% (with 0.7 points) as investors see relative safety of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities that fund most home loans. Read more in Inman News.

Kaiser to add 140 jobs at new call center – A new call center is being developed in the Lowry neighborhood of Denver, a sign of the company's growth and aide to the local job market. Read more in the Denver Post.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
A look at today's market – August 2011
In a time where real estate looks very different than it has in history, it's important to have current and uplifting talking points on market conditions and activity across the U.S. and here in Colorado.

Fed to keep interest rates low until 2013 – With recent discussion of the economy, the Federal Reserve announced that they intend to keep cash cheap and easy for at least two years, making a positive impact on the housing industry. Read more

Mortgage applications jump 21.7% on refinancing activity – With market volatility and the lowest interest rates in history, mortgage applications are on the rise. Refinance applications for jumbo loans increased by nearly 75% over the previous week. See the article in HousingWire

Denver residential real estate sales top $1B in July – For the second month, sales topped $1 billion last month. 3,835 units, including both single family homes and condominiums, sold for an average price of $270,066. Read more in the Denver Business Journal this week.

Friday, July 29, 2011
Higher temporary limits on super-conforming mortgages expire soon. Don’t miss out!
The deadline for securing Freddie Mac or FHA super-conforming mortgages at the temporary maximum loan limits set out in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 is rapidly approaching. That means as a buyer or seller, you may want to recognize this as a moment of opportunity and act accordingly.

After September 30, 2011, the maximum super conforming mortgage for a 1-unit single-family property (115% of the average county sales price up to of $729,750) will return to its pre-Act maximum (115% of the average county sales price up to $625,500).

Some mortgages that have been qualifying as super-conforming under the temporary limits will once again become “jumbo” mortgages, making it more difficult for high-end buyers to secure financing at attractive rates. Sellers too should be motivated to make deals before the drop in super-conforming limits reduces the pool of buyers who can arrange financing at their desired asking price.

While the stated deadline for these mortgages is September 30th, the reality is that most real estate purchase contracts may have to be entered into up to 60 days in advance of that deadline to allow sufficient time for escrow to close. Therefore, it is essential that if you are considering buying or selling that you contact me as soon as possible so we may strategize your best options.

Thursday, July 14, 2011
Do you feel now is a good time to buy?

For those who have good credit, a secure job and financial viability, there is no denying that today is the smartest time in my 36 years in real estate to purchase a home. It’s all about I.I.I.P. Inventory, interest rates, incentives and price. In most markets around the nation, home inventory has increased giving buyers a greater choice. At the same time, mortgage rates remain at near historic lows and home prices have seemingly stabilized. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. Prices dropped about 2% in 2007, 9.3% in 2008 and 12.4% in 2009 according to the National Association of Realtors, the first time in history we saw price declines. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever.

Still, not everyone should buy a home. Those who are not financially secure or fear job loss, along with those who envision moving within a few years likely should not buy today. Also those who have a lower monthly payment via renting and enjoy having that discretionary income for a variety of reasons like traveling and entertainment should not buy today. But obviously there is a tradeoff and they may not benefit from long-term positive impacts of homeownership.

Are you concerned that first-time homebuyers are no longer in the market since they have propped up housing for back-to-back tax credits?

Absolutely not. There is plenty of pent up demand and there is interest in homeownership. There are currently more than 16 million renters in the U.S. according to NAR, up from more than 11 million in the early 2000s.

Also, household creation is lower meaning that many have put off homeownership.

In fact the 2009 & 2010 federal tax credits did their job and brought first-time homebuyers back into the market. First-time homebuyers in May accounted for 35 percent of all homes purchased. This group bought 46 percent of the homes a year ago at this time during the height of the federal tax credt.

The message has gotten through that now is a smart time to buy because of I.I.I.P. – interest rates are at historical lows, inventory levels are generally high, tax incentives have value and prices decreases seemed to have leveled off in many markets.

But there is still that obvious challenge of consumer confidence and personal financial viability. People need to have jobs and the confidence that they will maintain those jobs.

Do you think people still value the benefits of homeownership?

Homeownership is in our DNA; People don’t say, “When I grow up I want to rent…” We have to understand that home ownership is emotional. While it is an investment, it is an investment in our lifestyle.

Homeownership will also likely return to an investment in our lifestyle. The mid-2000s saw a shift in how we viewed our homes. While my parents never uttered the phrase “home appreciation,” that changed with the housing boom. We became fascinated with the paper gains our homes had made. Today, those who do not have to move are equally disappointed with the paper loss our homes may have taken since then. So while a home is an investment in our lifestyle, I’m not naïve enough to believe that we will ever forget that it does have financial implications. But we will not expect our homes to become winning lottery tickets and serve as “piggy banks.”

How does the current economic downturn affect the real estate market?

There remains a consumer confidence challenge impacting housing. Job loss – and fear of job loss – is keeping people from engaging in the process even as mortgage rates remain at near historic levels.

Today, the large number of homes available for sale provides home buyers with a wide range of choices. Interest rates remain low. Affordability has improved in many markets and is at historically strong levels. This is the smartest time to buy a home in my 36 years in real estate. While many might understand that, they are being influenced by the economic downturn and their decisions reflect this concern.

It’s clear that the housing market will play a role in our economic recovery and the good news is that price declines seem to have stabilized nationally. Yet we still have some challenges including a relatively high amount of homes on the market.

What real estate indicators are you following on a national level?

The key indicator in market conditions is always inventory. I would like to see us march back towards the six-month levels which normally indicate a balanced market between buyer and seller. Today we are at 9.3 months nationally according to NAR, up from a 9.2 month supply last month. This seems natural as more homes come on the market for the Spring market. Total inventory is 3.72 million homes, down more than 20 percent from record levels of 4.58 million in July 2008.

March saw the median home decrease in price to $166,500, down 4.6 percent from a year ago. While we have been seeing more stability each month +/- a percentage point or two, this month was impacted by an increase in distressed home sales. We must remember that last year at this time we were in the midst of the Federal homebuyer credit.

It is critical to remember that median price is heavily impacted by 31 percent of all May sales being of distressed homes and these types of homes usually sell for about 20% less than traditional homes.

Investors have returned to the real estate market as evidenced by the large amount of distressed properties being sold and the fact that 30 percent of all sales are cash deals, up from 25 percent a year ago. Investors accounted for 19 percent of all May sales.

NAR, in its first quarter report, showed that 34 of their 153 surveyed markets showed an increase in median price from a year ago.

For all of 2009, the median price was $173,200, down 11.9 percent from 2008. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever.

When will the real estate market turn?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but we have some positives. The first is that the market downturn has brought home affordability levels to the best in many, many years – at least to levels not seen since 1973 and maybe ever. The unsustainable increases we had in 1995-2005 have leveled off. Sellers have become much more reasonable in setting prices and as consumers begin to gain more confidence that prices have leveled off they will return to the market.

Real estate is positioned well for the future.

Baby boomers are in their prime real estate buying years and are 78 million strong.
The Pew Research Center reports minority homeownership levels still have room for improvement. The gaps between white and minority households remain significant with homeownership rates for Asians (59.1 percent), African-Americans (47.5 percent) and Latinos (48.9 percent) well below the 74.9 percent among whites.
Immigrants are moving to the U.S. by the tune of 1.1-1.5 million a year depending on the source. These are legal immigrants who add value to our country and society. They need housing.
Echo boomers will likely have similar economic impact in coming years that their baby boomers parents have had through their lives. Echo boomers are born between 1977 and 1994 and are 73 million strong and according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, 4 million turn 21 each year.
Household formation is also an important statistic. The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University projects at least 1.25 million households will be created annually from 2010-2020 and will be led by the echo boomers.
Between 2010 and 2020, the Census Bureau projects U.S. household growth to be in the range of 1.25 to 1.5 million per year, which will create an additional demand for housing. This should equate to a demand for 12.5 -15 million total new households during this decade.
People move for lifestyle. There have been 4 million marriages and a record more than 8 million babies born in the last two years indicating there is demand for housing. Many of these growing families have not bought a home and are either renting or living with family as they save for a down payment. We know there is pent up demand.
Why is now a smart time to buy?

I.I.I.P. Inventory, interest rates, incentives and price. In most markets around the nation, home inventory has increased giving buyers a greater choice. At the same time, mortgage rates remain at near historic lows and home prices have seemingly stabilized. 2010 saw median prices increase slightly by 0.2% to $172,900. This has made home affordability the best since at least 1973 and maybe ever. Prices dropped about 2% in 2007, 9.3% in 2008 and 12.4% in 2009 according to the National Association of Realtors. These were the first price declines in history.

We must remember that Americans move for lifestyle. They moved yesterday, are moving today and will move in the future. What has confused the real estate consumer is the ancillary activity surrounding the real estate market like the subprime mortgage issues impact on Wall Street, and stock prices of home builders. For the most part, these stories do not impact the everyday consumer although it will take some time to the subprime lending fallout to calm.

Remember most people will not sell their home for a loss unless there is catastrophic illness, injuries, loss of a loved one, sustained job loss or other major economic challenge. Yet because those who purchased in the last seven years may not have made money on their home, they are understandably hesitant to sell for a loss and move up even though lifestyle changes might dictate the time is right.

I hope this interview gives you a good sense of the current state of the housing market. If you would like more details or would like to better understand if now is a good time for you to personally buy or sell a home, please contact me today.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Despite Choppy Economy, Wall Street Journal
Makes the Case for Buying a Home Now

Reading business headlines these days is not for the faint of heart. I’m beginning to think that my morning paper should come with the same kind of legal disclaimers and health warnings that accompany some wonder drugs: Could cause shortness of breath, heart palpitations, sleepless nights and irritability.

Recent financial articles have noted that hiring has slowed, the stock market could be in a correction, and the nation’s economic recovery may be hitting a “soft patch.” It’s no wonder that the housing market, at least nationally, has struggled to gain traction after last year’s boost from the federal tax credit.

Against this backdrop of gloomy financial and housing news, it was interesting to open the Wall Street Journal last week and see in big, bold headlines: Why It’s Time to Buy. As the Journal put it, “The clouds haven’t quite parted, but the long-term case for home ownership is looking stronger.”

Journal reporters Ruth Simon and Jessica Silver-Greenberg researched and wrote one of the most thorough and rationally analyzed articles I’ve read on the market in quite some time. Far from being Pollyannaish, they acknowledged the economic headwinds facing the market and the clouds overhead. But they also spent a great deal of time arguing the positives for buyers today as well as the long-term investment opportunities.

“Despite all the gloom…there are growing indications that it is a good time to buy,” the Journal reporters noted. “Mortgage rates, which fell to 4.55%...are near 50-year lows. Homes have become more affordable than they have been in years. According to Moody's Analytics, the ratio of home prices to income is now 20.9% lower than the 15-year average through 2010, and 12.5% lower than the 1989-2004 average. A historic glut of homes, meanwhile, has created a buyer's market. There were about 15 million vacant homes in the U.S. last year—some 3.1 million more than normal.”
Simon and Silver-Greenberg then said what Realtors have been telling clients: “Such conditions might not last long,” they warned. “Moody's Analytics predicts that the number of distressed sales will begin to fall in 2013, and that prices will begin to edge upward then. Home building is at a virtual standstill, so the supply overhang isn't likely to get much worse. Meanwhile, demographic indicators such as "household formation"—the number of new households each year—are on the rise, and promise to
take a bite out of the glut in coming years.”
In their analysis, the Journal reporters looked at several financial and psychological aspects of the market and determined that the winds are shifting:
• Lending: “As rates hover near historic lows, experts expect banks to ease borrowing standards over time;
• Psychology: If prices stabilize, it could tip the balance away from fear and pull more buyers back into the market;
• Affordability: In several markets, it's becoming cheaper to own than to rent;
• Demographics: The rate of "household formation" is expected to climb in coming years;
• Employment: The strength of the housing recovery depends on job growth. Despite some hiccups, the job market is improving in most parts of the country.

More Encouraging Signs for Housing Market
Friday, May 13, 2011

As we head into the heart of this year’s spring season, I thought it would be helpful to share what we are seeing from a national perspective in the housing market and point out a few reasons for optimism in the months ahead.

Bruce Zipf, president and CEO of NRT, our national parent company, said this week that despite trailing last year’s pace, our overall business results have managed to exceed expectations, thanks in large part to a surprisingly resilient high-end market.

Our company’s agents across the country closed 32 homes over $10 million in March, up from 10 last year and just six in March 2009. The total number of homes sold over $2 million is up 12%. There was particular strength in the luxury segment of the market in the Northeast, Florida and in California.

Normally, we judge the strength of the housing market by looking at current sales volume against the same time last year to gain a sense of how things are improving. But we couldn’t properly compare data from this March and April due to the artificial stimulus effects of last year’s Home Buyer Tax Credit. In May, these effects should lessen and give us our first true glimpse of the market’s strength.

Nonetheless, I’m optimistic that we’ll continue to see improvement in the market as we head into the heart of the spring buying season, especially right here in Colorado. Many of our local offices report seeing growing momentum from buyers looking to take advantage of mortgage rates while they’re still low, as well as prices that remain affordable.

In a number of our markets, we continue to have more qualified buyers than listings. This situation is resulting in multiple offers for many attractive homes, often bidding up the sale price over the asking price. Buyers are coming in with a lot of cash or all cash to win out the competition. My how things have changed since the depths of the recession!

This is not to say that every market around Colorado is experiencing the same strong buyer demand. Certainly a number of communities and even neighborhoods within those communities have more balanced markets, and some homes continue to sit while others sell briskly. But in general, we’re seeing well-presented, well-priced homes selling much better today than they did a couple of years ago.

Another reason for my optimism is that mortgage rates are likely to remain affordable for some time to come. I know a lot of market-watchers were concerned that the Fed could ratchet up interest rates soon in response to inflation fears and the end of the government’s bond-buying program. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke largely put those fears to rest in his first-ever press conference last week.

Although Bernanke signaled the end of its $600 billion bond-buying program, as expected, he made it very clear that he isn’t inclined to raise interest rates for a long time unless the inflation outlook worsens. More than anyone, the Fed chairman is very aware that the economy continues to face headwinds in the form of high unemployment levels and a tepid housing market in many parts of the country. While things are certainly getting better, Bernanke isn’t likely to do anything to douse the nascent recovery.

So as we look to May and the summer season before long, there are many reasons to be encouraged that our housing recovery will continue to gain traction – especially here Colorado.

Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Case Against Case-Shiller (and other lagging housing market indicators)
As I opened the morning paper the other day, I saw a story splashed across the business section suggesting that we might be heading into a “double-dip” housing recession based on the latest S&P Case-Shiller index report. What was ironic was that over the past week, I had just finished meeting with my office managers – most of whom were reporting that their local markets were revving up with great activity, and some markets with a real sense of urgency. What gives?

The paradox made me think that a lot of people – consumers and real estate reporters alike – may not realize that such monthly reports as the Case-Shiller index and even the very popular market reports are really lagging indicators of the housing market. They are in effect old news by the time they are released. These reports are based on closed sales the previous month that actually began two or three months before in many cases.

Take the most recent Case-Shiller report: This study came from closed home sales – not in March or even February – but January. Those same transactions began when consumers agreed to buy the home perhaps as early as the fall. These kinds of reports are a very old “snapshot” of the housing market by the time they get to the news media. This would be like someone opening up their sports section last October and instead of seeing the Giants in the World Series, found our local heroes 10 games out of first because the papers was still reporting the July standings.

So what’s a better way to take the current temperature of the market? New sales or pending sales are a much more accurate assessment of what’s happening now because they are a forward-looking indicator. These are sales that have just occurred, but haven’t gone through the 30 days or 60 days necessary to complete escrow. New pending sales offer the best barometer of what’s happening at the moment regarding buyer confidence in the housing market; the transactions that will be reported by Case-Shiller a month or two from now.

And what’s encouraging to me is that all across Colorado, pending sales in March are outpacing the same total last year.

This is not to say that every community and every neighborhood in Colorado is seeing a revival in new sales. There are still slow areas that are still challenged, depending on the price point. And even within some cities, certain parts of the market are doing well while others might be soft. And the overall market will continue to be challenged by shadow inventory of distressed properties coming on the market.

But my point is that if you read the lagging indicators like the Case-Shiller report you’d think the market is dropping off the cliff. Far from it. We are definitely seeing a tremendous improvement in many parts of Colorado, and we’re not alone.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the pending home sales index for properties nationwide, a forward-looking indicator, rose 2.1 percent to 90.8, based on contracts signed in February, from 88.9 in January. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said, “Pending home sales have trended up very nicely since bottoming out last June, even with periodic monthly declines. Contract activity is now 20 percent above the low point immediately following expiration of the home buyer tax credit.”

The outlook wasn’t even across all regions, however. The PHSI in the Northeast fell 10.9 percent to 65.5 in February. In the Midwest the index rose 4.0 percent in February to 81.1. Pending home sales in the South increased 2.7 percent to an index of 100.3. While in the West the index rose 7.0 percent to 105.6 and is now 0.6 percent higher than February 2010.

“We may not see notable gains in existing-home sales in the near term, but they’re expected to rise 5 to 10 percent this year with the economic recovery, job creation and excellent affordability conditions providing confidence to buyers who’ve been on the sidelines,” Yun said.

One other thought when it comes to housing numbers: It’s important to take the lower median or average sale prices in monthly reports this time of year with a grain of salt.

In many markets throughout Colorado, REOs and short sales can make up as much as 20% to 30% of the entry level sales. While typical homeowners might take a break from the holidays and list (or re-list) their property in January or February, banks don’t take any breaks in November and December. These listings stay on right through the holidays. So a greater percentage of available listings that sell are “distressed” properties at lower price points, bringing the median and average sales prices down for several months in the New Year.

The 2011 Colorado Real Estate and Economic summit was a tremendous success! We had a packed house of more than 1,000 people from as far away as Vail, Steamboat and Aspen. We have received tons of great feedback via emails and Facebook posts, which is always wonderful to hear.The recap website has been set up at www.coloradoeconomicsummit.com and contains video highlights of each speaker and presentation from the summit.

Friday March 4, 2011

The Oracle of Omaha is bullish on housing – and he may not be alone
When Warren Buffett talks, people listen. In particular, the Oracle of Omaha gets investors’ attention when he issues his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareowner letter, a frank and enlightening assessment of the economy and investment outlook. What jumped out in this year’s letter released last week: Buffett is bullish on housing again, and he’s putting his money where his mouth is.

In his letter, Buffett notes that, “a housing recovery will probably begin in a year or so. In any event, it is certain to occur at some point.” He said that “home ownership makes sense for most Americans, particularly at today’s lower prices and bargain interest rates,” adding, as an aside, that “the third best investment I ever made was the purchase of my home.” The first two, he says, were wedding rings.

Consequently, Buffett told shareowners, he has made several strategic investments in the housing sector in recent months. Among these are five corporate acquisitions in the building components field, a $50 million acquisition of a brick manufacturer, a new $55 million roofing plant for Johns Manville, and $200 million capital expansion of his Shaw Industries carpet company.

“Buffett doesn’t spend money unless he thinks he’s going to make money,” Jeff Matthews, hedge fund manager and author of Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett’s Omaha, said in a recent interview. Matthews said Buffett’s housing bullishness is “interesting because that didn’t happen last year and didn’t happen the year before that.”

The legendary chairman of Berkshire Hathaway isn’t the only one suggesting a turnaround in housing may be at hand. The Wall Street Journal ran an article recently headlined, “Why 2011 May be the End of the Housing Crash.” The Journal gives a number of reasons as to why we may have seen the bottom, including the fact that housing is the most affordable it has been in decades.

Nationally, the cost of a house is the equivalent of about 19 months of total pay for an average family, the lowest level in 35 years, Moody’s Analytics says. Prices usually average close to two years’ pay, although that varies nationally. At the peak, midway through the last decade, a home in Los Angeles, the Journal said, cost the equivalent of 4.5 years’ pay. The average price has since fallen to just over two years’ income now. That’s well below its pre-bubble average of 2.6 years.

“Pricing is down so much in some markets that when you analyze renting versus owning it makes much more sense to own,” says Michael Larson, a real-estate analyst at Weiss Research in Jupiter, Fla. Such analyses are “definitely bullish,” the Journal said. “Housing prices will probably bottom in 2011,” agreed Scott Simon, a managing director at money-management firm Pimco in Newport Beach. His views are important because Simon foresaw the housing crash, helping his firm dodge losses that plagued Wall Street.

The Journal also points out that investors are stepping up to buy real estate, which is usually another sign that the market has bottomed out or is near a bottom. In some instances, they’re paying entirely in cash. “That’s a far cry from the heady bubble days when borrowed money seemed the key to riches,” the paper reported. “It’s a sign that these investors are betting on a rebound.”

What to make of all this? It gives me reason for optimism that the real estate market in general – and the Colorado market in particular – may see much brighter days in 2011. As the economy continues to mend, it’s reasonable to expect some of the greatest economic gains will be seen locally thanks to our diverse economic makeup. That bodes well for our local housing market.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Positive Housing News Revealed Through Two Industry Reports This Week
Two key reports were released this week that indicate dramatic positive increases on the housing front. First, NAR released its December existing home sales report which revealed that existing home sales rose sharply in December with sales increasing for the fifth time in the past six months.

The organization reported, “Existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 12.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.28 million in December from an upwardly revised 4.7 million in November but remain 2.9 percent below the 5.44 million pace in December 2009.”

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say about the upward trend, “December was a good finish to 2010, when sales fluctuated more than normal. The pattern over the past six months is clearly showing a recovery,” he said. “The December pace is near the volume we’re expecting for 2011, so the market is getting much closer to an adequate, sustainable level. The recovery will likely continue as job growth gains momentum and rising rents encourage more renters into ownership while exceptional affordability conditions remain.”

Also revealed this week was Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s must anticipated Denver Luxury Home Report which revealed that luxury home sales in the Denver Metro Area jumped sharply in December compared to a year ago as the luxury end of the market gained momentum heading into the new year. A total of 51 homes sold for more than $1 million in the Denver Metro Area in December, up 54.5% percent from the 33 that changed hands in December 2009. Sales were also up nearly 16 percent from November.

The median sale price of million-dollar homes edged higher in December from November, reaching 1.25 million, up from $1.23 million the previous month. However, the median was down 7.4 percent from last year’s level of $1.35 million. The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million last month in the Denver Metro Area.

There definitely has been a lot more optimism in the market lately. High-end buyers are starting to feel more confident about the economic recovery, both in the U.S. and here in the Denver area. Early signs are showing that those buyers feel more confident that the economy is improving nationally as well as in the Denver Metro area and as the employment figures improve and thus, these are the buyers who are going to make a move. As that happens, then the rest of the real estate industry will be pulled forward. I believe these are the early signs that the luxury market is on the rebound and may be the first price niche to recover from the housing downturn of the last several years.

Monday, January
31, 2011
How Property Taxes Impact Your Closing by Guardian Title
Every year at this time, homeowners question how property tax certifications and payments due will impact their closing. We've summarized this information to refresh you on the process in Colorado.

Counties assess and certify mill levies and tax amounts on real property annually. This process is typically completed in the end of December or early January. Tax notifications are sent out in January, and property owners have two options for payment. First, they may pay the full amount on or before April 30th. Second, they may divide the amount into two installments wherein the first half of taxes is due by February 28th and the balance must be paid by June 15th.

How does this affect your closing?
Depending on the time of year in which you close, there are several ways in which taxes will be accounted for at closing. One item always found on settlement statements is a proration between buyer and seller. Since we pay taxes in arrears, the seller credits the buyer for the portion of year which they have owned the property.

If the closing takes place early in the year before counties have certified mill levies, the closing agent will typically escrow 125% of the prior year's tax amount (or use the most recent assessed value if higher). Escrows are held until the certified amount is available, taxes are then paid, and any excess amount is refunded to the seller. If the certified amount is available at closing, that amount will be collected and paid upon closing.

If a lender is involved in the purchase early in the calendar year, they may request a different means of paying taxes other than in entirety by the seller on the HUD-1. Ultimately, the seller will either pay or credit the full amount due to the buyer on the settlement statement with varying line item descriptions.

What happens when tax payments have been sent to the county but not yet processed?
Tax escrows may be collected and held by the closing agent until the treasurer's office is able to verify payments have posted for the property. Counties may take a few days to post payments near due dates because of the heavy volume. Once verification is received from the treasurer's office, any excess escrows are returned to the seller.

On occasion, both the lender and closing agent may submit payments to the treasurer's office particularly near due dates. If this occurs, then either the lender or closing agent will return the tax escrow to the seller after they receive funds from the treasurer.

What is the owner's responsibility in paying property taxes?
Failure to receive a tax notice does not relieve an owner's responsibility for paying taxes on time. If you are purchasing a property near year end, please note that your tax statement could be delayed to correct for the new ownership. Closing agents and lenders are not liable for such tax payments, it is solely the responsibility of the property owner.

, December 3, 2010
Colorado Housing Market Coming Back to Life
Smart Money’ Moving Back into Luxury Market

The Colorado housing market continued to rebound in 2010 from its recessionary lows, although strong economic headwinds and the end of the federal homebuyer tax credit combined to slow the pace of recovery in the latter months of the year.

Both home sales and the median sale price of all housing – single family and condominiums – rose steadily throughout the first half of the year as buyers took advantage of bargain home prices. As summer turned to fall, sales began to ease but the median sale price continued to climb in most parts of the Denver Metro region.

According to Metrolist*, home prices in the six county Denver Metro area **rallied from about $202,000 as of October 31, 2009 versus $212,000 as of October 31, 2010, resulting in a 4.9% increase in home prices for the region. Sold listings year over year showed a reasonable decline with 2009 figures reporting 3,715 listings sold versus a total 2,658 listings sold as of October 31, 2010, resulting in a 39% decrease in sold listings. We believe the dramatic decline in sold listings has much to do with the mid-year expiration of the federal first time home buyer tax credit as well as a stabilization of home prices.

Year over year (October 31, 2009 vs. October 31, 2010) the average days on market went from 49 to 54, respectively, resulting in a 10% increase.

An encouraging sign for the local housing market is that the upper end of the market has steadily been gaining momentum this year, though we have seen an ease in recent weeks. Luxury homebuyers, including a number of relocating buyers, are becoming much more active and are occasionally buying the homes with all-cash offers. One point of distinction for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, too, is that we were once again recognized as the luxury home leader. According to Metrolist, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is the leading real estate broker*** in home sales $500,000 and above, accounting for 11.2% of all home sales in this arena. Our nearest competitor earned just 7.8% or a commanding 43.5% difference.

What’s causing the high-end to rally? Local agents tell us that there has been incredible pent-up demand among the moneyed class looking to buy. They’ve been out there scouting the market for quite some time but holding off until the time was right. Now that prices on luxury homes have come down sharply to levels we haven’t seen in a decade or more, they’re making the move. There is greater confidence among high-end buyers that we’ve seen the bottom of the market and prices will only rise from here.

Luxury buyers can hardly be blamed for thinking the market is offering more relative bargains than the Nordstrom’s half-yearly sale. We have seen the luxury sector of local markets in Colorado stabilize and rebound off their recessionary lows. Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage’s latest luxury housing reports show:

•A total of 36 homes sold for more than $1 million in the Denver Metro area in September, down from 46 a year ago and 71 last month.
•However, the median sale price did climb more than 14% from August to reach $1,422,500 in September.
•The median price was off 2.9% from a year ago.
•The most expensive sale in the Denver Metro area in September was a six-bedroom, seven-bath 10,473 square foot home in Cherry Hills Village that sold for $7 million.
•Denver boasted the most million-dollar sales with 11, followed by Boulder with 5, Greenwood Village with four and Cherry Hills village with three.
In the past, luxury homebuyers – the so-called smart money – are often the first to declare a market bottom and jump back in because they have the cash and the means to do so once they are convinced the time is right. These buyers are astute observers of real estate trends and financial markets, and are often the first to see turnarounds in the macro economy. Their confidence in the market often leads overall consumer confidence.

It will be interesting to see if the rest of the market follows suit again this time. While the economy here in the Denver Metro area and across the country certainly has been sluggish and unemployment levels remain stubbornly high, it is encouraging to see solid improvement in the upper end of the real estate market. Only time will tell if it catches on to the rest of the market.

, November 4, 2010
Weighing YOUR "Personal Economy" vs. "Nation's Economy" when deciding to Buyer and Sell a Home

When I talk about real estate with my clients, friends, family and even my fellow Realtors, I hear the usual stories of buyers holding off due to fears of the slow economy or they are waiting for that perfect “screaming buy” to come along before purchasing. I also often hear about sellers not listing their homes because they wouldn’t get as much in this challenging market as their neighbors did a few years ago. I, however, choose to look at the market in an entirely different way – one focused on opportunities.

After my clients wring their hands about the nation’s high unemployment rate, the fragile economic recovery, and other economic stories they had seen on CNBC or read in this morning’s paper, I reply with a simple question: “Ok, but how is your personal economy doing?” After a puzzling look, I explain that while the nation’s economy is important, it’s not nearly as relevant to them as their own personal circumstances when it comes to buying or selling a home.

In many cases, my buyers have secure jobs with good incomes and strong savings and investments. With home prices easing and mortgage rates near record lows, they were personally in a good position to afford the home of their dreams – perhaps in a better position than they will be in the future when interest rates rise and home prices rebound. Conversely, many of my sellers have a great deal of equity in the home that they had owned for years and would walk away with a good profit. I remind them why they wanted to sell in the first place – to move up to a larger home, or maybe downsize in retirement, or perhaps relocate to be closer to their grandkids.

This story should remind all of us that it’s important for consumers to weigh their own “personal economy” against the nation’s economy when deciding whether to purchase or sell a home. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily drumbeat of economic news. You can’t turn on the TV or the radio, or read a paper without the latest economic minutia. While most experts agree that the U.S. economy is recovering and the risk of a “double-dip recession” appears over, some days it still feels like we’re taking two steps forward and one back.

But we can’t lose sight that what really matters in our investment decision isn’t the latest jobless figures or manufacturing orders or even the Case-Shiller index, it’s our own personal circumstances. Assuming your “personal economy” is reasonably good, it may be time to swallow your fears and take advantage of this window of opportunity to buy a home.

I’m reminded of the old saying that you make your profit on real estate when you buy, not when you sell. It’s a lot like the “buy low, sell high” philosophy of investing in stocks. While no one questions that there are economic challenges out there in the market, there are also tremendous opportunities. By the time all of those macro economic concerns have been lifted – when the “all clear” bell rings again – it’s doubtful the same opportunities will be around in terms of prices and mortgage rates. Your “personal economy” may just be the best indicator you have when considering whether to make a real estate move now rather than later.

If you are ready to make an informed decision about your real estate future, please contact me directly. I am happy to help you in any way I can.

, September 22, 2010
10 Reasons to Buy a Home
Essentially what the reporter says is enough is enough with the doom and gloom – if the numbers work for you and you aren’t limited by financing constraints or other challenges – now truly is a great time to buy a house.
The reporter was inspired by a Time Magazine article which stated on its cover “Why owning a home may no longer make economic sense.” What the WSJ reporter candidly points out is, Time Magazine was the same publication five years ago to run a story that said “We’re Going Gaga Over Real Estate.”
Why I like this so much is we’re finally seeing an article and a publication for that matter that is focused less on sensationalizing the real estate market and instead focusing on many of its benefits and how consumers can take advantage of today’s interest rates, inventory and of course, the overall benefits of homeownership.
Enough with the doom and gloom. We shouldn’t be scared of buying a home. If the math works for you, it’s probably a very good time to buy a home. Be sure to view the reporter’s in-person interview shortly after the article was released. It’s a good one.

, September 8, 2010
New Figures Underscore Continued Modest Recovery
Figures released today by the National Association of Realtors are a good indicator that the market continues to improve – though at very modest levels.  The market is, in this post recessionary period, improving though will continue to do so with minor bumps in the road along the way.
Last month’s lower than expected sales figures were just that, a bump in the road. We saw the slip partly due to seasonality and partly due to the expiration of the tax credit.
Now, one month later, we’re seeing numbers rise. According to the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index, pending home sales rose 5.2 percent to 79.4 based on contracts signed in July from a downwardly revised 75.5 in June.
According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, “Home sales will remain soft in the months ahead, but improved affordability conditions should help with a recovery,” he said. “But the recovery looks to be a long process. Home buyers over the past year got a great deal and buyers for the balance of this year have an edge over sellers. For those who bought at or near the peak several years ago, particularly in markets experiencing big bubbles, it may take over a decade to fully recover lost equity.”
Now of course this is a national perspective and we all know that real estate is local. Locally we’re seeing some pockets of strength. Some of the most sought after neighborhoods continue to see strong sales while those that may be challenged due to proximity to jobs and commerce, are seeing bigger lags.
Overall what we’re seeing most is buyers want to take advantage of the low interest rates and realize that thanks to those rates, they have particularly higher purchasing power right now. From a move-up buyer perspective, we’re seeing a lot of sellers consider selling right now. Yes, they realize they may take a hit from the flurry days of the early part of the decade but when they compare it to what they can purchase on the move-up side and what their monthly payment will be, they truly see a benefit. These indicators are really helping to drive our market right now.
The bottom line is, we are on a good recovery path. And an interesting report this week underscores that. Bankrate revealed numbers that provided a good look at consumer confidence. An overwhelming 90 percent of homeowners say they don’t regret buying their current home. That is even in the face of stagnant – or sliding – home prices home owners have suffered. It is comforting to see this number because regardless of where market conditions currently are, consumers continue to understand that real estate is a good, long term investment.

, August 19, 2010
Luxury Home Sales Dip in July But Price Niche Continues to Be Among the Market’s Strongest
Luxury home sales in the Denver metro area last month dipped four percent over the same period in 2009 while prices were flat year over year. A total of 50 homes sold for more than $1 million in the Denver metro area last month, down slightly from the 52 sales in July 2009. The median sale price of million-dollar homes remained at $1.22 million, the same as a year ago.

Both sales and prices in July declined from June’s numbers, when sales reached their highest level in nearly two years. Sales in June totaled 67 properties, 17 more than July, while the median sale price in June stood at $1.34 million, 8.9 percent higher than the July level.

The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all homes sold for more than $1 million in the Denver metro area.

July’s sales decline in luxury homes was far less than the general market, which saw sales of all homes and condos drop 26.6 percent last month from July 2009, according to Metrolist. Sales also fell 19.5 percent from June of this year.

My analysis? Quite frankly we’re pleased to see the strengthening of the upper end of the housing market despite the softening of the lower end after the federal tax credit expired. We are carefully tracking the upper-end market’s success so far this year to see if the positive trend continues into the fall.

July’s slight year-over-year decline in luxury home sales followed five consecutive monthly gains. In fact, million-dollar sales year to date in 2010 are actually up nearly 18 percent compared to the same period last year.

We’re seeing an improving level of consumer confidence among buyers in the upper end that we haven’t seen in three years. One reason may be Colorado’s relatively low unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, two full percentage points below the nation’s jobless level. The numbers suggest a slow but steady economic recovery, which in turn in helping bolster consumer confidence.

The high-end buyers who have been on the sidelines for the past couple of years are starting to jump back into the market. They’ve been waiting and waiting, and seem to have decided that both prices and interest rates are about as low as they’re going to get, so they’re moving ahead their plans to invest in real estate again.

Some key findings from this month’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:

o The most expensive sale in the Denver metro area in July was a nine-bedroom, eight-bath 11,000-square foot home in Denver that sold for $4.5 million;
o Denver boasted the most million-dollar sales with 12, followed by Boulder with nine, Castle Rock with seven, and Greenwood Village with five;
o It took an average of 124 days to sell a million-dollar home in the region, up from 116 days in June and 83 days a year ago.

As you can see, on the surface, these numbers may be seen as a negative but honestly, I see quite the contrary. We’re finally seeing some great movement in the upper end and buyers are acting which is a good sign for the overall economy.

Monday, August 9, 2010

1. What will the industry do to adjust to the new market demand or lack thereof?

•I think we’ve been adjusting in recent years as the market has struggled with the economic downturn.
•But at Coldwell Banker we’ve grappled with the challenging market by working to grow our business.
•We’ve launched a number of new initiatives, such as our relationship with Comcast, as well as CB Connect and more.
•We’ve instituted far-reaching new customer outreach campaigns both at the corporate level and through our agents.
•And we’ve launched more focused marketing campaigns, especially e-marketing, and deployed more advanced technology for our agents.
•Additionally, we’ve looked at this as an opportunity to recruit outstanding agents to join our team – people who have a strong track record of success and have been through these cycles.
•Although we’ve certainly had our challenges like everyone else, I’ve been encouraged by how we’ve weathered the storm and actually have grown business and market share in some regions.
•I guess I’m also optimistic that we’ve seen the worst of the downturn. Our market figures and reports from the field tell us things have improved tremendously over the past year.
2. How much more contraction can we expect?

•No one has a crystal ball, but the data I’ve looked at from our offices and the market in general tells me that we’ve seen the worst of the downturn and are heading back.
•I don’t mean to say that we’re back to normal – far from it. But we’ve seen solid improvement in many of our markets.
•Last year, much of the gains came from bargain hunters buying up foreclosures and other distressed properties…
•But since last fall, and especially this year, we’ve seen strong improvement in the mid-range and even some of the upper levels of the market.
•Our monthly million-dollar housing report found high-end home sales here in the Denver metro area jumped to their highest level in two full years in June.
•Still, I also realize that as much as we’d all like it, I don’t think we’re going to have a V-shaped recovery in the economy or the housing market.
•This rebound is looking like it will come in fits and starts – more of a stair step improvement than a straight line.
•We’ve certainly bounced sharply off last spring’s recessionary lows. But growth has slowed in the aftermath of the federal tax credit expiration.
•We also face economic headwinds in the months ahead – high unemployment, very slow GDP growth and consumer spending, and concerns about the debt markets.
•Nonetheless, I’m optimistic by improvement we’ve seen in sales in Colorado.
•Couple that with an improving stock market, affordable home values and record-low mortgage rates and I think you have a solid foundation for a steady housing recovery.

3. What continues to insulate or separate the Denver metro area from other markets?

•The Denver metro area’s housing market has long been one of the most sought-after– not only in Colorado, but across the country.
•The demand for housing here has historically been far greater than most other regions for a number of reasons:
•First and foremost, the astounding entrepreneurial success that continues to spawn high-paying jobs and affluent employees looking for homes.
•Also, there’s a tremendous quality of life here that few regions in the world can match – outstanding schools, a wealth of recreational activities, five-star restaurants…and so much more.
•Also, we have some of the very best universities in the world here in Denver and in Colorado – institutions that are producing tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
•Buyers have always been willing to pay a premium for homes here, and sellers have historically received strong returns on their housing investments.
•Our latest Denver million-dollar home sales report illustrates this point: Not only were sales up to their highest level in two years, sellers got on average 90% of their asking price.
•So while the Denver metro area has not been immune to the economic and housing downturn of the past few years, this region may be bouncing back stronger than other parts of the country.
•I would say that long-term investors who have waded into the market of late will be rewarded for their efforts with solid returns over the years.

4. What influence does the nation’s economic crisis have on real estate?

•It’s an interesting question. It will be hard for the market to come all the way back to normal until we get our house in order, both in terms of the economy and what’s happening in the government.
•With a large budget deficit, the government must find a way to begin closing the gap. The only two ways of doing that are by cutting spending and increasing revenue – most likely both.
•Increased revenue will come as the overall economy recovers, but in the meantime it could mean increased taxation – perhaps sales and income tax.
•On the reduction side of the equation, closing the gap will likely mean job cuts and more unpaid furloughs of state employees.
•Both scenarios mean less disposable income for homeowners and potential homeowners to spend on housing.
While all of this will certainly have an impact on the housing recovery, I honestly believe it’s more than offset by the positives we’re seeing: buyers taking advantage of record-low mortgage rates and attractive prices, as well as a slow but steady improvement in stock portfolios, the jobs picture and the overall economy.

Overall, the long-term future of real estate is bright.

, July 26, 2010

Luxury home sales in Denver metro area last month rose to their highest level in nearly two years. A total of 67 homes sold for more than $1 million in June, up 22 percent from May and 3 percent from a year ago when 55 and 65 properties sold, respectively. It was the highest level for luxury sales since 89 properties changed hands in August 2008.

Additionally, the median sale price of million-dollar homes in June was $1.34 million, up 4.7 percent from May’s $1.28 million median, but down 2.8 percent from the median a year ago of $1.38 million. Home sellers received an average of 90 percent of their asking price, down from 93 percent in May but up from 87 percent last year.

What these figures show is that the high-end market in the Denver metro area continues to stabilize and improve. With interest rates at historic lows and sellers pricing their homes very competitively, buyers have responded.”

The bottom line is that sooner or later, housing will come back. While it will undoubtedly take the housing market some time to return to normalcy, it’s clear that all segments of the market are slowly but steadily improving following last year’s low point. We saw it in the entry level last year as bargain hunters took advantage of attractive prices on distressed properties. And now we’re seeing the middle and upper ends of the market bouncing back nicely

Thursday, July 9, 2010

With the expiration of the federal tax credit, the housing market is facing a key inflexion point as we head into the thick of the summer vacation season. The government stimulus has certainly helped spur a rebound in the real estate market, but the recovery is fragile and observers are watching closely to see if the market can grow without the support of government aid.

Several key economic announcements out this week could bolster the nascent recovery. On Thursday, mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac announced that U.S. mortgage rates have fallen to a record low. Rates for 30-year fixed loans declined this week to 4.57 percent from 4.58 percent. That is the lowest since Freddie Mac began tracking rates in 1971.

While the overall level of real estate activity has eased in recent weeks with the expiration of the tax credit deadline, many economists believe that low mortgage rates will spur growth in the market by reducing borrowing costs for home buyers. Mortgage interest rates have tumbled in the past two months as concern that a debt crisis in Europe may spread boosted demand for the safety of bonds, including mortgage-backed securities.

Meanwhile, Reuters recently reported that consumer sentiment rose in June to its highest level since January 2008 while reports of job losses were down sharply from a year ago.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan’s survey of consumers, a key gauge of consumer sentiment, rose to 76 from 73.6 in May. The figure was above the median forecast of 75.5 among economists polled by Reuters. At the same time, reports of job losses fell by half since last June, from 65 percent of respondents to 29 percent, the survey showed.

“The June 2010 survey recorded the most favorable news heard by consumers about jobs in five years,” Richard Curtin, director of the surveys, said in a statement. But he cautioned that consumers “do not anticipate significant declines in unemployment during the year ahead.”

Consumer sentiment is seen as a proxy for consumer spending, which fuels around 70 percent of the U.S. economy. Positive consumer sentiment is particularly critical to the housing market. If buyers are more optimistic about their future, they’re more likely to take out a mortgage and buy a home.

So where does this all leave us as we look at the local housing picture? As reports from our local offices indicate, the market continues to be steady in most communities. But the recovery from last year’s recessionary lows will likely be a gradual one with its share of fits and starts along the way. Unemployment levels will play a key role in the recovery, as will the health of the stock market and the overall national economy.

While there are certainly economic challenges right now, for buyers with a long-term view, the current market provides an attractive opportunity to invest in real estate while mortgage rates are at historic lows and homes are priced very competitively. Savvy buyers are taking advantage of this great combination of home prices and interest rates.

Are you ready to? If you would like more information on the local housing market, please contact me today.

This month’s Colorado Luxury Report found that sales of million-dollar properties in the Denver metro area were up 67% in May from the previous year, and median price continued to rise. Click here to read the latest on what has been going on in this specific market in Colorado.

Thursday, July 1, 2010
This month’s Colorado Luxury Report found that sales of million-dollar properties in the Denver metro area were up 67% in May from the previous year, and median price continued to rise. Click here to read the latest on what has been going on in this specific market in Colorado.

Congress Approves Tax Credit Closing Deadline Extension
By Nick Timiraos

Call it the temporary tax credit that just won’t end.

Congress approved late Wednesday an extension to the June 30 closing deadline for the home buyer tax credit, hours before it was set to expire. The move will give would-be buyers who signed a purchase agreement by April 30 more time to close on those deals and receive the credit that is worth up to $8,000. The new deadline is Sept. 30.

The Senate approved the measure unanimously on Wednesday, one day after the provision sailed through the House of Representatives with little opposition. The President is expected to sign the measure soon.

The Senate had failed to pass the provision last week when it was included in a bigger package that would have extended jobless benefits, among other measures. On Wednesday, an effort to reinstate unemployment insurance failed, and the Senate opted to pass the tax credit provision by itself.

In recent weeks, lenders and real-estate companies have warned of bottlenecks that could lead thousands of potential buyers to miss out on the credit that they thought they were getting. The probably is particularly acute for short sales, where a lender allows a home to sell for less than the amount owed. Banks and the federal government have stepped up efforts to encourage short sales as an alternative to foreclosure, but the deals take longer to approve because they require noteholders to reconcile losses.

Congress first created a tax credit for homeowners in 2008. It was extended and expanded twice during 2009. The last extension, approved last fall, said that house purchase contracts would have to be signed by April 30, and home buyers would have until June 30 to close on those sales. The extension is only good for those buyers who were under contract by April 30. Someone who signed a contract after April 30 and buys a home by Sept. 30 isn’t eligible for the tax credit.

The Senate also passed an extension of the federal flood insurance program until Sept. 30. The change is retroactive to June 1, when the program had lapsed.

, June 2, 2010

Have you been pondering whether or not to remodel your kitchen or bathroom? Does there just not seem to be enough space? Are your things constantly getting cluttered? Many homeowners are facing similar issues and are starting to pose the question to themselves, “Is it time to Remodel or buy a new house?” Click here for more info
==>>Is it time to buy. . . or remodel

Thursday, May 6, 2010
Houses Are Selling in Higher Quantities
As we continue to travel on the road to recovery of the housing market, we know that:

1. Inflation leads to higher interest rates; and
2. Houses are selling in higher quantities which may also cause an increase in prices.

If you are a seller, it may be time to be more realistic with your list price. If you are a buyer, now may be the time to purchase or you may miss out on the current financial opportunities.

According to the National Association of Realtors’ April 22, 2010 Existing Home Sales Rise on Home Buyer Tax Credit and Favorable Market Conditions article, “Buyers responding to the homebuyer tax credit and favorable affordability conditions boosted existing home sales in March, marking the beginning of an expected spring surge.”

The report revealed that sales of single family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops rose 6.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units in March from 5.01 million in February and are 16.1 percent above the 4.61 million-unit level in March 2009.

Although many people are purchasing distressed properties in foreclosure sales, there are also a large number of purchases made on non-distressed properties.  These market trends may indicate that we have reached the bottom.

Message to Buyers and Sellers

Buyers and sellers, our message is simple: Things are changing and the opportunities available today, won’t last forever.

Buyers: You may not want to make the mistake of waiting for everyone else to make a move before you feel comfortable enough to make a purchase. Many people have already made a purchasing
decision and we never know what the bottom of the market is until it has passed. Here’s one thing that is certain: for buyers who need to finance their purchase of real estate, increasing the interest rate is
the equivalent of a price increase.

Sellers: If you are serious about selling your property, you may want to adjust your price to where the market is moving, take your lumps and move on or you may be waiting a very long time.

Friday, May 1, 2010
Useful Websites for Home Buyers, Sellers and Owners
I thought it might be helpful to list my favorite websites for people interested in buying or selling a home, remodeling their existing residence, or just looking for local information on their new neighborhood. There are countless websites, of course, and I don’t claim to have the ultimate list – these are just ones that I have found can be very useful for homeowners and those looking to become owners.

Here are my favorites:

ColoradoHomes.com . Ok, I admit I’m biased. But Coldwell Banker’s consumer website offers a myriad of tools for home buyers and sellers, including advanced search engines, tips on buying and selling, relocation information, and even community facts, figures and links;

Realtor.com. In that same vein, Realtor.com is also a good consumer website, especially for those thinking about relocating to other regions or want advice on buying or selling, as well as hiring an agent. There are articles on the market, consumer tips, and even suggestions on gardening and remodeling;

cbcotabletalk.wordpress.com. If you're looking to get your real estate feet wet, start with blogs such as this one from Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. They give great tips, are easy to read and are updated frequently. This site also has 50 other real estate blogs.

Bankrate.com. Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to buy, this site will help you figure out how much you can afford. This is one of my favorite financial websites because it offers mortgage rate comparisons, links to lenders, and literally dozens of different types of calculators to figure it all out;

Local.Yahoo.com. So you’re ready to move into your new home. Now what? Go to this site to find a plethora of useful links and information on everything from local restaurants and coffee shops to city offices and police departments to public utilities to get the water and gas turned on;

Yelp.com. Another great site for newcomers to an area is Yelp, which features customer reviews and ratings on every imaginable local business. Sure there’s the usual restaurant ratings, but you’ll come here to find favorite dentists, veterinarians, gardeners and yes, even real estate agents;

ServiceMagic.com. For those homeowners planning to remodel or just looking for a contractor to do some routine work, this website can be quite useful. Service Magic prescreens a wide variety of contractors and also incorporates customer ratings in order to provide a list of recommended businesses;

HomeTips.com. Run by Don Vandervort, a host on HGTV and well-known author of do-it-yourself books, this site – as you might guess – specializes in articles on how to maintain and remodel your home. One of the favorite search engines helps the weekend warrior figure out how to do a wide variety of repairs and save money.

Friday, April 2, 2010
The time to BUY IS NOW! Need a few reasons?

The Fed repeated its announcement last week at the conclusion of it meeting that the Fed will conclude the $1.25 Trillion MBS Purchase Program by the end of March.

What does this mean to the market? It will most likely result in higher interest rates.

For the past several months, dating back to Nov 2008, the Federal Reserve has been on a MBS buying campaign to keep interest rates low. The FED has been purchasing Mortgage Backed Securities at roughly 20 Million a week since Nov of 2008. The success of the program is evident when you reference the chart below. Rates ended 2009 with the lowest average in history at 5.04%. The next lowest year was 2003 ending at an average of 5.83%. The way this works is the Fed participates in the open market as a buyer of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) increasing the demand for the securities which creates a lower rate of return on the security which translates into lower interest rates for new Mortgages being issued. If the demand is decreasing for MBS the interest rates for Mortgage is increasing because the investors will require a higher rate of return to purchase MBS. The recent stabilization of low interest rates was the result of this campaign and when it is eliminated we will most likely see greater swings in interest rates from day to day and week to week. The end result of which will be higher interest rates.

Freddie Mac



Primary Mortgage Market Survey®





















































































































































































































Annual Avgs:












What does this do to a buyer’s Purchasing Power or Payment you may ask………………

Loan Amount     Current Rate     Rate Increase    Payment Increase         or Loss of Purchasing Power

                                                                                                                      (To maintain current payment or approval)


$250,000              5.00%                 0.50%                $78/month                         $13,500 Decrease in max approval

$250,000              5.00%                 1.00%                $150/month                       $25,500 Decrease in max approval


$400,000              5.00%                 0.50%                $126/month                       $21,500 Decrease in max approval

$400,000              5.00%                 1.00%                $254/month                       $41,500 Decrease in max approval

Need another reason why now is the time to buy? The tax credit is ending!

Buyers must be Under Contract by April 30th, 2010 and Close by June 30th, 2010 to qualify for the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and the Repeat Buyer Tax Credit. This will be here before we know it and with the increase activity in the housing market under $500,000 it may become harder to find the right house for your buyers. We have already seen a large decrease in inventory. That decrease in inventory means the buyers market is going away and sellers can start asking more for there house.

For frequently asked questions visit the website www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com

If that isn’t enough info…Here is some more.

As of April 2010 FHA will be increasing the up front MIP (Mortgage Insurance Premium) from 1.75% to 2.25%. That means that on a 250K loan a buyer will pay an additional $1250 in costs. Although this can be financed; it still is an additional cost that they wouldn’t have to pay prior to April. This means they must be under contract with the interest rate locked by March 31st to ensure the FHA case number is assigned and avoid the additional costs.

Craig A. White
Mortgage Advisor
Direct 720-938-5718
Email Craig.white@mortgagefamily.com

Sunday March 22, 2010
Denver Metro Area’s Luxury Home Sales Climb in February
High-end home prices also improve from last month and year ago levels

DENVER, Colo. – Sales of million-dollar homes in the Denver metro
area jumped last month as the high-end housing market continued to show encouraging signs
of bouncing back from its recessionary lows, according to Coldwell Banker Residential
Brokerage, Colorado’s leading provider of luxury real estate services.
A total of 37 homes sold for more than $1 million in February, up from just 27 last month
and 28 a year ago. Meanwhile, the median sale price of luxury homes rose 6.6 percent from
last year to $1.35 million.
The figures were derived from Multiple Listing Service data of all million-dollar-plus homes
sold market wide.
“The Denver metro area’s housing market is getting off to a much stronger start in 2010 than
it did a year ago when we were approaching the bottom of the recession,” said Chris Mygatt,
president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Colorado. “Our offices are seeing a
lot more buyers willing and able to take advantage of some good values out there in the
Mygatt said a number of factors seem to be bolstering the local market, including
improvement in the overall economy, a strong rebound in the stock market, improved
consumer confidence, and the upcoming deadline for the home buyer tax credit. Buyers who
want to claim the credit of $6,500 to $8,000 must purchase their home by April 30 and close
by June 30.
“The financial markets have made a tremendous recovery when compared to last March
when the Dow was sitting at 6,500 and the S&P was at 600-plus,” Mygatt said. “Unlike a
year ago, people aren’t afraid to open their 401K statements each month. An improving net
worth is bolstering consumer confidence among buyers, especially high net worth buyers.
Consumer confidence is critical for the housing market recovery.”
Improvement in luxury home sales and prices echoed an uptick in the overall housing
market. According to figures released last week by Metrolist, Denver’s multiple listing
service, the median sale price of single-family homes rose 15 percent year over year. Sales
were up 3.5 percent from the previous month, but down 1.9 percent from February 2009.
Some key findings from this month’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage luxury report:
o The most expensive sale in the Denver metro area in February was a six-bedroom,
nine-bath 5,265-square foot home in Castle Rock that sold for $2.825 million;
o Denver boasted the most million-dollar sales in February with 11, followed by
Greenwood Village with seven and Boulder with 6;
o It took an average of 184 days to sell a million-dollar home in the area, up from 169
days the previous month and 147 days a year ago.

Sunday March 7, 2010
Five Reason We Believe It's Going to be a Good Spring

A year ago this time, this headline wasn’t imaginable. We were in the throes of one of the worst recessions of our time and the market was at a near standstill.
But what a difference a year makes. Today our market is seeing drastic signs of recovery and we are finally moving in a positive direction. To build on that momentum, I’ve put together my top five reasons why I believe it’s going to be a good spring real estate market. Only time will tell if my theory is correct but until then, let’s take a look at the facts:
1. Tax Credits Are Helping Drive the Entry Level Market – Thanks to the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit and the $6,500 existing home buyer tax credit, we are seeing some very strong signs of recovery in these two market niches. With the impending expiration set for April 30, we anticipate that the next two months will bring a surge of buyers looking to get in on a home prior to the credit’s expiration. That results in good news for our market and will help to decrease some of the surplus inventory and bring greater demand for those entry level sellers.
2. Interest Rates Remain Low – Even though we have seen interest rates tick up a bit in recent months, rates are still relatively low. When rates are low, it means a buyer has increased purchasing power and ultimately can get more home for less money.
3. Affordability Remains High – Due to the market correction we’ve seen over the last few years, affordability remains quite high. What this means is a larger percentage of individuals are able to purchase a home.
4. Despite Unemployment Figures, Housing Demand Will Eventually Rise – Yes, unemployment figures are high comparative to the earlier part of the decade. In fact, on a national level, the latest counts were approximately 9%, according the United States Bureau of Labor. Here in Colorado we’re running at about a 7.7% unemployment rate. While yes I would agree that the number is concerning, on the flipside it means that 93% of Coloradans are employed. If the economic outlook continues to improve, that’s going to boost the confidence of the 93%. That’s a lot of people who can boost housing demand.
5. Colorado is an Awesome Place to Call Home – It sounds a little trite and yes, I may be a bit biased, but it’s a fact. Colorado offers one of the most diverse and unique living experiences and economies in the country. From our beautiful terrain, our diverse blend of activities and our overall thriving economy, we are fortunate to live in somewhat of a thriving microclimate comparative to the rest of the country. That all adds up to a demand for housing that will help to drive our market towards recovery, possibly sooner than other states.

Let me remind all of us that the current housing is in a place of recovery. Overall what we’re seeing is a tale of two markets. The luxury market is generally seeing increased inventory and price discounting is the norm. Last I checked we had far above a six-month supply of inventory of our luxury homes. In some cases anywhere from 9-12 months+.

However, if you look at our entry level market, things really haven’t slowed down much at all. In fact, in many cases, they’re rising! We’re still seeing lots of interest for well-priced properties in good neighborhoods.

Overall, the state of the housing market in Colorado remains relatively healthy and strong and I believe we have a good Spring ahead.
February is already shaping up to be a better month.

Friday, February 19, 2010
Colorado Home Prices Up! Plus, February Is Off to a Great Start!
This week NAR released its fourth quarter 2009 housing stats revealing some solid and very positive results including:
• Home sales posted strong gains in the fourth quarter and prices rose in nearly 45% of U.S. metropolitan areas compared with a year earlier, more evidence of an improving climate in housing.
• Bolstered by low interest rates and a first-time home buyer tax credit, existing-home sales rocketed 27.2% from the fourth quarter of 2008 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.03
• The national median price of an existing single-family home was $172,900 or 4.1% below the median price in fourth quarter 2008. That was the smallest price decline in more than two years.
• Prices rose in 67 out of 151 metro areas in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier.
• Sixteen areas had double-digit increases last quarter.
• Some of the positive Colorado markets that saw the biggest gains?

Median home prices of existing single family home by metro area
Not seasonally adjusted; prices in the thousands

Metropolitan Area      2007                2008                2009                % Change

Boulder                     $376.2              $324.7              $335.1              3.2%

Colorado Springs         $217.5              $187.0              $189.8              1.5%

Denver-Aurora           $245.4              $200.8              $223.2              11.2%

In looking at January, the early numbers are in and it seems sales figures overall for January are down from the previous month. Having said that, a decline in sales between December and January is normal for the season. What the January figures show us is the market lost some of the momentum it had built up in the second half of ’09, when home buyers rushed to ensure they could take advantage of a tax credit, ultra-low mortgage rates and lower prices. I anticipate that over the next several weeks those numbers will once again increase as more and more buyers scamper to get in on the market prior to the April 30 first-time home buyer and existing home buyer tax credit expire.

Friday, February 5, 2010
NAR’s Pending Home Sales Report Reveals Tax Credit Is Working

This week the National Association of Realtors released its pending home sales report revealing that contracts signed in December increased 1.0 percent to 96.6 from 95.6 in November and remains 10.9 percent above December 2008 when it was 87.1. December activity was the fifth highest monthly tally in two years.
NAR is chalking much of this surge up to the tax credit as buyers responded to a tax credit that was expiring and then extended and expanded. These swings, they say, are making the underlying trend, which is a broad improvement over year-ago levels.
The fact is there are a lot of first-time home buyers and even some existing homeowners who are vying to take advantage of that credit and that is helping our local market.
One thing I think we will see this year is a much earlier Spring selling market. The spring buying season typically takes off in March and runs through May. But buyers who want to claim this year's tax credit — up to $8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for repeat buyers — must have signed purchase contracts by April 30. And they have to complete the deal by June 30. I agree with Coldwell Banker President and CEO Jim Gillespie who said “Sales are going to take off in February and March and really take off in April,” as home buyers try to get under contract by the April 30 date.
It is comforting to see how many consumers are realizing the opportunities to in today’s market—even many investors. There are amazing opportunities and great deals to be had and as buyers come to this realization, it’s exciting to see how it is affecting our market.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The time to BUY IS NOW!!!
Rates to Rise after March
TheFed repeated its announcement last week at the conclusion of it meeting that the Fed will conclude the $1.25 Trillion MBS Purchase Program by the end of March.
What does this mean to the market? HIGHER RATES
For the past several months, dating back to Dec 2008 (See Chart Below), the Federal Reserve has been on a buying campaign to keep interest rates low. The success of the program is evidenced below by the chart; rates ended 2009 with the lowest average in history at 5.04%. The next lowest year was 2003 ending at an average of 5.83%. The way this works is the Fed participates in the open market as a buyer of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) increasing the demand for the securities which creates a lower rate of return on the security which translates into lower interest rates for new Mortgages being issued. If the demand is decreasing for MBS the interest rates for Mortgage is increasing because the investors will require a higher rate of return to purchase MBS. The recent stabilization of low interest rates was the result of this campaign and when it is eliminated we will most likely see greater swings in interest rates from day to day and week to week, the end result of which will be higher interest rates.
































































































































































































































Annual Avgs:













Tax Credit Ending
==>>Homebuyer Tax Credit Quickly Approaching

Buyers must be Under Contract by April 30th, 2010 and Close by June 30th, 2010 to qualify for the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit and the Repeat Buyer Tax Credit.
This will be here before we know it and with the increase activity in the housing market under $500,000 it may become harder to find the right house for your buyers.
For frequently asked questions visit the website www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com

Sunday, January 24, 2010
FHA 90-Day Seasoning Rule Lifted!
Great News for Denver
Homebuyers & Investors

The Federal government is taking action to speed the housing market recovery by lifting the FHA 90-Day Seasoning Rule with the hopes that it will speed the resale of foreclosed properties. This is great news for Denver homebuyers (especially first-time buyers) and investors, who up until now, have been required to wait at least 90 days after the previous sale date before being able to close with any buyer who has an FHA-backed mortgage.

Originally, the Department of Housing and Urban Development enacted the regulation in an effort to discourage investors who were flipping houses and driving up prices during the housing market boom a few years ago. However, the rule’s unintended effect in today’s market has been to reduce the options of first-time buyers who already are competing for a shrunken supply of homes for sale.

Announced on January 15th, the one-year moratorium on the “anti-flipping” rule will begin on Feb. 1st. Affectively, this will open a new pool of homes to first-time homebuyers. It will also give buyers access to a broader array of recently foreclosed properties. As an added bonus, it is not expected that this will have much effect on home prices, further stabilizing the housing market.

Many investors are thrilled because opening up their business to FHA buyers means they can now sell to anybody. That hasn’t always been the case, and FHA buyers have often been left out of finding affordable homes that are move-in ready. Today, next to FHA buyers, cash buyers make up much of the rest of the active market, and many of them are speculators and investors. This new rule will connect the two groups.

The new guidelines do require that investors who are reselling a home do not profit more than 20 percent above their purchase cost, but those limits are excepted if an independent appraiser confirms that renovations and repairs justify the higher price.

It is expected that the suspension of this 90-day rule will grow the number of transactions in coming months, and that will be good for our nation’s communities, as well as the real estate market in the Denver area. More buyers for investors will motivate investors to buy and renovate more houses, which will serve to move the market forward.

Friday, January 8, 2010
It is a New Year, but is it a new housing market?
We’ve all been reading the conflicting headlines. Some say 2010 will have its challenges. Others say 2010 will be the start of good things to come. But what’s the truth? How can we read through the pessimism and for that matter, the rose colored glasses, to determine what is the truth?

Well, as we all know, only time will truly tell.

* Overall, 2010 will be the year we begin to build a foundation. Many experts are predicting that the recession is nearly complete, if it isn’t already as measured by a decline in negative growth. But the recovery is going to depend on stimulus spending and doing more to facilitate job growth. As Leslie Appleton Young said, “If we don’t create more direct policies to get people back to work, this could go on much long.”

* Let’s start with foreclosures.  We have a lot of work ahead of us and much of that has to do with the state of the overall economy. Unemployment is still high and while I think we’re better, we’re not healed. The latest U.S. Bureau of Unemployment Figures show that unemployment rates were higher in November 2009 than for the same period in 2008 in all 372 metropolitan areas. What happens when people lose their jobs? They typically aren’t able to pay their mortgages. There are also many people out there with adjustable rate mortgages that just haven’t yet adjusted. If the government doesn’t step in and those mortgages adjust, many people will find themselves in a short sale or foreclosure situation. Fortunately the good news is that the government is putting more pressure on the banks to work with homeowners and my hope is that if that, combined with the government’s own work to help homeowners in trouble, I think we’re on a better path with these foreclosures than we were a year ago.
* Interest rates. There are a lot of schools of thoughts with relation to the future of interest rates. I tend to agree with many economists who believe that last year’s record low interest rates, where some were able to secure a 30 year fixed rate mortgage for under 5%, may be a thing of the past. Do I see them taking a surge in 2010? No, probably not. CNBC Reporter Diana Olick wrote, “Unless the government decides to extend its Fannie-Freddie purchase program or do something else to juice the credit markets, mortgage rates will rise steadily, probably leveling off somewhere around six percent” and I tend to agree with that philosophy. Still a good place to be.
* The hottest market? The entry level market is by and large the hottest segment of the housing market right now and in all honesty, probably will continue to be in 2010. But, it was also the first to experience the downturn so it is certainly easy to suspect that it would be the first to recover. What we know about the entry level market is this:
o Homes saw a great deal of depreciation in this market
o This market was most affected by foreclosures and short sales
o Affordability is especially high in this market
o The inventory is low in the entry level market in many areas

I don’t see much of this changing in 2010.

I do see a trickle affect coming from the entry level market into the move-up market. Many homeowners are looking to take advantage of the $6,500 existing homeowner tax credit as well as the opportunity to cash in on a buyer’s market in the entry level and a seller’s market in the move-up region. It really is a perfect storm for this group and I hope more move-up buyers will consider that.

The luxury market is a very different market indeed. It was the last to be affected by the market changes and in all likelihood it will be the last to recover. Having said that, there are some very interesting pockets of success. It really depends on the house, the neighborhood and the overall demand for that market. We’ve seen instances where a million dollar home comes on the market only to be snatched up within a few days. Then, others, just sit. It really comes down to what the market will bear.

In the end, regardless of what the market may or may not be in the coming year, the bottom line is, it may be a really great time to buy. Attractive interest rates. Increased affordability. Tax credits. Higher inventories in some market. In many instances, there hasn’t been a better opportunity to buy in decades. Please don’t lose sight of that. If you are in a position to buy and are considering do so, please do explore your options. I believe 2010 will be a year of building a solid foundation on which to build. Don’t wait until it is too late.

 Denver Post, January 8, 2010  Denver Area Homes Resales Drop 12%

, December 17, 2009
Happy Holidays and a Look Ahead
The following are excerpts from the Business Week article entitled “A Housing Recovery Could Solidify.

“Residential real estate prices have increased by about 5%, adjusted for inflation, since the end of the first quarter. As the inventory of existing homes for sale shrinks, a housing recovery could solidify. Sales have increased sharply in some of the hardest-hit states.

In Most of America, Home Prices Creep Up - A Lost Decade
Although home prices have been rising since March, after adjusting for inflation they are only at levels first reached in 2001.

Fewer New-Home Sales
Existing homes now make up about 93% of all sales, vs. a long-term historical average of about 85%.

Signs of Life in the Sunbelt—and Elsewhere

Four states—Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and California—have seen double-digit increases in sales volumes for existing homes since the end of 2008.”

So what does this mean and more importantly, the question of the day from so many of you is, what’s next? While we probably are not out of the woods yet, housing is showing signs of stability, markets are showing signs of rational behavior and everyone is starting to understand the fundamental problems that brought us here. I think the combination of those have us on the right path. Are we going to suddenly see double digit appreciation in 2010? Probably not. But I think we are on a good, sustainable path that should give us some modest growth in the coming year, largely in the most sought after affordable and mid-level markets. In terms of the luxury market, I think only time will tell. It was the last to feel the downturn and in all likelihood it will be the last to recover. Knowing this, it is important to point out that there are always pockets that are the exception. Real estate is local and there are always going to be those sought after neighborhoods, those one-of-a-kind properties, that just demand something different. What I can assure you is that over the next year I’ll be watching the market closely and will keep you abreast of changes as they happen.

Monday, December 7, 2009
A Year in Review and 2010: A Real Estate Forecast
After enduring three years of a declining real estate market, 2009 brought a much needed break for the hard hit real estate sector. Driven largely in part by the economic stimulus that helped the housing market emerge from the recession, it leaves many of us wondering what is next for real estate. Will housing prices rebound? Will the new extended and expanded tax credit be just what the doctor ordered? Will the luxury market recover similarly to the entry level? I recently sat down with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage President Chris Mygatt to answer these questions and more as we discussed the 2009 housing market and what we may expect in 2010.

How would you say the housing market faired in 2009? Did it live up to your expectations or falter?

“Although it was a challenging year, I believe that it ended up being a year of stability. It was a year of transition in many of our markets. We bounced along a rough bottom but at the same time, we are really prepared for a modest and consistent improvement. The second half of 2009 was when we finally saw a jumpstart. I think that really stems from consumer confidence. At the end of the day, what drives affordability is confidence. Does a buyer feel confident in his/her employment and finances? If so, then buying a home is typically a good option. Another way that the government is reinforcing the viability of buying a home is by offering the tax credit.“

Do you feel the tax credit was an important factor in the market turnaround?

“Undoubtedly, the tax credit was an important factor in our market’s turnaround. We didn’t really know this for sure until we started looking at the number of closed escrows in September, October and November. The number of properties that went under contract increased as we grew closer to November 30th, the original expiration date for that tax credit. It was a very clear indication that once potential buyers realized they might miss out on the $8,000, tax credit if they did not move quickly, many buyers got off the fence and began to act. The number of property showings was up. The number of properties that were sold was up. Then, we saw the extension of the tax credit and we saw yet another market adjustment. I wouldn’t say that the market has been slowing, but there has been a softening of the frenzy. I think as buyers near the new expiration date of April 30, 2010 that they will once again begin to act.”

Do you think the extended and expanded tax credit will solidify our market recovery?

“Certainly the increased activity that we’ve had in the lower end market has been good; but in and of itself it probably will not create a market-wide recovery. To have a market- wide recovery, we have to be able to engage the move-up buyer. We have to remind the move-up buyer that now may be the best time in our history to step up to the higher priced homes. The new tax credit that provides existing home owners with a $6,500 tax credit is certainly helpful but many buyers need more than just a tax credit. They need to have the courage to step up in today’s market. Those who do, may reap the best benefits. The fact is, you probably have never gotten as much value, thanks to interest rates and given what you’re earning, as you have in today’s market. Six months to a year from now, we probably won’t be able to say the same. We are certainly recognizing that the tax credit is a great thing. But it isn’t compelling enough if a potential buyer isn’t confident in his/her finances or future employment. For those who are confident, the tax credit should serve as a clear and convincing message that now may be a great time to move-up.”

Why is it such a great time to move-up?

“It’s all about the power of leverage. The fact is that in most markets, inventory is very low in the low priced home range. So buyers in that market are often competing against other buyers for the same home making it more of a seller’s market. However, it is a buyer’s market in the mid-level and upper end markets so you truly get the best of both worlds when you choose to move-up.”

There is a lot of talk about the impact of inflation. Do you think people should be concerned about it?

“Certainly people need to be aware that inflation is very likely. The government has devoted a great deal of money to stimulate our economy and in order to strengthen our dollar over time, inflation will be likely. With inflation comes higher interest rates and ultimately less buying power for a home buyer. But it all goes back to maximizing your opportunities now, in today’s market. For those who have made a fortune in their lifetime, they were always looking at the opportunity, today. In order to do so, you must sell where the market segment is strong and buy where the market segment is weak. Today that opportunity resides with the move-up buyer.

“Another important fact to note is how advantageous interest rates are right now. Some buyers are able to qualify for 30-year fixed mortgages at under 5%.”

Do you think we’ve hit bottom?

“I think in many communities we probably have hit bottom. We are seeing statistical evidence of it in the average sale price and in the number of homes sold. Interestingly (and I think this may be contrary to what most people believe), the communities that may have hit bottom are not necessarily those that were hardest hit by foreclosures. The communities that are strongest today are those that are clearly most desirable. When the market gets soft, the people who in previous markets couldn’t afford their first choice market had to settle for their second or third choices. But thanks to the opportunities in today’s market, they are better able to buy into their first choice communities and neighborhoods. It goes back to supply and demand. Those communities that have good schools, good local economies, diverse activities and, overall, are just considered more desirable places to live, are once again driving demand.”

What do you recommend to today’s home buyer?

“Buyers need to understand right now that the market is a little schizophrenic. You know it is probably the time to buy and you also know that the market has been challenged. But you may see that in certain markets, we’ve had lower prices and decreasing numbers of available homes for sale. In that type of area, you might expect to get a lower price than a year ago. But you also need to realize that the market is picking up and that in many markets, we’ve probably hit bottom. For example, if you want to be where the best schools, best hiking trails and best parks are, that will probably be where the best recoveries are likely to occur. To properly ride the wave, you should find the houses where people want to be. The problem is that if you wait a year, you’re probably going to run up against a lot of challenges: increased interest rates, increased buyer demand, and lower available housing inventory. The combination of those factors is what is creating more urgency in the more desirable markets today.”

What do you anticipate for real estate in 2010?

“What we’re going to see in 2010 is probably the more desirable neighborhoods seeing a modest increase in sales price and a decrease in the number of homes on the market. I predict that we are going to see an overall stabilization in the marketplace. We are probably going to see on the whole a slight increase of the average sales price of homes. We’re probably going to see a stabilization of the market. We probably won’t ever return to the sales levels of 2005 and 2006 because so many of those sales were artificially created. Fortunately, I believe that we are now on the right path toward modest, sustainable growth.”

When will the luxury market begin its turnaround?

“We should see a slight turnaround of the luxury housing market in 2010. We believe that it will be the last market to turnaround. It was the last market to experience a turn down and it will probably be the last market to experience an upturn. As business and the economy strengthen, we’ll once again see a more robust luxury market.

“The bottom line is there is a lot to be confident about in relation to the housing market: the tax credit; attractive interest rates; buyer demand in the entry level market; opportunities in the move-up buyer market; and sustainable growth. It all adds up to what we anticipate to be a very productive 2010.”

If you would like more information about the opportunities that are available in today’s housing market, please contact me today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009
Housing Stats and a Little Turkey Trot…Happy Thanksgiving!

Some good news was released this week from Fannie and Freddie: maximum loan limits will remain unchanged for 2010. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that the maximum conforming loan limits for mortgages originated in 2010 will remain unchanged from their 2009 numbers. The maximum loan limits for counties across the United States can be found here (116 pages).

The news in the media over the last two weeks has largely been about the potential benefits of the new expanded and extended home buyer tax credit which opens the doors for existing homeowners to take advantage of a $6,500 tax credit. There have certainly been quite a few articles regarding the tax credit over the last two weeks. I did come across an interesting article on Reuters.com which stated, “Up to 400,000 people bought a home for the first time due to the credit, boosting first-time buyers to a record 47 percent of sales over the past year, the National Association of Realtors has said. With the help of the credit, existing home sales will rise 2 percent this year and 13.6 in 2010, the group estimates.”

To say the least, 2009 was a very challenging year in real estate. The good news is that after a very rough 2008 and early 2009, we started to see a positive turn in the housing market as the year wore on, thanks in part to the first-time home buyer stimulus and indications that the economy was starting to improve. So now the big question of the day is, what will 2010 bring?

With the improvement we are seeing on Wall Street and the economic improvements we are seeing on a global scale, things seem to be moving in the right direction, which makes prospective home buyers feel more confident about their future and the home they may choose to buy. So much of our business is affected by consumer confidence.

Also on a positive note, the default notices are actually declining in Colorado.

But I would caution that we probably aren’t out of the woods as it relates to foreclosures. With unemployment figures still frighteningly high, there are still quite a few homeowners out there who are struggling with their payments. And now there is a great deal of evidence that it isn’t just in the entry level arena; it is also hitting the mid-level and luxury market, too.

The big question is when is the “shadow” inventory of already foreclosed homes going to be released, now that the government has lifted the moratoriums on foreclosures. Once we start to move through those properties, we should begin to see a better, more solid grounding for the real estate market.

For real estate, this feels like more of a long “L” shaped recovery than a “U” shape.

The fact is, we live in one of the most desirable regions in the world. Certainly we’ve taken our fair share of hits over the last three years, but our region’s desirability, economic vitality, culture, weather and overall market conditions make it a sought-after place to live. We generally have a much healthier economy. This, I believe will help drive our long, slow, modest recovery.

I am encouraged by the progress we are making in the real estate market. As we track sales activity, we are seeing more encouraging signs. Based on what we’re seeing, we’re estimating that we can expect sales to moderate to a more sustainable pace and we will probably see a modest rise in housing prices. Will it be the double digit appreciation we saw in the earlier part of the decade? Probably not. But this new normal is much more sustainable and a much healthier foundation to build upon. It makes me excited about the future and gives us all hope for a relatively modest and productive 2010.

Saturday, November 7, 2009
The Tax Credit Gets an Extension and an Expansion!
Existing Homeowners: Now’s Your Chance!

I am extremely pleased to share with you an exciting new tax credit, designed for first-time home buyers and existing homeowners.
The new bill calls for an incentive for existing homeowners who have owned their current homes at least five years, making them eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500 when they purchase a new home. First time homebuyers – or anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years – would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010 and close by June 30.
The credit is available for the purchase of principal homes costing $800,000 or less, meaning vacation homes are ineligible. The credit would be phased out for individuals with annual incomes above $125,000 and for joint filers with incomes above $225,000.
The credit would be extended an additional year, until June 30, 2011, for members of the military serving outside the United States for at least 90 days.
As an industry, we are certainly pleased about this new tax credit. The key to returning stability to the economy lies within the housing market, and this is a meaningful credit that will create a strong foundation for future growth and make a measurable difference over the next seven months in our economy.
Furthermore, tax credits like this only work by creating the sense of urgency to take advantage of them. This is said to be the last extension of the home buyer tax credit and I urge people – whether you’re a first time home buyer who has always dreamed of having a home of your own or someone who has been gridlocked in the challenges of our move-up market – to take advantage of this opportunity.
Now is the time! If you’d like to learn more, please contact me today.

Friday, October 30, 2009
It’s On The Table!

There’s no question. The government’s first-time homebuyer tax credit has spurred a significant amount of sales this year and its positive impact on the hard-hit housing market warrants an extension. Latest estimates show that some 400,000 additional sales occurred this year due to the first time home buyer tax credit, which is about 8% of all sales this year.

The latest news in the saga, The Senate has reached a compromise on extending and expanding the $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. While its passage remains uncertain, the agreement would extend the existing credit for first-time homebuyers, worth up to $8,000, while offering a new credit of up to $6,500 for some existing homeowners. The reduced credit would be available to all homeowners who have been in their current residence for a consecutive five-year period in the past eight years. Lawmakers in Washington also raised the qualifying income limits to $125,000 for single taxpayers and $250,000 for joint taxpayers, from the current $75,000 and $150,000. Under the Senate compromise, buyers must have sales agreements in hand by April 30, but they will have until June 30 to go to settlement, said the sources. The measure still faces votes in the full Senate and the House.

The U.S. Senate won’t vote until next week at the earliest. As soon as they do we intend to create a piece that will allow you to communicate the news to your clients.
Reports show that Senate action has been delayed by a Republican demand that a vote be allowed on an amendment to end the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program at the end of this year. But lawmakers say they want to prevent home sales from slipping as the economy struggles to recover. And as I mentioned in a previous edition of Weekly Market Watch, that is just what may happen if lawmakers choose to let the tax credit expire.

On the flip side, the Democrats, along with the Obama administration are backing it. “The success of the American economy is closely tied to the success of the housing market; by helping to stabilize the housing market, the homebuyer tax credit has helped to shore up the economy as it begins to recover,” said Baucus, a Montana Democrat. “This would enable an even greater number of potential homebuyers to take the credit.”

Thus far it seems to be doing its job. This week, Business Week reported “The broad improvement in the housing indicators in recent months leaves no doubt that the long-awaited housing recovery is finally under way.” The article went on to report: “Policy alone cannot explain the 24% gain in existing home sales since January, nor the 22% increase in new-home purchases, the 40% rise in single-family housing starts, and the recent upturn in home prices.
The primary driver is historically high affordability. Fixed 30-year mortgage rates are at 5%, a multi-decade low, and prices have plunged a total of 30% since May 2006, based on the Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Home Price Index. By that price gauge, homes are well undervalued relative to both rents and aftertax income.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009
“U.S. Economic Recovery on Track”

While we await the results of the possible expiration, extension or expansion of the $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit, one thing is for sure, the economy is moving forward in full force—which is driving consumer confidence. Earlier this week, Reuters.com ran a very interesting story on the U.S. economic recovery and the result was very encouraging. Among the story’s highlights:

* “The U.S. economy is firmly poised for a recovery from its deep recession but growth may be moderate and the job market will not revive immediately, senior White House aide Lawrence Summers predicted on Wednesday.”
* “On the economy, Summers said the $787 billion stimulus package and inventory rebuilding by businesses were among the “dominant drivers” lifting the economy.”
* “It will be some time before unemployment starts to decline. Once it declines it will take a long time to return to normal levels, given how elevated it is…The jobless rate is now at a 26-year high of 9.8 percent.”
* “Most private economists think the recession, which began in December 2007, ended in the third quarter. But there is much disagreement about the path to recovery.”
* “Some see above-average growth continuing through next year, arguing that deep recessions are typically followed by powerful recoveries, helped along by pent-up demand as consumers and companies resume spending.”

Obviously this is welcome news for the economy which ultimately benefits the local housing market. What I can tell you is that I am encouraged by the progress we are making in the real estate market. We’re beginning to see more days of progress than days of back stepping. We’re watching sales activity and consumer sentiment and we are expecting over the coming months a moderate to a more sustainable pace and we will probably see a modest rise in housing prices in the coming year. Will it be the double digit appreciation we saw in the earlier part of the decade? Probably not. But this new normal (as we’re calling it) is much more sustainable and a much healthier path to build upon. It makes me excited about the future and gives us all hope for a relatively modest and productive 2010.

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Recent Housing Upturn Sparked By Buyer Leverage

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller home price index reveals home price for 10 major cities rose 3.6 percent between April and July. So does this recent up tick in the housing market mean we are on the cusp of a housing boom?

Probably not, in all likelihood, the recent upturn in the housing market has been sparked by several competing factors:

· The impending expiration of the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit
· The recent up tick in the stock market
· Increased consumer confidence
· Continued low interest rates

Essentially, buyers are playing a leverage game. They’re watching the economic indicators and trying to determine the best time (for them) to buy. It seems many are now pulling the trigger which is causing sales figures and prices to go up.

Will it last? It’s tough to say. Right now we’re in a slightly unique position because some of the stimulus packages that the government instituted are working which may be causing a false front for the overall economy. The stock market is up. Consumer confidence is on the rise. The housing market is up. All of those are pointing to some current benefits in the market.
But, the fundamentals themselves haven’t changed. Foreclosures remain a major issue for our economy. And unemployment remains a major challenge. Until those two areas of the economy fully recovery, we may see continued economic volatility.

What I can say is I think the worst of the housing market’s problems are probably behind us. But the road ahead isn’t completely clear. One major factor that stands in our way is the impending expiration of the first time home buyer tax credit. This credit has helped to drive much of our recovery. But right now the debate on Capitol Hill continues and everyone is waiting to learn whether the credit will be extended, expanded or will it simply expire. Many on the opposing side believe it is too costly to finance. But NAR had this to say: “Each home sale pumps an additional $63,000 into the economy through related goods and services, so the benefits of extending and expanding the tax credit far outweigh the costs.”

If the opposing side gets their way and the credit simply expires, NAR had this to say: “All we can say for certain is sales will decline when the tax credit expires because we are not yet on a self-sustaining recovery path. It also raises a risk of a double-dip recession. Extending and expanding the tax credit is the best tool in our arsenal to encourage financially qualified buyers to stimulate the economy and help reduce the budget deficit.”

So there you have it. We’re in a state of flux as we await the results of the credit. As that debate continues, buyers seem to be leveraging today’s market advantages which is creating a welcome relief for our local market. Let’s just hope the leveraging opportunities continue.

Thursday, October 1, 2009
S&P Reports On The State of the Housing Market
One of the founders of what has really become the industry’s (and media’s) bible for real estate statistics and forecasts, S&P Case Shiller, recently participated in a Q&A about the state of the housing market. Robert Shiller, a Yale University economist, discussed the housing market and the implications of lower interest rates. I found it quite conservative yet insightful and in my opinion, on target with what is going on in today’s market.

That is why for this edition of Weekly Market Watch, I am going to provide you with an excerpt from his interview:

Is the slump in U.S. home prices bottoming out?

Shiller: The situation has definitely changed. With our numbers — the S&P/Case Shiller home price index — going up sharply. It looks like a major turnaround. We’ve been watching that for three months now, and we have some concern that it could be an aberration and temporary. But, at this point, it seems to be evident in just about every city in the U.S. That suggests it’s real. But it probably isn’t the beginning of a major boom, just because the economy is in such bad shape. There’s also a chance that it will reverse. It’s still only three months old, so it’s very hard to be sure at this point. The most likely scenario is that it won’t continue at this high rate of increase, but that it will neither go down a lot, nor up a lot.

So the index will move sideways for a while?

Shiller: Yes, for a while, meaning five years.

What are the main factors driving U.S. house prices? What could push them up, or cause another slump?

Shiller: The main factor is the world economic crisis and the efforts of governments around the world to stimulate the economy. Parts of those efforts have been directed at the housing market. In the U.S., there is an 8,000 dollar first-time home buyer’s tax credit which expires at the end of November. That’s a reason for concern, as it comes to an end. Also, the Federal Reserve has a plan to buy $1.25 trillion worth of mortgage-backed securities to support the housing market. They are most of the way through the program and anticipate phasing it out at some time in 2010 - that’s another thing that will go away. We’ve yet to see how the housing market will continue. Part of the problem is that people are buying now rather than later. When later comes, there could be a downturn in the market.

Is there an oversupply of houses in the U.S.?

Shiller: That’s been a problem. The inventory of unsold houses has been high, but has come down a bit. On top of that, there will be more foreclosures, more homes are going to be dumped on the market as people default. Now, that may show down as home prices will start going up again. But I suspect that this isn’t going to happen. Also, banks have more REO, or real estate owned, that they’re holding on to for the time being. But eventually those REOs are going to be dumped on the market. So that’s why it doesn’t look particularly encouraging from a supply consideration.

Turning to interest rates, which are at exceptionally low levels: Is there a risk that this eventually will cause irrational exuberance?

Shiller: There is always a risk of that. Those things are hard to predict. However it seems like the present time is least conducive to bubbles of any time. We’re in what some people call “pretend-and-extend” economy, which means that banks that have commercial loans are often extending those loans and pretending that the property is worth something. That’s because they don’t face reality. This kind of economy isn’t really suited to a beginning of a real bubble. Now, everything could change… It’s surprising how strong the residential, single-family home market looks right now. It makes me think that it’s hard to predict animal spirits.

Monday, August 31, 2009
So Much for a Sleepy Summer
Generally speaking the Colorado real estate market has seen a bit of a bounce this summer with sales increasing in all categories—from the entry level homes and condos to the high-end market.

National figures showed June with an 11% increase in home sales. But, realizing that a majority of the spring home inventory has been introduced, we may start to see a little slowdown in August/September as old inventory is taken off the market and a smaller surge of inventory arrives.

In other words, there is still  much recovery that needs to be taking place. Sellers still need to get a bit more realistic about price and buyers need to recognize a good bargain when they see it.

In general, most homes are on the market longer with discerning buyers waiting for the optimal home at the optimal price. A well-priced, well-presented home can still fetch multiple offers, but it’s got to look appealing to the savvy buyers who are doing their homework. There is no sense in overpricing a listing – a buyer won’t even give a home the time of day if they sense the seller is being unrealistic. Yet at the same time, there seems to be no better time to snatch up bargains in Colorado at all price points. We’re seeing five to 10 percent reductions in properties that are sitting on the market and in many cases the final offers are coming in below those reductions. That’s not to say buyers should throw out ridiculous numbers. Some sellers who don’t have to sell are holding firm, but time is running out for others. So, while it may take longer to get the buyer and seller to agree to terms, deals are happening and with open minds on both sides, we might start to see more positive movement for all.

For cash buyers or those with large (over 25%) down payments, now is a great time to pick up bargains in luxury homes. Sellers are still not giving away property but there are great deals available.

This week the National Association of Realtors released its monthly existing home sales report (http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2009/08/strong_uptrend?LID=RONav0021) noting “For the first time in five years, existing-home sales have increased for four months in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors®.”  The report went on to note, “Existing home sales – including single-family, town homes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.24 million units in July from a level of 4.89 million in June, and are 5.0 percent above the 4.99 million-unit pace in July 2008.  The last time sales rose for four consecutive months was in June 2004, and the last time sales were higher than a year earlier was November 2005.”

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he was encouraged. “The housing market has decisively turned for the better. A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions are contributing to higher sales,” he said.

Ultimately these are all very positive signs for our market and are a strong sign that we are moving in the right direction towards a housing recovery. Having said that, it’s important to keep things in perspective and not celebrate too soon. We all need to be realistic with our pricing, buyers and sellers.

A few other interesting articles of note for the week:

Home Prices On An Upswing In The Second Quarter Of 2009 According To The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices; Case-Shiller
New Home Sales Blast Past Expectations; CNNMoney.com
The Housing Market: Has It Turned the Corner?; TIME Magazine
Mortgage Applications Increase In Latest MBA Weekly Survey; Mortgage Bankers Association
Home Market Shows Signs of Life as Declines Slow; Bloomberg

Housing Markets Most Likely to Rebound, Denver #1

day, August 21, 2009
Good News On Wall Street Doesn’t (Necessarily) Mean Higher Housing Prices on Main Street
Academically speaking, there is a belief that there is a direct correlation between the housing market and the stock market.  But from an analytical standpoint, although the stock market and the housing market correlate well, there is a variable time lag.  The time lag between housing underperformance and stock market performance can vary widely. The average is 18 months.

What we’re seeing, in some instances, is that some of the upper-tier clients are saying no to potential deals as they think if they wait another four to six months (thanks to the stock market’s recent gains) they may get more for their home. And while I understand the reasoning, I would caution sellers on this strategy. First, what we know is that in a “normal” market (of which this market is anything but), the average lag time between the two is 18 months (not four to six months). It’s also important to point out that we probably aren’t out of the woods as it relates to the volatility in the stock market.  Many analysts are suggesting that our recovery will be “W” shaped rather than “V” so we may be looking at more changes ahead. 

So while I understand the logic, I would caution sellers on this strategy and would ask them to focus less on the stock market and more on the level of supply and demand in their market and in their neighborhoods.  In most markets, the upper-tier price point remains relatively soft so sellers should consider most deals that are presented to them.  That’s not to say buyers should be throwing out unrealistic offers.  The real story here is that across the board we’re starting to see increases in interest and buyer activity so sellers may want to consider taking advantage of that interest…before it’s too late.

For those who are focused on the stock market, my best advice to you is to look at it more as an indicator for the economy as a whole. With the DOW closing Thursday at just over 9,300, it may not be making housing prices go up, but it may mean that the recession is subsiding which is good news for us all.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
They’re Saying The Worst is Behind Us…But Is It Too Soon to Celebrate?
NYtime.com website “Almost exactly two years after it embarked on what was the biggest financial rescue in American history, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday that the recession is ending and that it would take a step back toward normal policy.”
 http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/13/business/economy/13fed.html?_r=2&partner=rss&emc=rss&src=igw .

The article goes on to note “Though the central bank stopped well short of declaring victory, policy makers issue their most upbeat assessment in more than a year by saying that the downturn appears to have hit bottom and that consumer spending, financial markets and inventory building by corporations all continued to stabilize.”

Having said that, here is what we tend to be seeing about the market:

•It does appear that the worst of the recession may be behind us.
•In all likelihood, the Fed is going to keep rates relatively low well into next year by continuing to purchase mortgage backed securities and keep the Federal Funds Rate close to zero. It is currently at .25%.
•In terms of conforming loan limits, as of right now, the higher conforming loan limits will end at the end of this year. There is some legislation that is pending to renew the higher loan amount through until November 2010 but as of right now, that is pending. The same holds true for the first-time home buyer tax credit.
Knowing this, what lies ahead? Well I would say it’s positive to know that the worst may be behind us, but in all likelihood there are still challenges ahead. There is still much recovery that needs to take place, so neither sellers nor buyers should be getting too excited with the news. Sellers still need to get a bit more realistic about price and buyers need to recognize a bargain when they see it.

, August 11, 2009
One Good Week of News Leads to Another

Following last week’s breaking housing news which revealed that based on the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Schiller 20-city index, home prices in May posted their first monthly increase since the summer of 2006.

The news followed reports showing sales of newly built and existing homes rose in June for the third consecutive month. New home construction, though still weak, is the best it has been since the fall.

Well this week the good news continued. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 31, 2009 showcasing an increase in mortgage loan application volume of 4.4 percent from the week earlier. On an adjusted basis, the Index increased 4.1 percent compared with the previous week and 18 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.

The Refinance Index increased 7.2 percent from the previous week. The Index has climbed about 35 percent above its recent low at the end of June. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 0.9 percent from one week earlier.

Also interesting to note is this week’s release of the National Association of Realtors’ Pending Home Sales Index in which it revealed an increase of 3.6% during the month. That was 6.7% higher than June 2008. It was the fifth straight month of increases, the first time that has happened since July 2003. The jump was much higher than expected with a consensus of industry experts put together by Briefing.com forecasting an increase of just 0.7%.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say, “Historically low mortgage interest rates, affordable home prices and large selection are encouraging buyers who’ve been on the sidelines.” It seems all of these incentives, much like the Cash for Clunkers program, is finally pushing people off of the fence."

, August 1, 2009
It was a positive week for our industry. It seemed everywhere you looked, the media was reporting on some sort of positive indicator relating to the real estate market rebound. It seems this week, the answer to the question is much clearer.

For starters, Good Morning America ran a very good interview on Tuesday about the state of the housing market. Liz Ann Sanders, the Chief Investment Strategist for Charles Schwab was interviewed. Essentially what she said was that we are in the process of bottoming out and “you have to go through less bad on your way to good.” As I’ve said in my weekly updates, we’re seeing pockets of significant strength and the housing market is really showing signs of recovery.

Our industry was the first to be hit by the market downturn and if all continues on this path, we will be the first out.  The turnaround won’t be happening overnight. We probably won’t see housing numbers start to appreciate anytime soon. But what we can relish in is Sanders’ conservative viewpoint that “we have to see less bad for a while before we start to see some real positive gains.” What we have right now is the bottoming out of our market. Speculators and investors are competing with first time home buyers. Those individuals are going to continue to gobble up the inventory—both REOs and regular, now much more affordable starter homes. As we see this inventory deteriorate (again, over time), we will continue to see that trickle into our mid-level and upper-end price ranges.

Also interesting to note this week was the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Schiller 20-city index was released and in it, home prices in May posted their first monthly increase since the summer of 2006. Prices rose from April in 13 of the metro areas tracked, notably Cleveland, Dallas, Boston and the Bay Area.

The news followed reports showing sales of newly built and existing homes rose in June for the third consecutive month. New home construction, though still weak, is the best it’s been since the fall.

Although the index is rising nationally and locally, I would caution that this doesn’t necessarily apply to homes across the board. For the most part, the local gains are reflected more in the low-end side of the market, though we are showing signs of improvement in the mid and upper end.

The 20-city home price index rose 0.5 percent from April to a reading of 139.8, but it was still 17.1 percent below the reading of 168.6 in May a year ago. It was the fourth consecutive month that the index indicated prices have turned the corner and are heading back toward positive territory.

, July 23, 2009
Existing Home Sales Up For Third Straight Month
The Question of the Day: Have We Bottomed Out?

Some are calling it the sign that we have hit bottom and are on our way back up. Others are calling it a blip on the screen. Whatever your take, NAR released Thursday its existing home sales report which showed three key, positive indicators regarding the housing sector:

• For the third consecutive month, existing home sales rose
• Inventory is easing
• Home prices declined less sharply in June

The report noted, “Existing home sales…increased 3.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million units in June from a downwardly revised pace of 4.72 million in May, but are 0.2 percent
lower than the 4.9 million-unit level in June 2008.

The report also revealed, “Total housing inventory at the end of June fell 0.7 percent to 3.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 9.4 month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 9.8 month supply in May. Raw inventory totals are 14.9 percent below a year ago.”

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday a look at 28 major real estate markets and where they are headed. The results http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/retro-HAGERTY.html were interesting for Denver:

• A 19.6% decline in housing inventory (from a year ago)
• We are currently at a 6.1 month supply
• We’ve seen an 8.3% drop in price since the peak

Also interesting to note this week is the fact that Denver was named the No. 1 city where Americans are relocating, according to Forbes.com http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/30/americans-moving-cities-lifestyle-real-estate-relocating.html?partner=email  

Among the highlights of the story:

• Population increased by 2.17% in 2008; it increased 2.09% in 2007
• Denver was the 10th fastest growing metro area in the United States
• Denver is the most popular city in America; people like it for its skiing, culture and vibrant nightlife as well as its business opportunities
• As of January 2009, the metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.5%; that’s high but still two percentage points below the national average of 8.5% for the same month

What all of this leads us to believe is despite some of the challenges we continue to face nationally and globally, the domestic housing market continues to demonstrate signs of recovery. The temporary first-helping people make a decision and is contributing to the overall stimulus impact.

Are we out of the woods yet? It’s tough to say but the signs are encouraging and three months of continued increases in home sales are a positive sign that we may be on the road to recovery.

, July 16, 2009
Realtor.com Survey Tells A Lot About Today’s Housing Market
Earlier this week, Realtor.com released a survey discussing what is motivating buyers in today’s market. It was an interesting read and I thought I’d share the highlights:

•“Price declines and low interest rates are motivating millions of home buyers to shop for bargains in the most affordable housing market in 28 years, yet at the same time only one in ten of today’s home owners say they have delayed selling their home due to those same market conditions.”
•“Affordability is clearly driving more than two thirds (65.2%) of potential buyers back into today’s housing market. Nearly one of five prospective buyers (19.6%) say foreclosure bargains in their communities would motivate them to purchase a home, the most important reason they’re interested in buying in the near future.”
•“An additional 15.5 percent said they’re motivated to buy soon because they think prices are as low as they will go and another 15.5 percent said they were motivated to buy before interest rates rise. For 14.6 percent of first time home buyers, the Federal $8,000 tax credit is the impetus to purchase a new home in the future.”
•“The survey also found most Americans are not aware of how affordable homes are becoming in today's fast-changing housing market. More than three-quarters (76.4%) of consumers think a median income family can afford only 50 percent or fewer of the homes for sale in their area. However, in reality, a family earning the national median income of $53,182 can afford nearly 75 percent of the current homes for sale on Realtor.com.”
•“In the past year, the Housing Affordability Index maintained by the National Association of Realtors has increased 29 percent overall and 19 percent for first-time homebuyers, and is higher now than at any time in the 28 year history of the index.”
"Value is clearly motivating potential home buyers, and today's new level of affordability is still an under-appreciated reality that needs to be explored," said REALTOR.com President, Errol Samuelson. "The variety and quality of homes currently within reach of the average American family is much greater than most people realize. Making credit available to responsible borrowers and building consumer confidence in the economy are now key factors in restoring vitality to the nation's housing market."

In other interesting news this week, for the second consecutive month, Denver fared the best among 20 U.S. cities reporting drops in home prices, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case home-price index for 20 major cities dropped 18.1 percent in April compared with April 2008.

Denver reported a 4.9 percent decline, better than Dallas and Boston, which were down 5 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.

"This was the least painful decline in the last six or seven months," said economist Jeff Thredgold of Vectra Bank Colorado. "There is still some additional weakness to come, but most of the pain is behind us."

Also interesting to note, as the Denver Business Journal reported, “Home prices in Denver increased for the second consecutive month and show the lowest year-over-year decline of the 20 cities included in the closely watched S&P/Case-Schiller index.”

, June 26, 2009
Denver Named One of the Best Places to Buy a Home…Now!
Forbes Magazine released this week its “In Depth: Best Cities to Buy a Home” feature in which the magazine highlights cities with the best real estate deals. Click here to access the article:
http://www.forbes.com/2009/06/22/cities-deals-home-lifestyle-real-estate-home-buying.html .
Among other large cities, Denver was listed with the magazine noting that “While the majority of the nation’s housing markets are still working toward a bottom, some cities are boasting fundamentals that make them good places to buy a home now.” In addition to Denver, Los Angeles, Boston, Phoenix and San Diego were listed.
To determine which cities feature the best real estate deals, the magazine “looked at three sets of data in the March 2009 RPX Monthly Housing Market Report, distributed by Radar Logic Incorporated, a New York-based derivatives firm. It looks at the market fundamentals in the country’s 25 most populated metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs or metros), geographic entities defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget used by federal agencies in collecting, tabulating and publishing federal statistics. First, we examined the number of ZIP codes with 25% of the area's sales to determine those in which activity is most evenly distributed. Next, we examined increase and decrease in price per square footage to determine where market value is the highest. Last, we looked at transaction rates in each city to determine where the housing markets are most active. We scored each city by category, and then combined the scores to determine the final ranking.”

Here’s what the article reported:
 “1. Denver, Colo.
PPSF Increase or Decrease
March 2009 vs. Feb. 2009: 5.7%
Transaction Increase or Decrease
March 2009 vs. March 2008: -8.4%
Percentage of ZIP Codes with 25% of Sales: 25%”

Also this week, the National Association of Realtors released its existing home sales report which noted that existing home sales rose for the second straight month in May, signaling low prices and incentives are attracting buyers.

NAR says existing home sales, including single family homes, condos and coops rose 2.4 percent in May. It was the first back-to-back monthly gain in existing home sales since September 2005.

Sales of existing homes rose for the second straight month in May, signaling low prices and incentives are attracting buyers.  NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun had this to say, “Historically low mortgage rates clearly drew buyers into the market, and housing remains very affordable even with a recent up tick in rates. First time buyers are also being drawn off the sidelines by the $8,000 tax credit which is helping to absorb inventory.”
The numbers could be even better if it weren’t for poor appraisals. While pending sales of existing homes—those with signed contracts but not closed—indicate stronger activity, some contracts are falling through from faulty valuations that keep buyers from getting a loan, said Yun.
Locally we made some great headlines this week, especially with the Denver Business Journal’s story headlined “Home prices in mountain states up 1.3% outpacing nation.”
The article reported, “Housing prices in Colorado and other mountain states rose 1.3 percent in April from the previous month, the biggest increase of any region of the nation, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported Tuesday.”

Monday, June 12, 2009
Reinvigorating the Housing Market

This week there were some exciting change of events going on with the government regarding a positive development for the real estate industry. Specifically, the Business Roundtable (an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. corporations)—issued a set of recommendations for the White House and Congress that are aimed at jump starting the housing market in order to stimulate a broader economic recovery.

The Business Roundtable’s recommendations are as follows:

• Keep mortgage interest rates at historically low levels (below 5 percent) for at least one year;
• Expand the current First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit incentive from the lesser of 10 percent of the purchase price of the home or $8,000 to a higher limit of either 10 percent or $15,000 for all homebuyers, remove the income restrictions and include all primary residence purchases for one full year;
• Conduct a thorough review of current foreclosure mitigation and loan-modification programs in light of rising loan-modification re-default rates;
• Make permanent the current temporary conforming loan limits; and
• Continue to review and strengthen government efforts already underway to review and refine mortgage lending practices.

Targeted, demand-side solutions—such as the ones Business Roundtable is recommending—will provide a critical next step for a housing recovery that will help create jobs and boost the economy as a whole. To obtain a copy of the Business Roundtable press release and its Housing Working Group’s detailed recommendations, click here  http://businessroundtable.org/initiatives/leadership/housing_working_group . To read an article that appeared in today’s online edition of The Wall Street Journal containing an interview about the Business Roundtable’s recommendations and why they are crucial to jumpstarting the housing market, click here http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124460195604101021.html .

Monday, June 8, 2009
Activity In the Entry Level and Mid-Level Markets Continues to Rise…For the Entry Level Buyer, Are Bidding Wars Back?

Now that school is almost out, we’re finding many families are starting to look at homes in anticipation of getting settled prior to next school year. Showing activity, in many markets, has increased considerably.

Sellers are now getting their homes on the market and, in general, seem to be quite knowledgeable regarding staging and pricing. The homes in the entry-level market, for the most part, are moving well if they are in good condition and fairly and competitively priced. Several Agents whose clients’ listings are in the entry level market are reporting that they have had buyers lose out on homes in bidding wars. The competition for well priced homes in good condition is heating up and we are seeing multiple offer situations in most of our first time home buyer markets.

Though we have seen sporadic increases in the upper end market, it is still relatively slow on showings and closings but we do anticipate that that sector will loosen somewhat if the economic news continues to show some stabilization and an upswing.

Friday, May 29, 2009
Memorial Day is Over…Soon-to-be-Summer Selling Season Off to a Good Start
With Memorial Day behind us and the busy summer selling season about to begin, some interesting trends are landing in our laps.

First, NAR this week announced that existing home sales rose in April with strong buyer activity, in, as expected, the lower price ranges. Nationally, existing home sales increased 2.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.68 million units in April from a downwardly revised pace of 4.55 million units in March, but were 3.5 percent below that 4.85 million-unit level in April 2008.

Most of the sales are taking place in lower price ranges but in a positive trend, we are seeing increased activity in the mid-price ranges. This is all a domino effect. A turnaround begins with the lower price range homes and once that sector of the market is stabilized, we begin to see changes in the mid and upper price ranges. The upper end, though we have seen increased activity, still is slow but we fully anticipate that this will change over time, too.

Two local articles of interest this week:

• Denver Business Journal: S&P: Denver existing home prices outperform other cities http://www.bizjournals.com/denver/stories/2009/05/25/daily15.html

• Denver Post: Metro Home Slide Not Off Click http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_12455302

Thursday, May 21, 2009 
NAR Announces Housing Affordability Highest in 18 Years
This is one of the best times to purchase a home in decades.  Well this week the National Association of Realtors underscored that fact with the release that nationwide housing affordability jumped 10 percentage points during the first quarter of 2009 to its highest level since the series began 18 years ago, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI).  The HOI showed that 72.5% of all new and existing homes sold in the first quarter of 2009 were affordable to families earning the national median income of $64,000, up from 62.4% during the previous quarter and up from 53.8% during the first quarter of 2008.

For complete details on the report, click here:  http://www.nahb.org/page.aspx/category/sectionID=135

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 
Denver tops on 'Today' show list of cities poised for real-estate rebound
Denver Business Journal
- by Mark Harden

Denver was named America's No. 1 city on the verge of recovery from the real-estate slump in a segment Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Real estate expert Barbara Corcoran, a regular guest on the show, said Denver more than any other U.S. city is "clearly on a rebound."

"It's really the perfect real estate success story," she said. "It had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the nation for years running, and now they've cut that foreclosure rate in half and they've turned the corner."

Denver, Corcoran said, has "a vibrant downtown, it has a high employment base, it has educated people, it has youth, [and] it has one of the biggest park systems in the country.

"Everything about Denver is pointing up, up up," she added. "Prices are moving up just now for the first time after seven years."

Rounding out Corcoran's list of cities poised for a real-estate rebound:
2. Raleigh, N.C.
3. Austin, Texas
4. Seattle
5. San Francisco

Corcoran said she included cities on her list on the basis of eight factors:
Job growth potential;
A growing population;
Good weather;
Lots of first-time buyers;
No overbuilding;
vital downtown;
A well educated population; and
Foreclosures earlier than other cities.

Stress Test Reveals There's More Work to be Done  May 8, 2009
Stress Test Reveals There’s More Work to Be Done By the Banks But The Local Real Estate Market Continues to Thrive!

This week the results of the long-awaited Stress Test on the banks were released. What the government hoped to accomplish through this Stress Test was to determine how much more capital the banking sector would need to withstand the recession—much of which was caused by residential mortgages and other consumer loans such as credit cards. The result was that 10 of the nation’s 19 largest banks will need to raise a total of $74.6 billion in capital. The Stress Test revealed that banks like Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan seemed to be better positioned than Citigroup and Bank of America.

At this point, according to Kiplinger, “The stronger banks will actively do what they can to return any money borrowed from the government to get out from under restrictions on dividends and executive compensation. Their ability to sell common stock to the public is far better than their weaker counterparts, who may have to privately sell stock to investors or raise capital with so-called mandatory convertible preferred shares.”

According to industry analysts, it seems that until the banks get back on their feet, credit will continue to be tight. That leaves the Federal Reserve responsible for filling in the gaps with its own lending programs aimed at jump-starting lending.

On a brighter note, however, the real estate sector of our economy continues to show some positive signs—a good symbol that the programs that the government has put in place are helping. USA Today reported earlier this week that “More homes for sale are attracting multiple offers as buyers pursue lower-price homes and banks low-ball asking prices to attract competing bids on foreclosures.” It’s exactly what we’ve seen locally.

Here are some links to some interesting, positive news stories from the week:

• USA Today: More homes get multiple offers; downturn may be nearing end (http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-05-05-foreclosure-home-sales_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip)
• Business Week: Want to Sell Your Home? Lower Your Price http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/may2009/bw2009055_075566.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index+-+temp_news+%2B+analysis)     
• RISMedia: Relocation.com Survey Shows Consumers Moving Further Due to Economy (http://rismedia.com/2009-05-05/relocationcom-survey-shows-consumers-moving-further-due-to-economy/)  – This is a good reminder to consumers on why they should choose an Agent who is affiliated with a large, global real estate company that has the breadth and influence to reach the largest pool of buyers.
• NYTimes: Where Home Prices Crashed Early, Signs of a Recovery (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/business/economy/05turnaround.html?_r=2&hp
• Realty Times: Real Estate Outlook: Sales Rising in Some Areas (http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20090505_realestateoutlook.htm)

Housing Sales Rebound
  May 5, 2009
Pending homes sales nationwide rose an unexpected 3.2% in March.  Apparently the low rates and tax credit for first time buyers are creating traction.  In addition, construction spending rose .3%.  Although this was mainly due to government projects it was the first increase in 6 months.  Lastly, Fed Chairman Bernanke suggested in Congressional testimony today, that he expects the economy to turn positive late this year.  However he cautioned growth would remain sluggish for quite some time.

Is the End Near? 
April 30, 2009
Mortgage rates continue to average well below 5 percent – 4.7 percent last week on average for 30-year fixed rate loans and 4.5 percent for 15 year loans. Rates like these are a major factor pushing applications.

Nearly 600,000 home buyers have already claimed either the $7,500 tax credit from last year or the $8,000 credit for this year, according to IRS data cited by the National Association of Home Builders.

Also of interest, new home sales have been showing signs of improvement. Last week the Commerce Department reported that March sales were off just 0.6 percent, exceeding analysts’ expectations, after climbing in February.

In other positive trends, interestingly enough, The Wall Street Journal reported this week, “Analysts say: The end (of declines) is near. While new home sales show signs of stabilizing as builders cut back on building and boom-bloated inventories are slowly absorbed, prices of both new and existing homes are still being dragged down by a flood of foreclosures. Still, the experts were optimistic that the federal government's efforts to stem foreclosures eventually will have an effect by the end of this year or early next year; Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's www.Economy.com,  even ventured (jokingly) a date when home prices would stop falling—December 15, 2009.”

==>>Prices cut on 1 in 5 homes  April 24, 2009 Denver Post

April 23, 2009
The National Association of Realtors said Thursday that home sales fell 3% in March from February, to an annual rate of 4.57 million, from a downwardly revised pace of 4.71 million units in February. Sales had been expected to fall to an annual pace of 4.7 million units, according to Thomson Reuters. http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/housing/2009-04-23-existing-home-sales_N.htm?csp=usat.me

First Time Home Buyers are Finally Fueling the Come Back!

The share of lower priced home sales have trended up, indicating a return of many first-time buyers. Sales in the upper price ranges remain stalled but there are two reasons for this. First, jumbo loans still are difficult to obtain right now—though that may change in the second and third quarters thanks to the government’s work to restore this—and second, now that first time home buyers are once again entering the market, it will take some time for the domino effect to take shape onto other price ranges.

Another interesting note, the Mortgage Bankers Association this week released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 17. The index showed an increase of 5.3 percent from the previous week and that was a 76.9 percent increase compared with the same week a year ago. Yes, 76.9, that’s not a typo.

Whatever you think about what our government is doing to revive our economy, it seems some of the early work like the first time home buyer tax credit is working. Earlier this week Inman News reported that the preliminary numbers from the IRS suggest 1.4 million taxpayers will claim the federal first-time home buyer tax credit on their 2008 tax returns, meaning the program is likely to meet or exceed the 2 million target set by lawmakers before it ends November 30, 2009.

Finally and I think this is probably most notable, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that prices have fallen back into line with what the typical household can afford to pay in most of the U.S. The report showed that home prices are dubbed “fairly” valued in 202 of the 330 markets studied. That means the average price level is within a band 14% above or below the historical norm. Twenty-one markets are “overvalued” or between 14% and 34% above the norm. And 106 markets are considered “undervalued” or more than 14% below the norm.

Now I know some of you are scratching your heads and saying, how is the drop in property value a positive thing. But the fact is that though the ride was nice in the big real estate boom of the early 2000s, we couldn’t sustain those types of record appreciation levels without eliminating certain consumer niches, including first time home buyers. Now that levels are back within range, the first time home buyers are once again able to reenter the market which is why we are seeing such a strong surge in sales in that level.

It’s just a matter of time before we weed through the remaining banked owned inventory and we should begin to see prices stabilize. Once we see that, the remaining areas of the market should begin to see an upswing, too.

==>>Denver Resists Price Swings  April 5, 2009 Denver Post

April 10, 2009
We awoke Thursday morning to some very positive economic news—Wells Fargo reported a better-than-expected first quarter profit of $3 billion surging the company’s stock by 32% and boosting shares of many other big banks as investors bet that Wells Fargo’s peers may also post results that exceed Wall Street’s estimates. The hope by all involved is that the banking sector is stabilizing. Much of Wells Fargo’s recent success is in part related to the recent increases in mortgage loan applications which could be a strong sign that consumer confidence is on the rise.

Also revealed this week is the fact that new jobless claims fell more than expected. The Labor Department said Thursday that the tally of initial jobless claims fell to a seasonally adjusted 654,000 from a revised 674,000 the previous week. Analysts expected claims to drop to 660,000

This week there were so many positive headlines that, rather than provide you with my ongoing synopsis, I thought I’d give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth. Yes, even the media is now on board with the positive headlines which tells me that the market is definitely changing.

New jobless claims, trade gap fall; retailers see signs of hope; http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/2009-04-09-jobless-trade_N.htm
Big rally on Wall Street; http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/09/markets/markets_newyork/index.htm?postversion=2009040918
The case for buying a home right now; http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123913901841798375.html
With affordability up, home buyers are returning to the market; http://www.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?sectionID=0&newsID=9000
Outlook on economy is brightening; http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/us/politics/07poll.html?_r=1&scp=23&sq=economy&st=nyt
Real Estate Outlook: Promising Numbers; http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20090407_realestateoutlook.htm
Denver: 10 Cities Where Americans Are Relocating; http://www.forbes.com/2009/03/30/americans-moving-cities-lifestyle-real-estate-relocating_slide_2.html?thisspeed=25000

March 30
, 2009
This week, according to Reuters.com, U.S. mortgage applications jumped as record low interest rates spurred a surge in demand for home refinancing loans. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage applications, which includes both purchase and refinance loans, increased 32.2 percent to 1,159.4 for the week ended March 20. Refinancing accounted for 78.5 percent of all applications.

Furthermore, interest rates on mortgages fell after the Federal Reserve last week said it would buy Treasury securities for the first time in more than four decades as well as more than double its planned purchases of mortgage-related securities.
www.Reuters.com  reported that “Borrowing costs on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, excluding fees, averaged 4.63 percent, down 0.26 percentage point from the previous week, reaching a record low….Interest rates were well below year-ago levels of 5.74 percent.”

Meanwhile, according to Realty Times, housing starts took a surprise jump of 22 percent in February over January's depressed levels. Most of the increase was attributable to apartments and condominiums, but single family starts were up by one percentage point, and new home permits were up by 11 percent, after months of sharp declines.

Existing home sales are also seeing some good trends. NAR reported this week that sales activity for single family, town homes, condominiums and co-ops rose 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million units in February from a pace of 4.49 million units in January.

March 20
, 2009
First, CNNMoney.com reported a sudden, unexpected surge in U.S. housing starts. According to the Commerce Department, housing starts rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 583,000 last month, up 22% from a revised 477,000 in January. The big surprise: Economists were expecting starts to decline to 450,000, according to consensus estimates by Briefing.com.

Furthermore, applications for building permits, considered a reliable sign of future construction activity, rose 3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 547,000 last month. The other big surprise: Economists were expecting permits to fall to 500,000.

Also interesting this week, retail sales figures fell much less than expected in February, and surprisingly strong January sales were revised even higher. According to CNNMoney.com, “U.S. store sales showed a smaller-than-expected decline in February after an unexpected surge in January that was bigger than originally reported…The Commerce Department said total retail sales fell 0.1% last month, compared with January’s revised increase of 1.8%. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had been expecting a decrease of 0.5% for February.”

So, is it safe to call this a trend? Are we out of the woods yet? It’s tough to say. In all honesty, you don’t know whether or not you’ve hit bottom until you’re on your way back up but it seems some of the critical signs are starting to show signs of life which is welcome relief for our wounded economy.

Also in the news this week, the Federal Reserve announced plans to purchase up to $750 billion in mortgage-backed securities and up to $300 billion in longer term Treasury securities. Our representatives at the National Association of Realtors applauded the plans noting “This is great news for American home buyers and homeowners because mortgage interest rates will continue at historic lows.”

What this means for Americans is that a greater number of home buyers will be able to purchase a home and homeowners facing challenges will be able to refinance into better terms. As NAR noted, “We already are experiencing a great improvement in housing affordability due to historically low interest rates and the Fed’s move will push affordability conditions to the best levels in 40 years. In addition, continued low rates will lessen foreclosure pressure and help stabilize home prices sooner, as more Americans buy homes and draw down inventory.”

Along the lines of mortgage relief, the Treasury Department this week launched a new website for consumers seeking information about the Obama Administration’s Making Home Affordable loan modification and refinancing program. The site, www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov, offers features including interactive self-assessment tools that will empower borrowers to determine if they are eligible to participate and calculate the monthly mortgage payment reductions they could stand to realize under the Making Home Affordable program.

March 17
, 2009
With real estate’s traditionally busy Spring selling season right around the corner, what do we expect March-June to do for our market this year? Well as much as I’d love to say that we anticipate a sudden, overwhelming surge in sales and that all of our challenges are behind us, I won’t. What I can say is that we are seeing some bright spots thanks to heightened consumer confidence, following the recent legislation passed by the Obama administration. January and much of February had many buyers sitting on the fence as they awaited the results of the Economic Stimulus Package. The lowering of interest rates, induction and improvement of the home buyer tax credit, reduction in preventable foreclosures and reinstatement of the higher loan limits now have some buyers getting off the fence.

For buyers who are out there and are considering buying right now, if you plan to stay in your home for a long period of time, you probably can’t go wrong purchasing today. Though we anticipate moderate home sales in the near term, buyers are ultimately expected to respond to much improved affordability conditions as well as the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the market will pick up. It’s just a matter of time. And when it does, that pick up will translate into more competition, less inventory and possibly higher home prices, resulting in less purchasing power for you. Consider my advice: waiting may cost you.

What I’ll leave you with this week is a reminder that, for buyers, opportunity is knocking this Spring.  Buyers need to be aware of today’s advantages—attractive interest rates, increased affordability, sizeable inventory, increased loan limits, $8,000 first time home buyer tax credit and motivated sellers.  The stars couldn’t be more perfectly aligned. 

For sellers, pricing is key.  Homes that are priced well (really well) and show well, are selling.  Home that aren’t, sit.  Consider this as you prepare your home for market and please, take my and your Agent’s advice, and don’t test the market.  Price your home well from the beginning to generate the largest pool of potential buyers.

March 3
, 2009
First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit

As you may have heard, significant improvements in the temporary First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit were signed into law on February 17, 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to provide a housing stimulus for first-time home purchases that occur between January 1 and December 1, 2009.

This is even better news for first-time homebuyers than the tax credit announced in April 2008 because not only has the tax credit maximum increased from $7,500 to $8,000—but more significantly—it does not need to be repaid unless the individual re-sells the home within three years.

There are several notable points about this federal income tax credit and they are:

  • Credit maximum was increased from $7,500 to $8,000. The credit is calculated as 10% of the purchase price. Example: If the purchase price is $70,000, the credit is $7,000.

  • Removed the repayment requirement, provided the homebuyer does not resell the home for three years.

  • Eligibility remains for first-time homebuyers only. In this case, a first-time homebuyer is defined as an individual who has not owned a primary home at any time during the three years prior to purchase, but who may have done so prior to that time. Although certain income limits do apply, the amount of the credit is the same for all taxpayers, married or single.

  • To be eligible for the full tax credit, the homebuyer can have an annual adjusted gross income of no more than $75,000 ($150,000 on a joint return). A homebuyer with an annual adjusted gross income above that level and up to $95,000 ($170,000 on a joint return) is eligible for a reduced tax credit.

  • The tax credit can be claimed on one’s individual or joint tax return for the purchase of any single-family home between January 1, 2009 and December 1, 2009. It can be claimed on a 2008 tax return (to be filed by April 15, 2009), an amended 2008 tax return, or a 2009 tax return. Individuals should consult a professional tax advisor for exact tax calculations and timing.

February 28, 2009
Let’s look at the numbers for the Denver market as reported by Metrolist for the first month of 2009.
==>>Click here for Denver/Metro Real Estate Report

Total properties closed in January were down 17.3% over last year. Average sales prices continue to decline with a 16.3% decrease in January year-over-year. The million dollar sales continue to see tough times with units closed down more than 51% for January. But, we did see a 19.4% reduction in inventory for the month of January. This brings us to more than seven straight months of 20% decreases, which remains to be a very positive trend. Mortgage rates at historical lows, coupled with record low home prices and the signing of the recent stimulus bill, may position the state of Colorado for real estate recovery in 2009.

February 20, 2009
It was a week full of stories and reports, both from the cynics and proponents of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The $780 billion package was signed into law on February 17 and truly is the largest, most unprecedented recovery act in history.

The provisions of the bill were changing even up until hours before the House and Senate voted on the bill, but the final provisions were recently posted to NAR’s website. Click here to access the details and learn more about the housing elements that were included: http://www.realtor.org/government_affairs/gapublic/american_recovery_reinvestment_act_home?lid=ronav0019

Also announced this week was Obama’s $75 billion foreclosure prevention plan. The multipronged plan calls for modifying loans for borrowers both at risk or already in default and for allowing those with little or no home equity to refinance into more affordable loans through interest-rate reductions.

Click here to read the details of the prevention plan: http://www.realtor.org/RMODaily.nsf/pages/News200902190

Obama’s administration said Wednesday that this prevention plan will help up to nine million people avoid foreclosure by providing government funds to provide incentives to borrowers, loan servers and mortgage investors to modify loans to affordable monthly payments.

I know many are wondering if this new program will help. Official guidelines of the plan won’t be unveiled until March 4.  In the meantime, I did find this article on CNN.com which may help in educating yourself:

Bloomberg Reports U.S. Pending Home Resales Rise as Prices, Rates Drop
Bloomberg reports, "More Americans signed contracts to buy previously owned homes in December for the first time in four months, signaling slumping prices may be boosting demand."

February 6, 2009

The coming week will likely be an interesting one in Washington, D.C. as lawmakers make the final decisions on the Economic Stimulus Package.  It will be exciting to see the details unfold and the plan take shape as lawmakers work to quickly restore our ailing economy.Locally, we’re seeing some interesting trends.  As we continue to work through our bank owned properties, it is a welcome sight to finally see banks responding to short sale offers.  Couple that with the fact that with interest rates so low, buyers—especially first time home buyers and some investors—are finally beginning to feel the need to come off the fence and take action.  The hardest hit markets are new construction and the upper end.  Both are nearly at a stand still though as prices begin to stabilize and we finally weed through the bank owned properties (later this year), we should begin to see a domino effect that ultimately benefits all price ranges."


Linda Pinkul Denver Mountain Residential Real Estate Coldwell Banker Evergreen Colorado

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