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After you’ve finished your holiday shopping, why don’t we go look for a house?
Winter home buying has its challenges, but winter can be the perfect time to buy a home. As we head toward the snowy months, serious shoppers know their winter home buying power is increased by determination and AWD. Housing market prediction for 2014 is looking good and buying a home this winter might just be the ultimate stocking stuffer.I love me those cold weather clients!
Most people think of buying or selling their homes in the ‘high’ season, and while the balmy days of spring and summer are perfect for cruising open houses and power shopping, they also bring the crowds. In 2013 we saw a big bump in the Denver housing market:lots of buyer activity and low inventory meant happy sellers and buyers who were frustrated by the return of the multiple offer. Even when the market was down the notion that summer is the best time to buy/sell your house is one that is hard to break. After spring break, sellers prepare to list the moment the last school bell rings pushing inventory up and in the seller’s minds prices too. Many of these listings are sellers who want to test the waters, plant a For Sale sign in their yard along with the annuals and see if they get the price they want. But this supply side increase often works in the buyers’ favor or frustrates them when the fair-weather seller lacks the motivation to agree on a fair price. Sellers feel the same when sunny day buyers, indulging in some fantasy house hunting, create lots of traffic and little else.
Cold weather buyers and sellers are serious.
The real estate market is driven by many factors but the first and most enduring one is CHANGE. One of the most enduring reasons people buy or sell a home is because their lives are in transition. Though many plan their home sale or purchase, life happens without regard to season or convenience. Families change, jobs are gained, lost or relocated, promotions happen, marriage, divorce, birth and death– all create someone with a housing need.
Shopping or selling in a Denver winter are obvious– driving in show, slipping on ice, shoveling the walkway, taking your boots on and off so you don’t track sludge into the house, fewer showings– but the buyers are BUYERS and not just lookers. Winter sellers are ready and willing to make a move, and tend to price accordingly from the start. The slower season also means that lenders, title companies and appraisers are not so swamped, smoothing out the process and lowering emotion. And of course, there are fewer people submitting offers on your dream home.
As savvy shoppers know, the post-holiday season comes with plenty of opportunities for a bargain and that includes houses as well. Though we in Denver are beyond the clearance sale in our housing market, home prices are on the rise giving sellers more leverage as well.
Enjoy the holidays, spend time with your loved ones, take a spin around town and take in the lights. Then call me when you’ve got the ornaments put away and we’ll get the ball rolling.


How would it affect you if you could no longer write off the interest you pay on your mortgage?
According to panelists at Friday’s housing forum hosted by Zillow and the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate:

The burgeoning federal debt makes it unlikely that the mortgage interest tax deduction will survive in its present form. Of course, any proposed changes to the tax break for homeowners will spark a fierce debate over the fundamentals of the U.S. housing market, the value of home ownership, and consumer behavior.

“Fierce debate” he says? I’d call it a jobs-killer! But then again, I’m in real estate. Change is never easy, but when it hits our pocketbooks and the government, it really hits home. I advise my clients to educate themselves, talk to their tax professional and view the tax benefits icing on the cake. Knowing the long-term financial upside leaves them feeling good and more secure as they move forward with their biggest single purchase.

“I think it’s entirely likely that something big is going to happen (with the MID) starting next year with either administration,” said Jason Gold, director and senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Progressive Policy Institute, an independent think tank.

A Congressional contingent advocates for the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction to help address the nation’s debt and budget deficit. Obviously things must be done to right the problem, but sticking it to a Middle Class whose beginning to feel the effects of a post-crisis housing market recovery seems a bit harsh. At the end of this year, a series of tax increases and spending cuts are scheduled to go into effect automatically unless Congress acts to prevent or alter them. Revamping the mortgage interest deduction is on the table as a way to head off that “fiscal cliff” scenario. (I wonder how many of those guys have a mortgage.)

Two years ago, a bipartisan deficit reduction commission recommended scaling back the mortgage interest deduction, which is currently capped at mortgages worth up to $1 million for both principal and second homes and home equity debt up to $100,000 and the deduction is only for taxpayers who itemize.
The Simpson-Bowles commission proposed turning the deduction into a 12 percent non-refundable tax credit available to all taxpayers, capping eligibility to mortgages worth up to $500,000, and eliminating the deduction on interest from second homes and home equity debt.

Though that seems more reasonable to me than the first idea, the National Association of Realtors has consistently defended the mortgage interest deduction in its current form.

Highly critical of the recommendation and claiming any changes to the MID could depreciate home prices by up to 15 percent, they are promising to “remain vigilant in opposing any plan that modifies or excludes the deductibility of mortgage interest.”

So… we’re back to whose going to pay down the debt? And how.

The MID is a “tax expenditure,” meaning its cost must either be made up through higher taxes elsewhere or by adding to the debt, and it costs the government about $90 billion a year. Richard Green, the director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate, told forum attendees that reforming the MID is necessary for fiscal sustainability. “We need to get revenue,” Green said. “You need to make a judgment about what’s better or worse for the economy. In my opinion, it’s better to do it with tax expenditures, rather than rates, though you may have to do both to get to where we need to be.”
Because mortgage interest rates are currently so low, he added, “This may be an opportunity to do less damage by reforming the mortgage interest deduction than at other times.”

(I wonder what cuts would make this guy feel the pinch.)
The mortgage interest deduction is particularly polarizing because of the disconnect between how people use it and how it is perceived. Green gave the example of Texas where most people do not itemize their taxes (only about 30% of taxpayers do) so they cannot take advantage of the MID. This line of thought perplexes me. So… if more Texans itemized their taxes it would make things fairer? or does he mean that if they actually knew they could they would, adding to the deficit? And haven’t Texans done enough of that? 😉
No matter how the chad falls in the next three weeks, watch for ongoing and loud debates over the Mortgage Interest Deduction. *covers ears*

Source: Inman News, Andrea V. Brambila, Monday October 15, 2012


I am (where real estate is involved) lucky in love. I’m not talking about the beach house I got in the last divorce *winks* but how often I find Cupid at the closing table. It takes work to find a house with everything on your buyers’ wish list, but it’s nothing short of kismet when the brother and sister selling their father’s home meet the mother and the two kids who’ll soon be hanging out in the tree house their father built. Every home has a tale to tell, and when that love story moves from one chapter to the next as gracefully as a Jane Hamilton novel, you know you’ve made a “love connection”.
Manufacturing love stories between buyers and sellers… that can be a tricky matter.
Perhaps it’s the rise of social media, where everything is suddenly shared, or the result of Denver’s revived real estate market where the multiple-offer situation has made a comeback, but the latest accessory to go with an offer is not an earnest money check, it’s… The Love Letter.
I had a few of these cross my desk when the market was struggling. Sellers, desperate to sell and worn down by the reality of their diminished property values, were thrilled to hear those four little words, “We have an offer”. Until the contract hit my inbox, followed by a “We really, really love you house, we just don’t want to pay much for it” letter, which usually left a sour taste in and brought a few choice words out of the sellers’ mouths. I’d say it was the real estate equivalent of Fifty Shades of Grey; lousy writing and you know someone’s about to get screwed.
Enter the hero. The market shifted, and so did the tone of this tome. With multiple offers a common occurrence, buyers (or their agents) believe if they add a bit of folksy insight into who they are— Their years in Seminary, how he fell in love with the garage, she with the garden and how the shed is perfect for their chickens— that flattery will give them an edge.
Now everybody’s got a gimmick, I get that. The homeless bear signs—“Homeless Vet” “Dog-lover”, “God Bless” (complete with Ichthus), or “Will Work for Beer” aiming at their niche market, their tribe. Buyers try and create some commonality with the stranger who currently occupies their dream home, or perhaps they’ve lost the past three offers and are looking for something other than raising their price to cinch the deal. Call me old fashioned, but isn’t that the Realtor’s job? I consider it my job— make that my sacred duty— to not only find my clients the right house, but to put together a fair and decent offer and present it to the seller’s agent, along with a persuasive argument on behalf of my buyer. That is the opening move in a strong negotiation. If I’m worth my salt, of course my clients will be over-the-moon with excitement at finding their dream home, but once we bring the personal into an already emotional business transaction, I fear the salt/wound proximity increases.
This idea of including a buyer’s note is circling around my office like a chain letter, and I don’t care if the world will end in ten days or killer bees will take over the Volvo, I’m here to break it. There are plenty of opportunities for good real estate agents to share your passion and exchange drawings of the chicken coop. To a seller the passion you feel is reflected, not through an effusive statement that your Goldens must have come from the same litter, but by strength of your offer.

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.

I’m moving! Well actually, I am planning to move. Next year. That’s how long it will take me to prepare my current home as a rental, give the tenants in the other house notice, and most importantly, let my son finish eighth grade at his current school. The idea came to me this summer when my old friend/former neighbor/current client called to discuss her options regarding the inspection objection on her new home. “We’re sitting in the backyard having wine. I wish you were in the hood, you could come over.” And that’s when it hit me; I’m too far away from my friends! I’ve been rumbling a plan around in my head since then, but I knew it was in the cards when my thirteen year old jumped in the car one day and stated, “Mom, I don’t think these suburban kids are my people.” Oh, I feel ya, babe.
Moving to Denver from Los Angeles, we settled in to Congress Park for the first ten years. The boys went to Denver Public schools and loved them. I loved the sense of community I felt; summers under the elm trees at the Congress Park pool, cool autumn evenings on the soccer fields, and all the school activities with the kids and parents I was growing up with. I felt safe, and I felt loved. People got my sense of humor, we shared our sorrows, our secrets and our extra tomatoes when the gardens were good. As our family’s needs and the market changed, we crept slowly southward. I kept the boys in Denver Public Schools as long as I could but the daily commute in the winter was fraying my sanity and my tread. I began to notice my urge for the urban as I kept putting buyers into my favorite neighborhoods; Park Hill, Congress Park, Washington and Platt Parks, Mayfair, (I could go on) but never realized it was all part of my secret plan. Now that Gabe has decided he wants to forgo the big suburban high school experience to attend East with his best friend and the other members of his “tribe”, I’m out of the walk-in closet and all in!
I grew up in the suburbs, have nothing against them in general or my neighborhood in particular. Actually I like it here in this funky little sweet spot called Dream House Acres. Free from the covenants and cul de sacs that make me claustrophobic, I love the wide, hilly streets, the mid-century modern houses and the mountain views from my back patio. I don’t even mind the 20 minute commute when I choose to make it; I’m just a city girl. I need the proximity to the arts and cultural centers, the theaters, restaurants and farmers markets that pop up spring through fall. Most of all, I need to be around a wide variety of people and the sense of community that Denver offers.
Why do I bring this up, you ask? As a real estate agent, I spend my days and into the nights helping movers and shakers change up their lives. While I’m focused on the business of buying and selling homes that make these moves worthwhile, my clients are focused on the mental, emotional, physical and financial planning that leads up to a big change in your habitat. Following a page out of my own playbook, I’ve pulled out the Task Timeline Template which I lovingly bestow upon my clients.

I have completed phase one; Making The Decision. Phase two, Preparing the House, will take much longer; pulling up carpet, throwin’ down a little love on the hardwood floors, the painting, slight upgrades to the kitchen and baths…slight? Who am I kidding? And along the way,I will partake in my favorite slice of Virgo heaven— PURGING! When you think about it, there is no way to move without making a decision about every single thing you own. What stays, what goes, how many sets of socket wrenches do I really need, will I really wear this? Thank god I have a year.

Taking the time to wrap up the dishes and the memories this house holds, I will be mindful to keep the valuables and leave the rest behind. A fresh coat of paint, like a white sheet of paper, lets the new occupants write their own stories on these walls (not in the literal sense, I hope), as I move forward to the next chapter of life. Painting the new place.
If you’re ruminating on such things~ buying or selling, up or downsizing, Spanish Olive vs. Navajo White~ give me a call. We can share tips as we scrub grout and fantasize about the new digs. After all…I’m improving my skills just for you.

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

It took Dr. Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary and countless hits of LSD to learn one simple truth: Be Here Now. So what can the psychologist-turned-spiritual guru, Baba Ram Dass, teach you about today’s Denver real estate market? BUY. HERE. NOW.
With nary a trace of mind-altering substance in sight, I can honestly tell you that the time to list your home for sale in the Denver metro area is NOW.
“How now” you say?
• Because EVERYONE else IS WAITING until spring.
• Because buyers ARE out looking.
• Because SHOWINGS ARE UP and inventory is down.
• Because all FOUR OFFERS I wrote in January created a BIDDING WAR.
Now, we all know war is not the answer but in real estate, a competitive market results in sellers driving their purchase price above their asking price. At this point (Jan/Feb, so I’m being here this quarter) the demand exceeds supply and buyers are flying out to snatch up well-priced properties like savvy shoppers after Christmas at Filene’s Basement. There is simply not enough out there. And I’m not just talking of the under-$200-first-time-buyer/investor end of the market. A home priced at or around $300k is likely to move well, despite the common seasonal perception, the Super Bowl or the weather. On Friday, as constant snow flurries were rapidly accumulating inches, agents were rushing out to show homes in order to present their offer s before the “Highest & Best” deadline. (I know this, I was one of them.) Today I submitted an offer for a buyer on a property, sight unseen. The home fit his criterion and he’d been beaten out three other times, so today we take no prisoners.
If you are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the winter storm to pass before you list your house, remember… you could be pushing up daisies before the crocus pushes through the frosty ground. Now, I don’t mean that in the literal sense of the metaphor, but in the BE HERE NOW spirit.
If you’d like more information on the value of your house, trends in your neighborhood, or a yoga class near you, send me a vibe, a text or find me on Facebook. As the guru said…“We’re all just walking each other home.”
― Ram Dass

I’ve just listed the most beautiful home in Berkeley, one of Denver’s most sought after neighborhoods. This one is an artist’s dream, a gardener’s paradise. Click here, check out the video I made and let me know what you think.

Step into the garden


I’ve just listed a one-of-a-kind property in one of Denver’s hippest neighborhoods. Walk or roll to Sunflower Market, First Friday Art Walk and the funky/trendy/boutiques on Tennyson Street, quick commute to downtown and the most bea-U-tiful gardens! Take a moment and check out the virtual tour linked below.