sunriseThere’s a lot of talk in Denver about this “crazy new real estate market”, how “everything’s different than it used to be”, and after six years of heartbreak, I say “thank god”. For those interested in real estate, and for those who might be considering buying or selling a property, understanding the big picture is critical. So here’s where it stands.
Most people think this tremendous seller’s market and that the super low inventory is something new, or that the market’s going to suddenly erupt overnight. Neither is true. Here’s the truth: we are FOUR YEARS PAST THE BOTTOM of our last real estate cycle. Just because the Denver Post is suddenly aware of the real estate market, or Zillow writes screeching articles about the tight market in order to sell ad space don’t be fooled. It’s not new. It is a logical continuation of a market that is reacting strongly to the over-selling we saw between 2007 and 2009 (which finally bottomed out in 2009). It’s doing exactly what real estate market cycles do. They rise and fall over long periods of time, but historically (and I mean over the past 40 years) residential real estate appreciation has averaged 6 percent per year and there is no reason to think that is going to change over the next 40 years.
We tend to think of market cycles in short-terms, spiking and crashing over short periods of time, but a quick look at the last market cycle clearly shows this is not how real estate works. Real estate cycles tend to move in much broader periods, 7-10 years are typical over the past 40 years. This is why predicting short-term market movements can be very difficult, whereas assuming the market will move in 7-10 cycles is a pretty good guess. During these past four years, as we continue the rise from our low, we have seen more of a seller’s market. Plummeting inventory and rising prices drove nervous buyers into multiple offer competitions with happy sellers getting the price they want. In fact, look at Chart Y and you’ll get a great perspective of how strong our market is. You see that the metro Denver 2013 Closed Dollar Volume of all residential sales hit a new high which translates into a record amount of money in the pockets of sellers. Good times for sellers!
Many of my buyers are understandably nervous. Rents are skyrocketing (up 8% this year) but news articles and TV reports claim the market is teetering on the brink of a crash, creating a “Fear of Buying”.
So let me be clear: no one can predict the real estate market with 100% accuracy. I can’t, the Federal Reserve can’t, the banks with all the money can’t (obviously!), no one can. But, understanding how market cycles work, and recognizing how low our current inventory is, I can say with confidence I do not see any impending weakness in the market over the next couple of years. We are four years into what will probably be a typical 7-10 year cycle of low inventory and rising prices. I can’t tell you what the Dow Jones will finish at next Monday. I can’t tell you if the Rockies will win their fifth game of the season. I can’t tell you what the weather will be on April 3rd. But I can say with confidence that real estate tends to move over predictable long-term trends, and this market cycle has a long way to go.

Mid-Century Modern homes are a hot commodity in Denver. Many of them have been remodeled through the decades, often by owners who didn’t realize that what felt outdated would eventually hold the home’s value. This beautiful Mid-Century ranch home has been restored with respect for the flair and detail of 1960 without being kitchy or “retro”. Sleek lines and a serene palette make it feel young again. Situated on a hill with mountain views, this 4 bed/2 bath home is a short walk or roll to Trader Joe’s, Streets of Southglenn, Goodson Rec Center and open space. Come on by.

By now you know the Denver real estate market has bounced back, now let’s look at it by the record-setting numbers.
At the end of 2013 there were:
7,275 homes for sale, (down 6%).
67,550 new listings came on the market for the year, (up 12%).
67,429 homes went under contract (↑20%)
54,024 homes closed (up 17%)
The average days on market was 58 days (↓25%)
Average sold price was $306,910 (↑10%) and closed dollar volume was $16.6 Billion (↑29%). If this sounds like Realtor crack, it is.
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But what does it mean for you?
1. Did ya take a look at that map? Go ahead, click on it. Remember when there was a whole lot of pink and red, lots of yellow…? I do. Now the map is predominantly green and the key shows you how much each neighborhood has improved over last year.
(If you’d like more detail about your own neighborhood, shoot me an email.)

Metrolist expert Gary Bauer observes it this way:

The inventory of active listings, homes available for sale, started a downward trend in 2011, which continued through 2013. In March, 2013, the inventory of active listings was 6,682 homes, an all time low. Active Listings continues to be a primary sustainability concern for the home market.
Home affordability declined due to median home price increases. The month’s supply of inventory started and finished the year at 2 months.
Once again, rental rates continue an upward trend and rental availability continues to decline. With declining distressed properties, foreclosures and REO, at less than 10% of the market and low active listings, new home builders will again be an alternate in the housing market. The largest number of Single Family and Condo properties sold in price range of $100,000 to $499,999 for 2013. The largest number of Single Family homes sold in the price range of $200,000 to $299,999. The largest number of Condo homes sold in the price range of $100,000 to $199,999.
Million dollar plus homes closed/sold were up 16% when comparing 2013 versus 2012. Million dollar plus home closings accounted for $1.5 Billion of the $16.6 Billion total 2013 volume.
Mortgage interest rates started to increase and then fluctuated downward to later increase again during the year, with an overall increase of approximately 1%.

And that’s good news for all of us!

amazing soulsAdmit it. This thought has crossed your mind, hasn’t it? You’ve probably even made a mental note to ask me, or worse… unsubscribe. So what makes me send you this monthly missive? The reasons are few, but they’re mighty.
1. Yes, I am in the business of helping people buy and sell homes and I’d like for you to think of me should that thought also cross your mind. Pretty crafty, huh?
2. To keep you up to date with the Denver real estate market, how it’s doing and where it’s headed. Like this little ditty from USA Today.
2. I believe that life is richer when experienced in community, and that a community is empowered by engagement.
3. I believe that real estate is all about story. Every home, every buyer, every seller, comes with a tale to tell, a story to reveal.
4. I have a knack for meeting interesting people who do really cool things and I want to share them with you.
And here comes the mighty…
5. Every month when I send out my newsy little newsletter, chock full o’ tips about home values and market trends, writing of the wonders of a swanky little art space, or the best place to take a burlesque dance class on a Sunday morning, you call me. You reach out via comment, Facebook, phone or email to let me know what you thought, ask me a question, or (best of all) set up some face-time. And I like that. A lot.

Building and deepening relationships, creating dialogue, drinking coffee… whatever I can do to help you put a little bump in your daily grind.

market forecast
The National Association of Realtors just wrapped up their 2013 Conference & Expo. Chief economist for the organization, Lawrence Yun offered his insight on what to expect for the 2014 housing market: steadiness in existing-home sales over the next year as prices continue to ascend.
Based on what has happened in 2013, Yun says he expects existing-home sales to be up about 10 percent in 2013 to 5.13 million and that 2014 will hold fairly even at about 5.12 million.
We in the Denver housing market, predict continued growth in the number of homes sold, with the accelerated appreciation of 2013 to level out in ’14 to around 4 percent.
National median existing-home prices should end this year about 11% higher than 2012, while next year’s growth is expected to nearly half of that. Those who’ve been following the return of the housing market know that the past two years have shown a 20% cumulative increase in existing-home sales with prices rising an average of 18%. Incomes have not kept pace, rising between 2-4% in the same period.

“We’ve come off of record high housing affordability conditions in the past year, and are now at a five-year low, but conditions are still the fifth best in the past 40 years,” Yun said, noting that the median-income family should still be “well-positioned” to buy a home in 2014 in many areas.

Affordability, limited inventory (especially in metro Denver), stringent mortgage standards and rising interest rates will all factor into the expected gains over the coming year. Housing starts are predicted to fall short of the underlying demand, while sales of new homes are expected to total 429,000 in 2013 and 508,000 next year.
Based on Lawrence Yun’s forecasts,the top 10 markets to watch for a housing turn around in 2014 are Salt Lake City, Utah; Naples and Tampa, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Boise, Idaho; Houston, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver, Colorado; Seattle, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona.

Sitting in a real estate marketing seminar in a downtown Denver hotel, fluorescent lighting, those stiff, stacking chairs…The peppy presenter popped off a proposition. “What if you are more than their agent? What if you become their ‘Realtor for Life’? Still new to the whole real estate thing, I pondered this process and then…Matt and Kelly at home
I met Kelly on a late summer Denver day. We discovered, as we played in the park, that her eldest daughter would be joining my first son at an elementary school come fall. What we didn’t know was that we’d spend our lives together.
Then I met Felipe. He was Kelly’s husband. Of an autumn afternoon at the schoolyard, we chatted to the strains of swings on metal. He learned I was in real estate, I learned he was a hairdresser. We met a few weeks later to talk about selling their rental property, which I did. It was my first listing appointment, and he became my hairstylist.
The kids moved up a grade or two, we’d had some backyard barbecues, another child was born… ya know… life. I was offered a seat at their kitchen table. It was time to move along down romance road, time to sell the family home. Which I did.
Felipe met Molly. Molly need to sell her home. So I did. Kelly moved in to a rental, Molly and Felipe moved into a rental. We changed schools, I changed hairdressers—not for any particular reason, just because that’s what women do— we exchanged numbers and kept in contact. No… we kept in touch.
And where were we then, a pool, maybe? I remember Kelly in the sunshine, loading the kids into the van and waving from the carpool lane. “Call me” she motioned. And I did. It was time to buy a place of her own, where she could build a home and some equity. We found it.
Then Kelly met Matt. He was a software developer and you could see by the look in her eyes that something extraordinary was developing. (You know what’s coming don’t you?) They weren’t really looking when the called me, but they saw this home… 1391459_10202143854259316_2076064518_n (1)She has her three, Matt has two of his own, so it had to be roomy. And special. And it is.
So special, in fact, that they got married on the steps of their City Park South home and threw a block party reception that people are still talking about! The evening was magical; Matt and Kelly dancing in the marquee-lit street to the Trubelos, the young ones are rapt by the aerial ballet, the teenagers wrapped in one another, and the Governor chatting with the townsfolk.
Sitting at a table, Molly and Felipe hold hands as he catches up with his past life and the people who people it. Three days later we closed on their new home together.
Ah, you can’t beat love.

picture-of-a-shifty-used-car-salesman-300x237
Real estate agents are not used car salesmen. We’re not interested in selling you a car [or house] and getting you off the lot before the wheels fall off, au contraire.

Why, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve kept the wheels on a deal….

There are a lot of misconceptions in the real estate business, and then there are the facts. In his book “Buyers are Liars and Sellers Are Too”, author Richard Courtney humorously debunks the irrational thinking that wraps the brains of homeowners and wannabe homeowners tighter than packing tape. From my old wooden desk his views are quite funny, but in the real world of real estate… not so much.
Courtney’s point is not that anyone’s intentionally dishonest, but that truth is mutable. For example, the laundry list of buyer “home must-haves” becomes something different after viewing twenty houses in their target area and price point. And those sellers, armed with Zillow statistics and trusty advice from the FSBO neighbor who sold for 100k less, believe all they have to do is name their price and stick a sign in the yard, knowing they’re probably overpriced. Truth comes later, when it’s still on the market long after the open house balloons have wilted and the flyers are gone from the brochure box. And it stings.
The first time I meet with a potential client, I ask them for permission to tell the truth. Invariably they smile, nod and agree they’d want nothing less, but sometimes as the process unfolds, selective amnesia slips in. Whether the market is up or down, favors buyers or sellers or you like what I have to tell you or not, here’s the truth.
Sellers:
• Your house is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it.
• Well priced homes sell quickly, often over the asking price.
• If you don’t have showings, you can’t sell your house, and if you’re priced too high you won’t have any showings.
• If you’ve had 10-15 showings without an offer, you’re overpriced.
• The colors you chose to match your belongings look too personal once the moving truck pulls out the driveway.
• You may hate beige but buyers love it.
• I cannot make anyone buy your home.
Buyers:
• I cannot make you buy a home you don’t want to buy.
• If I could do either of the last two I’d be writing the book on “Magical Realtorism” from a beach in Bali *waves to cabana boy*.
• You may want everything on your “dream house” list, but you might not get it all. Hopefully you’ll come very close.
• Realtors want you to pre-approve with a lender because it is in your best interest, not theirs (though it doesn’t hurt me either).
• Buying a home without an agent does not mean that the seller will automatically knock my commission off of the price. (Better to have someone working for you, especially when they have someone working for them.)
Homes do not sell because you put a Saint Joseph in your garden or your Mayan healer cleansed your karma with a smudge stick and an eagle feather. There are more than 20 people in the average residential real estate transaction. When you are looking to buy or sell you need an advocate to manage the timeline, the deadlines and the multiple personalities. Dream homes are found and sold because you’ve hired someone who knows their field, the market, the law, and helps their clients buy and sell their homes every month.
And that’s no lie.

aspensAutumn looks golden for the Denver housing market, as sales remain brisk. Following the hot-as-wildfire spring of 2013, summer found balance with the seasonal increase of inventory, with no cooling trend in sight as fall turns in a solid start to the 4th Quarter. Home sellers are glad to be back in the game, while motivated buyers are finding a bit of relief from the frenzy as the after school market brings a more measured pace. The latest data from Metrolist®

points to an unseasonably strong local market heading into the fall selling season. High inventory levels and homes sold numbers coupled with a leveling of average home prices indicate an extended and robust local market. By all year-over-year comparisons, the Denver market is significantly healthier than it was at this time last year. Twenty percent more homes closed in August 2013, over 5,500, than in August 2012. “We expect to see continued high sales velocity and inventory numbers well into the winter months,” noted Metrolist President and CEO Kirby Slunaker.
Available homes on the market increased over 6 percent in the past 30 days, providing a stabilizing factor for the market overall. While the available inventory of homes and condos continues to increase over prior months, there is still less than a 7 weeks supply of homes and condos.
“The impact of seasonality may not be as significant as we’ve seen in years past,” said Slunaker. “Increasing inventory spurred on by a hot early buying season will continue to provide sellers and buyers prolonged opportunities late into the year.”

Average sold prices decreased one percent month-over-month, averaging just over $312,000, but home prices are up nine percent from this time last year. Meanwhile, the average days on market (DOM) was recorded at 39 days, down 39 percent from this time last year. The low DOM figure indicates a quick turnaround time and continued competitive demand for Denver-area homes.
Slunaker continued, “Rising mortgage rates have impacted the local market slightly, primarily in the mid-level market. Luxury listings are still seeing significant strength, while first time and entry level buyers seem to have taken the changing rates in stride.”

If the real estate market continues to look as good as the Denver Broncos… Super Bowl party’s on me!
TracyShafferSignature

all about eve
Working as a professional actress has taught me many things: tenacity and humility for one. (Ha!). Along with the starring roles and the smaller roles come the understudying gigs. They’ve kept me on my toes, fully insured and employed. Largely the experience hasn’t been in the glamorous, deceitful, clamoring-for-fame vein portrayed in the 1950 film classic, All About Eve, mine have had been more in line with the Girl Scout motto.
Three decades in the industry has kept me ambitious, created a strong work ethic and instilled a somewhat healthy insecurity that feeds my drive. Pounding the pavement, perpetually prospecting and practicing persistence is the perfect training ground for a career in the real estate business, but nothing could have prepared me for spring of ’13.
After Romeo & Juliet, my first foray into the First Folio, I was looking forward to a seasonal ramp up in the real estate world and my end of season gig at the Denver Center Theatre as understudy in “Other Desert Cities”. Shoulda been a cakewalk, it was not.
The rapid acceleration of the Denver housing market coincided with my ascension from understudy to starring role and the first audience in just eight days. (Actually it was a 5 character ensemble play, but ‘starring role’ does sound, well… more dramatic). Time to drill down and focus on my lines; stringing together the beads of this complex and demanding character would come later. I was hitting the wall as we hit our “10 out of 12”, theatre speak for long-ass day, when an offer came in on my hot Congress Park listing. Negotiating a deal and my way around the stage, I had to find my clients a replacement home. Dinner breaks became showing appointments, opening doors as my lines streamed through my headphones, I existed on chocolate bars and power naps until… “You’re on, Eve.”eve harrington
The show opened, the clients closed on their new house and the actress/Realtor spent a week in Vail recuperating, which is important as the pace has not slowed. The message of my Girl Scout leader, BE PREPARED, has a whole new meaning with the real estate market at a break neck pace. “Prepared” to drop what you’re doing to snap up a showing on a snappy place, “prepared” with a purchase contract ever-ready on the tablet, “prepared” to list a home on Thursday, hold it open on Saturday and present offers on Sunday. “Prepared” went from having snacks and water in your ditty bag to performing the above tasks for multiple clients, sleeping very little, and loving it. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home, or both, I still have some treats in the ditty bag. Mostly chocolate.

New listing in Denvers HOT, HOT, HOT WHITTIER neighborhood! Close to everything, the block is on fire with homes going in the 500s, this half-duplex has recent comps above 200. The perfect solution for the renter who wants to build equity or those who want an alternative to condo living with a sweet little back yard for your tomatoes or your ‘doodle’. 2438 Gilpin will be open Saturday 12-4.