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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.

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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

It’s late October in a very tight presidential race. Pols shift twice in the same day and the election is coming down to swing states and undecided voters, though I’m not sure exactly who these people are. The issue is not that the Democrats and Republicans have successfully laid out their vision for the next 4 (or 8) years, because neither of them has been too clear on that, or that I don’t think it’s really important and has a profound impact on my future, because it does. I know. It does. The issue is… I can’t decide. Really?
I consider myself decisive and spontaneous in general, but I am slow and deliberate when it comes to making the big decisions, gathering all available information and trying on perspective outcomes in the dressing room of my mind. When weighing out the cost/benefit ratio of a situation, what is it that makes one finally take a stand, or take action?
The word ‘SALE’ has some power over me, at least it gets my interest. Once piqued I am swirling through the— Do I need it? Do I want it? Does it solve a problem? Is it cheap enough?— cycle until either I buy or walk away. Even when that “One Day Only!” sale fills me with a sense of urgency, I know I can always come back…like to next month’s “One Day Only!” sale.
So what about the big things? Deciding on a president or buying a house? (You knew I’d go there)
I have binders full of buyers, debating over whether or not its time to get off the fence. Right now Denver Colorado is in the top five cities leading the housing market recovery. Home prices are rising steadily, foreclosures are in decline, inventory is low, the home affordability index is high and the money’s on sale. What questions do you need to ask yourself before you take the leap?
Beyond the “One Day Only!” hype, buyers who’ve waited for the market to hit bottom (so two years ago) have a sense of urgency to make a good investment before the window of opportunity closes. With the release of pent up demand (sounds very “Fifty Shades of Grey”, doesn’t it?) sellers who’ve waited out the storm have built back some lost equity and are feeling more confident their home will fetch a fair and decent price. There are more bidding wars and high-demand neighborhoods than I’ve seen in five or six years and that feels good. The crush of summer housing sales gives way to autumn when the market slows a bit, leaving the serious buyers and sellers. Its a very efficient time for me as a real estate agent, often producing my best quarter.
I know home ownership is not for everyone, nor is real estate investing, but when you’re in an historical sweet spot to buy and hold real estate, it may be time to make a decision before you turn into a pumpkin. As for that voting thing… oh, I’m not goin’ there.


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.

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”.

There was a time, early in my real estate career, when I would take buyers out “window shopping”, testing the waters to get a feel for what my clients liked, before they had talked to a lender. More seasoned agents would scoff, “I don’t let a buyer in my car if they’re not pre-qualified!” I felt this was harsh. After all, loans were easy to come by and “pre-qualified” lender letters weren’t worth much. (It’s a pre-approval you’re looking for, anyway.)
Those days are over.
Though interest rates are still at historic lows, loan approval is harder to get. Even those who think their ducks are all lined up may find something sneaky lurking in their credit report: that Victoria Secret card you forgot to pay in the rush to the alter, the seventeen applications you filled out to finance the wedding, the car you had to buy last month when you blew a gasket on the Civic and that FreeCreditReport.com service you’re paying for is not the same as the credit score your lender pulls. Other factors, like your debt-to-income ratio may be working against you if your credit card balances are high. Now that the market is hot, don’t let the numbers leave you out in the cold.
So when your agent tells you to talk to a lender and get pre-approved before you go house-hunting, assume she knows what she’s talking about. It will not only give you a pretty accurate assessment of how much house you can afford and what your payment will be, it will save you (and her) valuable time. I’ve found many buyers their dream home, watched them fall in love, and witnessed the heartbreak when what they thought was pre-approval didn’t pan out. Some lenders have you fill out online applications (a drag, I know) and zip out a BING! YOU’RE APPROVED! message without having enough information to be sure. Best practice is to set up an appointment, have an in-depth phone call, or follow-up on that online application with the necessary paperwork (tax returns, pay stubs, etc.) your lender asks for. Real estate agents are your best resource for mortgage brokers and lenders because we work with them all day long. We know who answers their cellphone at five o’clock on a Saturday, guides the loan through underwriting and shows up at the closing table. And we know who doesn’t.
These days, before I put a buyer in my car, I want them pre-approved. I also want them to schedule a clear window of time to look at houses and be prepared to write an offer on the first one they fall in love with, because by some miracle, in 2012 that house may not be there tomorrow.

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