“I cannot recommend Tracy highly enough!! I had just moved to Denver and Tracy worked so hard to find a house for me, guide me through the buying process and negotiate on my behalf with the sellers. Tracy is professional, tireless and super conscientious. She never forgets the smallest detail. She also has a great sense of humour! I would not hesitate to recommend Tracy….5+ stars all around!!” – Bonnie King

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Wonder why your home didn’t sell in a weekend? Here’s a bit of info on the summer real estate market. If you take a look at the graph you’ll see that showing traffic in 2Q 2016 is down quite a bit from the First Quarter of the year. This is no surprise, it’s been the seasonal trend for the last four years. Coming off of a super-heated real estate market this spring, the usual summer “slowdown” feels more dramatic than a political convention. If you’re “lingering” on the market for a whopping two weeks remember that listings don’t always sell in a weekend and not all of them get twenty offers, especially those priced over $350,000. Summer in Denver is not only the real estate selling season, it’s vacation time too! With so much to do in our lovely state, we get up, get out and go more often and our stressed out home buyers need a break. Showings tend to pick up again after the Fourth of July for those looking to make a move and settle in before school starts in late August. That’s the conventional wisdom coming from an unconventional gal.
What I have seen year-after-year is a strong autumn season for real estate sales when the summer buyers have either completed or delayed their purchase and those who want to serve Thanksgiving in a new home come out to play. Same goes for the end of the year when myth tells us it’s a bad time to list a house for sale. My experience has been that winter buyers are fewer, yes, but they are more serious and with our continued lack of inventory many will see the cooler months as a less competitive time to purchase a home. Look for more soon in my next Real Estate Market Update.

sweet and lucky 2
Photo: Adams Visual Communications
To say that life is sweet and we are lucky is a sentiment reserved for the days spent looking backward. Rare are the moments spent fully present, when the experience and appreciation collide. This summer, in a 16,000 square feet warehouse in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood, a confluence of elements comes together to create a unique experience where life comes alive and the past is fully present. Presented by DCPA Off Center in collaboration with Third Rail Projects, Sweet & Lucky is a theatrical time ballet exploring the nature of love, memory and the objects that connect us to both. Lush, romantic, universal, metaphoric and delightful― there is magic happening here and you feel it.

Describing the event without giving too much away- not in plot spoilers, but careful not to interfere- is tricky for this is immersion theatre. Rather than the traditional sitting-in-the-dark-watching-actors-tell-the-story or the interactive style of Tony & Tina’s Wedding, Sweet & Lucky invites you into its world, takes your hand and guides you through it, while leaving space for the sound of your soul to fill the silence.

It is a story of love through decades and the moments that ultimately define us. My first venture into Sweet & Lucky took me on a deeply personal journey as touchstones of the central relationship reveal the heartaches, kisses, treasures and gratitude that make a life. Audience members are allowed to snoop around in the lovers’ psyches; reading letters, guessing outcomes, drinking in the ambiance a taste of the Sweet & Lucky cocktail created by Williams & Graham mixologist, Sean Kenyon.

Everyone starts together in the huge warehouse space, culled into smaller groups, and moved room-to-room as the twelve performer piece unfolds. Each room is its own environment, designed to evoke engagement through the senses with exquisite visuals, tasks, scents and “audio texture”, contributing to a deeply moving and dream-like evening, bearing witness to the core of the story and finding resonance in your own.

Given the opportunity to return, I took my son, August Witherspoon, curious to see how the evening would play in his open, twenty-two-year-old heart and compared notes over a cocktail in the post-show speakeasy. A few questions led us to the realization that we’d each tracked a different cast-

So we saw different actors playing the same story? I like that, and how you were left to fill in the blanks in what happened; we got different views of the same play. I love how as you’re taken from scene to scene, you start to notice trending objects; symbols and motifs become apparent the further along into the story you progress and wrap around again. Like how every sense is pleasantly utilized, from smelling the chamomile and lavender to the taste of the same herbs in the cocktail. I felt these things starting to have an effect on me― they were not only connecting the story together but they started connecting me to my own memories. You’re watching this story, putting together the pieces and becoming introspective into your own memories of loved ones. That’s never happened to me at the theatre. I realized how many memories I’ve made in my short time on this Earth, many of which I hadn’t thought of since the events themselves. It really makes you wonder what creates a memory, and how the more memories you make with someone, the closer you become with them. I guess that’s why they seem to never dissipate.

How true my son. We’re just spinning around on a rock amid the stars, without reason, making all the memories we can. Sweet.

SWEET & LUCKY is produced by DCPA’s Off Center, a commission of Brooklyn-based Third Rail Projects. Running through August 7 (at which time it must close) tickets are limited, non-transferable, and available at 303.893.4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org

Ever wonder what to do or what’s going on around town? Me too. That’s why I’ve created this easy cheat sheet for Denver Events running from July through October. You’ll find arts and culture, music and barbecues, pet-friendly gatherings and social soirees at your fingertips. Print it out, save it to your phone, grab your sunscreen, a blanket, a friend (furry or not), pack up the family or head out alone to any and all of these great events. They’ll remind you what makes living in Denver so spectacular!
Oh, and if you’d like to beat the heat looking at houses in Denver’s hot real estate market, we can do that too! I’m air-conditioned.

Denver Events July-Oct 2016 - TShaffer [219493]

BubbleAs a Realtor, out on the town I’m always asked, “How’s the market?” It’s the follow-up question where it really gets interesting.

The last seven years have seen a surge in the metro Denver real estate market as record numbers of buyers look for homes, which in turn has caused prices to jump. The strength in the market has been so pronounced that people are beginning to ask “Are we in another bubble?” It’s a reasonable question given the horrendous experience of the housing crisis, and while no one can ever predict the future with certainty, I see no evidence that we’re heading for a dramatic downturn in the real estate market any time soon. Here’s why:
1. Even with the continued increase in metro Denver home prices (up another 8 percent in the past 12 months) the average inflation adjusted PITI (Principle, Interest, Taxes, and Insurance) payment made in metro Denver is actually BELOW our 35-year average. This means that while prices have steadily risen, buyers are still able to afford their monthly payments, providing plenty of room for continued home price increases.
2. The number of transactions relative to the population of metro Denver is just about at the 25-year average. At the peak of the bubble in 2006 the number of home sales was about 20 percent above the historical average. When we see the number of closed transactions well above our historical average that’s an indication of an overheated market, as it was in 2006. The number of closed home sales is actually DOWN 12 percent in the past year due to the low inventory. No sign of a bubble here.
3. In 2006, many of the deals were closed with low or no documentation mortgages (“liar loans” or “no doc loans”). Today, mortgage underwriting standards are among the toughest they’ve been in decades. This prevents unqualified buyers from purchasing property, which mitigates the chance of the market overheating (fewer buyers means fewer purchases means less chance of the market frothing into bubble territory like it did in the past).
4. Because of relatively high home affordability it’s a lot cheaper to buy than rent in our market. This would not be true in a bubble. For housing price affordability to return to the average level that we saw in the years between 2000 and 2004 either home prices would have to increase an additional 35 percent or interest rates rise to 6.6 percent. Neither is going to happen any time soon.
5. The imbalance between buyers and sellers we’ve seen recently in our housing market (too many buyers/not enough homes for sale) is due to a lack of inventory, not illogical/unrealistic/unsustainable demand from buyers. “Much of the price increases we are seeing are the result of rising demand among investors and homebuyers for a still-limited supply of homes for sale,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. This imbalance is a logical correction from years past when we had too FEW buyers in the market. This is how markets are supposed to work, always regressing to the mean over time.
6. Rising mortgage rates will help to temper the possibility of a bubble as well (they are still near 50-year lows but are expected to rise someday). “History shows that a rapid rise in interest rates tends to have little correlation with home prices. Rather, rising rates are more likely to contribute to a decrease in home purchase volume,” wrote Mark Palim in a Fannie Mae commentary. So the positive side of a rise in mortgage rates is that it will reduce the number of buyers and therefore lower the chance the market will rise out of control and end up collapsing in a bubble.
Click on the monthly market snapshot, the inventory of metro Denver homes for sale continues to fall; it’s down another 5 percent from a year ago. Since the inventory is still extremely low (about 5,520 homes on the market where about 18,000 is a balanced market) I am all but certain the demand will still exceed the supply for the next several years and prices will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. No bubble on the horizon yet… Stay tuned!
June 16 - Market Snapshot [5608]

Buyers
If you agree that we’re not headed for a bubble any time soon what does this mean for you as a buyer? I think it means you should consider buying a home IF it makes sense for you to do so. Are you running out of room at home? Expecting a baby? Have an awful commute? Want to live in a nicer neighborhood? Looking for a better school district for the kids? There are a lot of great reasons to move. But don’t buy a home to speculate on the market; buy because it’s time for a new home. Call me anytime to discuss what your options are and how I can help you find a wonderful place to live.
Sellers
We have been discussing the incredible strength in our housing market. If you’re looking to sell your home this should be very welcoming news! The inventory of homes on the market is at an all-time low and prices are up. Call me and I’ll be happy to run a complimentary Comparative Market Analysis on your home to let you know what it might be worth. It’s great information and costs you nothing.
Investors
The most recent “Metro Denver Area Residential Rent and Vacancy Survey” shows the great news continues for landlords. According to the report:
“The overall vacancy rate for the metro area for the fourth quarter of 2015 was 3.1 compared to 3.9 percent for the previous quarter, and 1.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2014. It was 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, 1.7 percent for the fourth quarter of 2012, 2.1 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011, 2.0 for the fourth quarter of 2010, 5.5 for the fourth quarter of 2009, and 4.9 percent for the fourth quarter of 2008.”
In the U.S., more millionaires owe their wealth to real estate investments than any other single source of income. Today’s market could not be better for long-term buy –and-hold investors. Call me to find out more.

Vacancy Rates
Adams 3.9%
Arapahoe 4.0%
Boulder/Broomfield 2.7%
Denver 3.1%
Douglas 1.7%
Jefferson 2.6%

I have this friend…
poppies
And this friend set up a series of tasks to be done in a specific amount of time. We all do this, right? That’s probably how you spent your day. Morning alarm clocks ring and the battle begins with a slap of the Snooze button. Racing to meet due dates, deadlines, and school schedules, we “block out” time, “tackle” to-do lists and “rush” through traffic. Sounds like a football game. We complain there’s never enough of it, chasing minutes rather than savoring moments as if the only measure of time is what can be accomplished between sunrise and sundown. Time has never changed… you have.
Remember when you were young and summer break was so exciting? Sleeping in, sleepovers and sleep-away camps sound divine in early June, but come September the summer had lasted long enough. You got bored. The natural rhythm of seasonal time brings us full circle; from the restless excitement of the final school bell to the excited entrance into the next grade—taller, tanner and ready for the next adventure. Why don’t we feel that anymore? Because we’ve got this time thing all wrong.
The measure of time is a natural cycle of days, nights and seasons in continuum. We are fooling ourselves that it can be managed, bottled, blocked or wasted; it can only be perceived as having value or as the enemy, but in its essence it just is. And it’s all we have.
All this said, I do find that my life is more fluid and enjoyable when I set up time to focus on any given task—time blocking is one word for it. When I allow myself to be fully engaged in a single activity— property searches, phone calls, exercise, writing and even paying bills— I feel and perform better when I give up the notion that I’m in control of time. Living with sensory integration disorder, I’ve learned that the race with time is one I’ll never win; dust and laundry prove my point. It’s easier for me to choose how to engage with it and to give myself the gift of focus. In a multi-tasking paradigm, I never get things done. In engagement it flows and flies, making the most mundane… joyful.
So my friend… Overwhelmed and over-scheduled, stretched to the bursting point. Setting aside weekends and evenings to catch up wasn’t working and the desire for life/work balance had become more stressful rather than reducing it. There was no room to move forward with so much on the plate. “I’ve planted some poppy seeds in an egg crate, set them in the sun, and when the seeds have sprouted and the plants are robust, I’ll have completed what is weighing me down”.
What a wonderful thing, I thought; to give oneself the time it takes nature to make manifest what is possible and mirror a span in time. Last time I checked in the reply was, “cultivating poppies”, an image I adore as I move through my own sense of task and time. Today there was a rainstorm, our sunny skies turned grey and the sweaters came out again. Soon we’ll be wishing it weren’t so hot. Both are needed to cultivate your poppies.

Let’s talk about homeownership. Are you considering buying vs. renting?

May 16 - Market Snapshot2
Renters often ask me if it’s too late to buy a house: Are we heading for a big downturn? Are we too deep in the market cycle to buy? they wonder. Timing the real estate market perfectly is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, and some of these potential buyers were the same renters that were sitting on the fence when the market was down, even once we’d passed the nadir. I believe that buying a home is less about the market and more about life; your life. So don’t try to time the market, take a look at your life, the low interest rates and time that!

1.) Are you getting married, starting a family, or tired of paying skyrocketing rent without having an asset to show for it? Would you like to have more space; a backyard for the dog, the kids, the BBQs, or the tomatoes? Do you like the idea of being part of a neighborhood, community? Perhaps you got a nice raise, job or promotion and you’d like to set down roots, do you plan on staying in one place for at least five years? Do you like the idea of investing in something that will build long-term wealth?

These are the types of questions you should be asking when you are considering homeownership.

Here’s another thing to keep in mind. In the U.S., the average total net worth of rental households is $5,800. Compare that with the average net worth of a home-owning household at $199,500 and you’ve got worth 34 times more than those who rent! There’s no doubt that over the long term, homeownership is a solid way to build wealth and financial security. I often advise my first-time buyers to get into something affordable now (not so easy in Denver these days, but doable) and then move up when life allows. If you can keep that first property as a rental, it’s a great way to invest in your financial future.

2. Interest rates remain at record lows but this can’t last forever. No one knows when they’re going to rise, but news this week gave hints of a rise as early as June. Though home prices have gone up the past several years, low interest rates continue to make homes relatively affordable— especially compared to renting. Once interest rates rise, the door to home affordability will begin to close for a lot of potential buyers, leaving them sorry they didn’t act when interest rates were at 50-year lows.

Let me break down the numbers. Assume you are purchasing a $210,000 condo with a 5 percent down payment. The Principle + Interest payment at 4% interest would be $952 per month (tax and insurance and HOA not included). An interest rate increase of one percent (5%) would take your payment of $1,070 per month—an increase of $1,416 a year. Now assume that rates tick up to 6 percent. That increase would result in a 21 percent increase in payments from $952 to $1,196. Where you really see the effect of these increases is when you hold the property for the full 30 years. On a $210,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage that increases from 4 to 5 percent, the borrower who obtains the 5 percent loan would pay an additional $42,772 in extra interest as opposed to the borrower who paid just 4 percent interest. Though most buyers consider their monthly payment as most important, when you look at the life of the loan you’re paying a lot more in the total loan amount. This is a great reason to make a “move-up” move right now. Say you’ve outgrown your place, it may be time to cash out and get your “forever home”, or like I mentioned, use your current home as an income property and let your renters pay off your mortgage.
The main reason the average home owner has so much more personal wealth than the average renter is that homes appreciate in value. Over the past 45 years, homes in metro Denver appreciated 6.3 percent per year. If you buy a $200,000 home, you can expect over the long term its value to rise about 6 percent every year. This means you’d make $12,000 in appreciation the first year, an additional $12,720 the second year, another $13,483 in the third year, and on and on. Contrary to popular belief, only 4 of the past 45 years did prices actually fall in metro Denver.
If you’re still wondering whether you’d be better off renting or buying, Trulia built a great Rent-vs-Buy tool. Answer a few simple questions and the system tells you whether it makes more financial sense over the next seven years to rent or purchase. I think it’s worth a couple minutes of your time to see what you can learn – you’ll really like it! buyers chart
Key Messages for May

Prices are up 8% in the prior 12 months vs historical 6%. Inventories are tighter than last year, especially for small, lower priced homes. In 2016, we expect 8-9% appreciation, flat unit sales volume increases, and continued tight inventories.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It was less than 24 hours after the shock of The Purple One’s untimely death that the Denver Film Society announced they would open the annual Film on the Rocks program two weeks early to honor Prince with a screening of “Purple Rain”.
“The film was the thing from the first moment of the sad news”, says Film Society’s Festival Director, Britta Erickson. “We’d just announced our 2016 line-up, but it didn’t take long to pull the trigger on making a decision to add the show.” The epic event, and it had to be epic, meant securing an open date at the Red Rocks venue, negotiating the film rights from Warner Brothers, and pulling together some of Denver’s most talented musicians for a local all-star tribute.” Kristin Nolan stepped it to round up more than 170 performers from a wide range of musical styles, they rehearsed, sound-checked and jammed. In a syncopated collab between Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Film Society and Ms. Nolan, all of this happened in three weeks.
And. It. Was. Epic.
The Red Rocks Amphitheater became a lavender sea as fans and their families filled the seats, squeezing close together to accommodate the record-breaking FOTR crowd; a sell-out at 9000 within 24 hours. The party started appropriately when Andy Rok and the Real Deal took stage to with The Artist Formerly Known’s party anthem, Let’s Go Crazy, as we waited for the dusk to descend. So much more than Prince cover bands, each of the thirteen groups offered an original rendition— Flobots, Shady Elders, Ian Cooke Band with Kevin Johnson of The Bright Silence, Elin Palmer and members of Chimney Choir, Bluebook and more. Wheelchair Sports Camp brought the funk, others were spot on in style, spirit and soul; and some brought a more personal tack with their arrangements that, if not the immediate pop-song ear-worm, revealed the strength of Prince’s music. The Heavy Heavies brought me to my feet, while jazz singer and KUVO hostess, Venus Cruz, brought me to my knees.
The evening turned toward the sacred when 115 members of the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus took center stage for the grand finale; a splendid rendition of Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever”. Hearts were shaken and stirred. This heavenly choir stepped back, allowing the other 60 artists onstage for the title track of the evening, Purple Rain. The stars were out, the house was standing, swaying, singing, and by the time we got to the ooo-ooo-ooo-oooo at the end of the song it was as if there was a great shaft of purple light and love beaming from Morrison, Colorado to the celestial sphere.
Moments later, the movie started to a roar from the sated crowd and just as I remembered— Morris Day was campy, Apollonia was stunning, and Prince… my god he was a star.
Film on the Rocks opens its regular season on May 23rd with Grease and continues with summer favorites, The Big Lebowski and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, cinema greats, Citizen Cane, standouts like Deadpool and closing in September with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. July 27th brings another tribute to another fallen star with the 1986 David Bowie film, Labyrinth. Summer nights just got epic.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

rsz_futura_photo_title_and_anne_only_[44058093]When Boulder theater artist, Amanda Berg Wilson returned to Denver from a decade long explore of Chicago what she found here was a lot of great theater. What she craved, was great theater with a Chi-town influence. “There was so much being done in Chicago while I was there, so much of it was unlike anything I’d seen before; exciting voices from playwrights telling multi-disciplinary, non-realistic stories that were offbeat and very theatrical.” That was then. Now in its fifth season, Co-Founder/Artistic Director, Amanda Berg Wilson and the cadre of artists who constitute The Catamounts, continue to surprise and engage like no one else in Denver theater. Drawn to the non-linear tale, this “Theater for an Adventurous Palate” has built a repertoire of edgy experiences for a loyal Denver/Boulder audience that is welcoming of the group’s esoteric, contemporary focus. And they FEED you.
I sat down with some Catamounts and began a chat about the upcoming production of Jordan Harrison’s play, Futura, with a slight detour diving deep into the differences between experimental theatre and performance art and the evolution of the avant-garde movement. “The concept of pushing the boundaries of theatrical convention isn’t new, of course, it just keeps changing” says Amanda. “Where we fit into this as a company is that rather than looking for stories that alienate, we’re looking for stories with a point of entry, for narratives that refine and defy convention while engaging our audience.” So far, so good.
Futura is the season’s second full-length offering; a dystopian allegory written by Jordan Harrison, directed by company member Meridith Grundei. A 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist for his play Marjorie Prime, Harrison takes us to the not so distant future where the printed word is illegal. Harrison’s obsession with fonts led him to an exploration of the art of pen-to-paper and the extinction of the printed word in a digitized age where online libraries, e-readers and the rapidly shrinking newspaper industry are the polar ice caps of a font-fetishist’s nightmare. Melancholy for a pre-e world and the collateral damage of the Information Age is a now a font of inspiration for millennial writers. Playwright Annie Baker mourned the loss of film to digital in The Flick, and though Harrison is currently on the writing team for the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, his theatrical forays continue to pay off.
I ask Ms. Grundei, to tell me about Futura and a world where the printed word cannot be written or even read. “It takes place in 2021, so not that far off, when the written word is virtually dead. On her first day back on the job after her husband’s gone missing, a University professor launches into a passionate rant about history, relevance and importance typography and the detrimental effects of the techno world on the human brain. Then she gets kidnapped.”
We continue into the topics explored on the play’s dark side: the ominous Big Brother, capricious Wikipedia and manipulation of information controlled by a select few. “It’s interesting because rather than being a manipulative polemic, we ask at what cost? Futura is a brilliantly written and thought-provoking play about the physical loss of the written page, our privacy in this growing technological world, and the beauty and sadness around the loss of something so simple as an ink smudge.” Says the eloquent Ms. Grundei. “A life without texture” say I. The Catamounts Executive Producer, McPherson Horle, adds, “The largess of Jordan Harrison’s ideas about government intrusion and the power of the written word would be gift enough, but the humor, grace and humanity that pervade this piece are truly remarkable. This is a hopeful story about the importance of human connection, and the art that flows as a result.”
Now tell me about the FEED. Berg Wilson picks up, “FEED is a multi-course, seated dinner where each course pairs a dish, a drink, and a performance piece. All courses revolve around a central theme, and live music weaves the whole evening together.” Go on… “We choose a theme, FEED: Fire, FEED: Illuminate” says Horle. “Then we create a palate of handcrafted food and a specialty drink inspired by that theme. We encourage people to experience the chef’s pairings and the performance- dance, music, literature- each element enhances and compliments the other. It’s truly magical.” I ask MacPherson Horle how that came to be. “Well, first off, we’re foodies. Foodies with an MFA.”
Sounds good to me!

Futura opens April 2 at the Nomad Theater in Boulder and runs through the 16th. Click here for tickets, schedule and special performance events.