Latest trends in the Denver real estate market, new listings, stats, homes for sale, what to look for in a Realtor

And don’t we all need a little good news? Working in the real estate trenches I’ve been watching the steady turn around, especially evident in 2012 as the Denver real estate market took a sharp turn for the better. Today’s Denver Business Journal announced the data to back up my experience.

Colorado’s housing market stands out as the fifth-strongest in the country, according to the website 24/7 Wall Street.
Home prices across the state have increased by an average of 7.3 percent over the past year, putting Colorado between North Dakota (7.1 percent) South Dakota (8.3 percent). The ranking was based on a review of data from various sources, including the CoreLogic Home Price Index and foreclosure reports from RealtyTrac. 24/7 Wall Street forecasts Colorado home prices will increase by 3.7 percent between the first quarter of the year and the first quarter of next year.

Good news for the Dakotas, but we get to live in Colorado! If you’d like more information about your neighborhood or how you can make this market work for you, call, text, email or comment here and we’ll talk.

UPDATE: This house went under contract in 8 days. Buyers are happy, sellers are happy… agent is very happy.
Just listed a wonderful 3 bed/3 bath home in the Willow Trace subdivision of Aurora South. I really like the floor plan as it lives large. The master bedroom is huge, closets are bigger than my house ; ) and the second/third bedrooms are nice and roomy. Great loft space upstairs to keep the little ones close or use for study/gaming area. Over-sized two car garage with secure storage. Partial basement is insulated, plumbed and egressed; ready for your finish if you need more space and Cherry Creek Schools! This house is totally move in ready! Check out the virtual tour.

It’s the third Monday of August and I can’t believe school started today. It never seems like there’s enough of summer, no matter how you fill it. This year we took off for New York the week after graduation, spent ten jam-packed & fun-filled days, and then returned to Colorado’s wildfires and 50+ days of oppressive heat. Where did those idyllic summer days spent swatting bugs and camping on a lake go? Did they evaporate in the drought or global warming, or was I just making that stuff up?
My summer sons used to fill their days with parks and pools and tennis lessons. They tried baseball, fencing, went to soccer camps, tore up playgrounds and ran everywhere they went. Then came the summer of love… as I was frantically trying to satisfy their (or was it my?) artistic, culturally aware, intellectually stimulating and physically challenging schedules, they piped up with “Mom. Why do we have to do anything? We just want to sleep in.” I get their point. I love to sleep in too and with the freedom from school bells and missed buses, I can usually make it to… about seven. Three months of sleeping boys and selling houses gives way to the rude awakening as the laughter of the morning DJs hit my ear at 5:30.
Back to school puts us back on schedule. I’m up; I’m at the gym, home, showered, caffeinated and ready to take on the day. As autumn approaches, I begin to squirrel away my proverbial nuts, making plans for the year ahead and switching into high gear as the temperatures drop. Though summer is regarded as the selling season in real estate, fall and winter are most often my most productive quarters. And while that might feel like the salmon swimming upstream, I find the lazy daze of summer bring out recreational buyers who may be toying with the idea, and more sellers who want to ‘put it on the market and see what happens’. The cooler months coax the serious out of hibernation. Denver real estate stats for the second quarter were up and July looks equally promising for the market with inventory down and prices edging up. Fall, with its focus on the election, will tell its own story, but I see brighter days even as we lose the light!
Denver Metro Single Family Housing Stats, July 2012:
Active Listings: 9,087 • Down 35% from July ‘11
Under Contracts: 4,181 • Up 23% from July ‘11
Solds: 3,713 • Up 20% from July ‘11
Average Price: $312,920 • Up 5% from July ‘11
Average Days on Market: 64 • Down 35% from July ‘11

As a follow-up to my previous article about the housing market and the mainstream media, I thought I’d post this. Just in from
The Wall Street Journal it seems they’re finally confident to announce what we’ve been watching here in Denver for the past six months.

From here on, housing is unlikely to drag the U.S. economy down further. It will instead reflect the strength or weakness of the overall economy: The more jobs, the more confident Americans are about keeping their jobs, the more they are willing to buy houses.

Though one thing in the article is not likely to affect the Denver market.

The biggest threat is a large shadow inventory of unsold homes, homes which owners won’t put on the market because they are underwater, homes that will be foreclosed eventually and homes owned by lenders. They have been trickling onto the market, slowed in part by government efforts to delay foreclosures; a flood could reverse the recent rise in prices.

In Denver, the ‘Shadow’ is but a phantom. We currently have such low inventory, especially in homes priced under $250k, and our pre-foreclosure stats are well below the national average. Combine this with the Colorado’s swift foreclosure process and the fact that we hit the slump ahead of the curve, allowing us to recover sooner, we are not counting on a glut of “Shadow Inventory”.

Well, look who’s coming back around. With all due respect for the “Respected Media”, it looks as if they finally got the memo. Though real estate, like the weather, is hyper-local the mainstream types reporting on the national outlook finally figured out that the housing market is growing again.
Both The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times said this week that “it would appear that housing is making a comeback”. Of course, REAL Trends has reported eight consecutive months of increased housing sales and three months of increasing housing prices, while NAR reports increased unit sales during the same time frame and that prices are firming.
Until Case Shiller said that prices were turning around, neither of these news organizations would report such a thing; perhaps that’s just as well. It took them 12 months to report that housing was headed downward. In fact, they still report the downturn as occurring in the spring/summer of 2006 when in reality the beginning of the slide was in fall 2005. That is when unit sales began to slump on an annual basis. Yes, I’m being picky…
The media may not always be fair or accurate in their reporting on the housing market. Recent years of staff cutbacks across the nation’s newspapers have left researchers and reporters without the time or (perhaps the inclination) to really research any sources that don’t fit their preconceptions.
Overreliance on Case Shiller tend to mask a real turnaround in most housing markets. Thanks to consumers and investors alike, housing is starting the long road back to health. Those of us “on the ground” have witnessed six months of solid grown in the Denver housing market, with homes selling quickly at or above asking price.
Though I’m not ready to start the parade (my calves are still sore from today’s Independence festivities) or predict a huge breakout of double digit appreciation, the evidence is overwhelming that housing is on the way back. Could it be time to strike up the band?

I grew up in a Dream House; a California Contemporary, resting in the shadow of a graceful Fredrick L Roehrig home, built for publisher Andrew McNally in 1893. This home gave birth to the future Spanish Colonial Revivalist master, Wallace Neff, and was his childhood home. You can see from the picture where he took his inspiration. My home inspired me as well as I trace time, I see its watermark upon my life. Maybe it was the land, a Spanish grant called Rancho Los Coyote, or the publisher who purchased it and planted the 500 acres of olive trees, or the proximity to Disneyland that made me who I am today; writer/ dreamer/Realtor. It all begins at home.
Long summer days were spent in the ‘cement pond’ or playing Barbies on the warm deck coping. Is it any wonder I love Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, David Hockney and Dream House Acres? Check the vid and you’ll see what I mean. xoxo

Are you a first-time homebuyer but missed that big tax credit? Are you tired of paying rent or is your rent being raised to astronomical limits? So let me ask you this… If you thought you could get a good deal and a $2000 tax credit, would you like to own a house in Denver? Good news.
The City and County of Denver announced a new Mortgage Credit Certificate program that enables qualified borrowers to receive an annual federal income tax credit equal to 30 percent of the yearly interest paid on their mortgage loan, up to $2,000 annually, the city announced Tuesday.
“For many families, home ownership is a primary method of asset building and saving for the future,” says Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. “We’re providing a financial boost to individuals and families while increasing home ownership opportunities and the overall strength and vitality of Denver neighborhoods.” Lenders can use the estimated amount of the credit on a monthly basis as additional income to help a potential borrower qualify for a loan, the city said.
There are stipulations to the program. To qualify, borrowers must purchase a residence in the City and County of Denver and income restrictions apply ($79,300 for one or two persons and $91,195 for three or more). The maximum allowable purchase price for a home is $370,252, although higher income and purchase price limits are available in targeted areas. Participants cannot have owned a home in the past three years, except in targeted areas and for qualifying veterans.
Only certain lenders are approved to participate in Denver’s Mortgage Credit Certificate program and Paul Orrell at Megastar Financial, one of my favorites, is among them. Click here if you’d like more information about the Denver Mortgage Credit Certificate program, then shoot me an email. I’d be glad to go over your options.

Looking for to the warming weekends but not quite ready to head to the high country? Here’s a “Honey-do” list that will slough off those winter blues and spring you into the season. Whether you are preparing to put your home on the market or just want to lighten your spirits without breaking the bank, the first 4 simple home improvement tips will put you on the right track.
Closets- You’ve heard this a million times and you’ve probably done it only once. Cleaning out your closets can feel great, once you get over the idea that your favorite dress will ever come back in style or that you’ll really get back into a 2. (And if you did, wouldn’t you want to buy all new clothes?!) One by one, take your clothes out of your closet and toss what you don’t wear. Seriously. I’ve hauled things up and down from the cedar closet for years before I ever fessed up to the truth. YOU WON’T MISS IT. And the two things I regretted tossing, I forgot about. Now wipe down the baseboards inside and re-paint your closet white! Purchase plastic hangers (all the same color) and re-hang all of your clothes white to black facing left. Okay, there’s a bit of my control freakish mentality peeking out here but, this is like Virgo crack!
Baseboards- The lowly baseboard. Easy to scuff, last to get painted. Brighten up the whole house by washing and repainting these once a year. It’s one of those secrets that make a home feel bright and fresh. Personally, I assign this task to my children for any number of reasons. They like to make $$, they need to learn to do things other than shoot virtual zombies, and they’re already closer to the floor.
Garage- This one is especially important if you’re listing your home to sell. Clean out your garage! Ditch the rollerblades your kids have outgrown and the ones you bought to blade with them. I mean, those have only been worn once or twice, right? Once you’re clean, it’s time to paint. That white you used in the closets would look great, adding sparkle to the most under-improved part of the house. Power-wash the floors, hang your tools, rakes on that new pegboard and throw the skis up into the rafters. Now it’s time to shake out the camping gear, pump up the bike tires and you’re ready for summer activities!
Windows- One thing that I always notice about a new house is that all of the windows and window sills are spotless. Windows shine and make your home look the kind of clean that makes buyers bite. There are many products you can attach to your garden hose to spray the winter off of the outside and if you have a good squeegee, they’ll turn out squeaky clean. Now it’s time to tackle the inside glass and the sills. Those sills, by the way, need to be more than wiped down. Take your window cleaning solution, a towel and some cotton swabs to make sure you remove all traces of dirt from the crevices. It really makes a difference. If you’ve got an older home with wooden windows, try to make sure they all open safely and easily. Many times they’re painted shut or the ropes are broken: Buyers will find this out on inspection. And though it’s not normally a deal breaker, it will reduce your offer when a buyer calculates the cost of new windows throughout the house. There are companies who will come and make minor repairs or replacements and you can give them a new coat of paint once they’re gone. Just be sure you don’t paint the window shut again.
Okay, I’m going to leave you alone for now, I’m sure you’ve got enough to keep you busy. Remember, as your back is aching and you pop open that day’s end beer, that it’s the little things that make a home stand out in the market. Clean is one of them. Make that SUPER clean.

Saying The Denver real estate market is hot is like saying that the U.S Congress works together in perfect harmony…except, the first statement is true. It will take a while before Denver home buyers believe it, but it is a Seller’s market…and a buyer’s market, too. Huh?
It sounds like a paradox but in fact it perfectly describes our current Denver Metro real estate market. Here’s how:
In the market below $300k where 80% of the homes are sold it’s a blistering seller’s market. You heard it right, a seller’s market! There are only three months of inventory sitting on the market right now, where six months is considered a normal, balanced market. There are simply more buyers than sellers right now and this is translating into multiple offers on listings, sales prices often well above asking prices, and marketing times plummeting.

Particularly hot is the market below $225k, which has only two months of inventory. It’s not uncommon for a listing to have 10 showings and a full price offer in the first week. There are a number of factors that have caused this dynamic, one of which is the dramatic reduction in the number of bank-owned and short sale properties on the market. This reduction in distressed inventory has left regular home sellers in a great position and contributed to the sizzling seller’s market.

Ok, so we know it’s a seller’s market. Then, how can it also be a fantastic buyer’s market at the same time? It is, because according to the National Association of Realtors the Home Affordability Index is at its highest recording ever. Just like it sounds, the HAI is a measure of how affordable homes are in a given area. It’s calculated by comparing the median price of a home in the Metro Denver market to the median worker’s income level, taking into account the current interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan. What this means is that the median income earner can buy more house today than ever before. Why? Because home prices, while rising quickly, are still well below their peak prices of 5-6 years ago and interest rates are at never-before-seen historic lows. Take it all together and the average home on the market HAS NEVER BEEN MORE AFFORDABLE.

So, while it seems like a paradox that it can be both a great time to sell and a great time to buy, it’s actually quite true. Call me and I’d be happy to explain more how we got to this state in the market and how you can take advantage of it.

Denver Metro Housing Stats.
Single Family:
Active Listings: 8,082 • Down 40% from Feb. ‘11
Under Contracts: 3,329 • Up 13% from Feb. ‘11
Solds: 1,978 • Up 12% from Feb. ‘11
Average Price: $270,821 • Up 2% from Feb. ‘11
Average Days on Market: 106 • Down 14% from Feb. ‘11
Condos:
Active Listings: 2,004 • Down 49% from Feb. ‘11
Under Contracts: 821 • Up 11% from Feb. ‘11
Solds: 517 • Up 13% from Feb. ‘11
Average Price: $161,143 • Up 4% from Feb. ‘11
Average Days on Market: 101 • Down 22% from Feb. ‘11

…with all due respect to the Staples Singers
You’ve found the perfect house! Redone tip-to-toe! That kitchen with the gleaming stainless and the leathered granite is perfect, the master suite, divine, and the water feature will provide a soothing soundtrack for starlit summer nights on the back patio. It’s your dream house… until you see the Inspection Report.
Part “honey-do” list, part diagnosis, a home inspection is the best way to make sure your dream house isn’t a nightmare with a fresh coat of paint. No one wants to shell out $300-$600 to have someone crawl up in the attic and scope your sewer line, but believe me it may be the best money you spend in your home-buying (or selling) process. Last week, I thought for sure we’d fall out of contract once I delivered the Inspection Objection—it was the BIG LIST, and it had to be done by the seller if my buyer was going to go through with the purchase.

1. New roof
2. Sewer line offset repaired
3. Radon mitigation system installed
4. Electrical work on aluminum wiring
5. We overlooked the aging water heater.
So… now you know. What’s next? She had beaten the competing offers so she was paying a fair price, market value, certainly no bargain. With little room for $15-20k worth of repairs, especially on items which are considered “health and safety” issues, which can hold up the loan if left unattended, the buyer has some decisions to make. And I have some questions to ask, the one that tops the list…
Whose problem is it?
Thinking we might be at risk of losing the house, I sat with my client over coffee and asked her how she felt about all of this.
1. Do you love this house enough to stay in the deal?
2. Are you willing to do the work yourself?
3. What on this list is most important to you?
We worked our way through her options, she made her decisions, and I sent over the “final four” on our list of objections to the listing agent. “Do you think they’ll go for it?” my buyer asked, uncertain. “We know what you want, all we can do is ask“ (And I love the ask).
If a seller is motivated, your requests are not unreasonable, and the agents are good at what they do, chances are you can find a solution that suits all. In our case, that’s just what happened, but it ain’t always the case. So… how do you avoid the less harmonious outcome to this situation?
Sellers usually have a pretty good idea about what is wrong with their homes. The problem is they are used to living with that squeak in the floor, the drip in the downstairs bathroom and that little flicker in the dining room light fixture when the kids are on the computer. Many times, they’ll spend time and money preparing to put their house on the market, only to find a slew of hidden problems upon the Buyer’s inspection and a bucket of resentment along with them. It might be a good idea to have a home inspection BEFORE you list your property; that way, you’re able to make pre-market repairs or price accordingly if you choose not to. Buyers write offers based upon their emotional response to a home, but they walk away from contracts based upon practical matters. Chances are, they’ll feel better about a coat of paint or buying a new refrigerator than installing a radon system or a sewer repair. For Sellers, it’s “Be Prepared” and for Buyers “Beware”. In either case you will forget about the $300 check soon enough, but there will be that night at 2 a.m. when you’ll remember the mold report and wonder if it’s growing in your drywall… and if your buyer’s going to find it.