Denver Real Estate Blog
Cinco de Mayo (May 7 - 8)
"A weekend filled with food, fun and culture, Denver's Cinco de Mayo 'Celebrate Culture' Festival puts the spotlight on The Mile High City's vibrant Latino population. With more than 400,000 attendees expected, it's one of Denver's most fun and family-friendly events." Learn event details here.
Furry Scurry (May 7)
"Your registration and participation in the Furry Scurry help the Dumb Friends League care for more than 20,000 homeless pets each year. Come celebrate the wonderful pets in your life and help those who are still waiting to find their forever family." Click here to learn more.
Mother's Day 5k and Brunch (May 8)
"Each registration includes a gourmet brunch from Goddess Catering in the park following the race for all participants. Again this year, we'll have race-time childcare, the annual kids race, a fabulous post-race expo, awesome prizes and much more that the whole family can enjoy." Visit event website here.
Colorado Bike Festival (May 13 - 14)
"The two day festival and consumer show will also include BMX flatland and aerial stunts, a play zone, adult big wheel races, learn to ride clinics, strider course, sprint competitions, demo area, Giro d'Italia viewing party, antique bicycle display, bands, beer garden and food trucks!" Learn more here.
Five Points Jazz Festival (May 21)
"The free festival celebrates the history of Denver's Five Points neighborhood. Once known as the Harlem of the West, Five Points was home to several jazz clubs which played host to many of jazz music's legends such as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and many more. Come out to Five Points to enjoy this free festival of music, food, culture and fun." Learn more here.
Once (May 24 - 29)
"Featuring an ensemble of actor/musicians who play their own instruments onstage, once tells the tale of a Dublin street musician who's about to give up on his dream when a beautiful young woman takes a sudden interest in his haunting love songs." Learn event details here.
Denver Day of Rock (May 28)
"Denver Day of Rock is a one-day music festival benefiting the work of Amp the Cause. This free event features five stages of live music along Denver's 16th Street Mall on Memorial Day weekend." Check out the 2016 restaurant list here.
Memorial Day Weekend in Denver (May 28 - 30)
Are you Ready to celebrate? When Memorial Day weekend rolls around in Denver, we really go big. Enjoy Memorial Day events and festivals (many are free), pro sports, live music, fresh museum exhibits, amazing theater and much more!" Learn about Memorial Day events here.
Five Essential Things To Know About the 2016 Summer Home Buying Market
This year has kicked off with an array of experts trumpeting the Denver housing market's strength and resilience. Inventory is at record lows, home prices continue to rise, and foreclosure activity has ebbed to lows not seen since before the 2007 downturn. Spring and summer is the time for selling houses. The months of April, May, June, and July typically account for more than 40 percent of all housing transactions annually, thanks in large part to good weather.
1. Inventory shortages: The number of available homes in metro Denver has plunged to record lows, thanks to both an abnormally small supply of existing homes for sale and a dearth of new construction not keeping pace with the current demand. Today there are only about 5,000 properties on the market. During the downturn there were over 30,000 on the market! The tight inventory makes it a great time to sell a home and a challenging time to be a buyer. With my experience and expertise I can help you with either. Call me and let me show you how.
2. Increased Competition: In addition to a dwindling supply of available homes, the number of buyers has surged. And not just traditional buyers - investors have comprised a sizeable chunk of the buyer pool since the downturn and continue to do so. Real estate investors are responsible for about 25 percent of the existing home sales each month. It’s not uncommon these days to see streams of buyers along with their agents walking into homes as we are showing property.
You, the prospective buyer, need to be prepared to move fast if you find a property you'd like to buy. "Buyers need to be patient because many will be outbid by others and might have to bid on multiple homes," cautions Jed Kolko, chief economist of Trulia. Yes, indeed.
3. Cash is Still King: Given the steep competition, all-cash buyers who can close a deal relatively quickly offer great incentive to sellers. "Cash will still be king if there are multiple bids because from a seller's view, they want a deal with fewer hiccups," says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors. My sellers are surprised to hear that about 30 percent of home sales each month are all-cash purchases. For the 70 percent of buyers who purchase with loans, strong lender letters issued by excellent loan officers are critical.
4. The Good News: Lending Tree chief executive Doug Leboda says in light of the recently unveiled new home-lending standards, lenders are slowly starting to make it slightly easier to get approved. Talk to a couple of lenders, they’ll tell you things have improved over the past few years on the loan front. Take the time to find a great lender -- it’ll make a big difference in your ability to purchase a property.
5. More Good News: We are seeing a definite correction in the appraisal business. A few years ago appraisers were consistently under-valuing properties, reacting to the over-conservative nature of their shell-shocked underwriter patrons. Today we are seeing the vast majority of appraisals coming in at value, killing far fewer deals than in the past.
Even if you don’t live in the Denver metro, March through May can stir up quite a few gnarly storms. We’ve already seen dramatic video of storm damage from around the country and we need to realize we could be victims ourselves. However, thunderstorms and high winds don’t have to be something to fear. You could curl up with a good book and a cup of warm tea if you take some steps before hand to get your home ready.
Raising the Roof
Even contractors look at the home top down. If a home is to sustain damage, 90% of the time the roof is involved. So, how do you prepare? Take a look at your trusses. Do they have roof sheathing attached? And, like many construction items, installation is key. This sheathing has to be done with ring-shank nails, which can double the holding power. If you are uncertain about the sheathing or the installation, it is better to seek professional help, as storms are nothing to play around with.
Just Outside Your Windows
Denver has some of the most amazing views in the world. Of course, we want our homes to have plenty of windows. But, no one wants those windows to be damaged in a storm. Storm shutters and storm windows are specifically made to withstand quite a strong storm. Plain glass windows can be damaged in storms, and become dangerous because they become sharp flying objects. Replacing them with double-paned storm windows could save your pocket book and prevent injuries.
In Colorado, we love our landscaping, that is for sure. However, be sure to cut back on tall bushes around your house to protect your windrows from broken, flying limbs. Take the same care to trim tree branches, so they don’t fall on your roof. Look at your trees. The ones that look like a “V” are more likely to break than the ones resembling a “U” at the branch joints. Are any trees dead? Cut them down, as they can uproot easily during rainfall and windy conditions.
Doors are another vulnerable area of most homes. Many doors don’t have pins strong enough to withstand really strong winds. The American Red Cross recommends adding more bolts to a “weak” door. This usually runs between $10 and $40. The large, flat horizontal slats on a garage door break relatively easy when battered by winds. If you install horizontal bracing to each panel, your garage doors have a better bet at making it through the storm in one piece. In fact, your garage door manufacturer may have a bracing kit for sale. Many do. For more information, click here.
When I was in college I lived in a house with five other guys. We had one standard rule that was intended for the safety and comfort of us all. If you had not showered, you were required to wear a hat as a public service announcement to the residents of the home. I have to admit this was a very effective means of communication and allowed us to avoid or accept our roommate’s current status.
While this worked great for a bunch of college kids, when you are showing your house to prospective buyers, wearing a hat or attempting to disguise nasty smells can ultimately leave potential prospects with a bad taste in their mouth. It can be worse during Denver winters when it is harder to air out your home. We sell houses year round, and while a closed home can be a slight inconvenience, it is easy to keep it smelling fresh and inviting.
Identify the Culprits and Eliminate the Odor
One of the biggest odoriferous offenders is food. Lingering smells can quickly become the focus of potential buyers. Make sure all leftovers and food scraps are immediately taken outside to the garbage can or put into the compost pile. Leaving them in the house only adds to food smells. If your favorite dish is fish, my advice while you are selling your home, is to enjoy it at a restaurant and leave the leftovers there.
If your kitchen still has the remnants of past meals or perhaps an overcooked dish try boiling a few tablespoons of vinegar in water or leave a small bowl of vinegar on the counter overnight. This will absorb the smells. The rule of thumb is, leave out the vinegar until you only smell vinegar then pour it down the drain. The vinegar smell will air out quickly and your kitchen will smell clean.
Is There a Fire Burning?
I love a nice wood fire in the winter, but the smell can permeate the house even after it is out. Keep the fireplace cleared of ashes and close the flue when not in use. This will keep the sooty smell from the home. You may also want to refrain from having fires while selling your home just in case someone is allergic to the smoke.
I Smell Feet
Often overlooked items in the winter are snow boots and cold weather gear. After a fun day of playing in the snow, these items can get piled up and start to get a life of their own. Make sure these items are dry before you put them away, or if you have kids and they are always wet, wash them frequently. Boots can be made to smell better with baking soda and in extreme cases disinfectant spray. For the most part, try to keep these items in the garage or someplace out of the main traffic areas.
Get Some Help
Most of us have no idea how our house smells because we have become accustomed to it. I recommend enlisting the help of a good but brutally honest friend with a sensitive nose. Have them walk through your home and tell you what they smell. Ask them to identify bad and overly good smells. While air fresheners may help, too much is like middle school and high school kids bathing themselves in perfume or cologne. Some clients have had great results with simply boiling some leftover Christmas tree trimmings and cinnamon every few days. It adds a festive touch to the air and gives the home a holiday spirit. Also here is a GoodHouskeeping.com article on more ways to eliminate household odors.
Unfortunately, you will always have to deal with last minute showings or even your own college kids, but if you are prepared in advance, you can feel comfortable leaving your home knowing it smells fresh. If you have any other questions about selling your home in the winter, please give us a call at 303-991-9878 or contact us. We would love to help.
Baseball fans, it is time to head to the ballpark! Colorado Rockies tickets for all 2016 home games at Coors Field are on sale now. Get tickets here.
Off the Clock: Vintage Victorian (April 1)
"Warm up a spring evening with food, music, botany and cocktails after-hours at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Taking place in the lush Orangery, tropical Marnie's Pavilion and Boettcher Memorial Center, Off the Clock explores plants with live music, activities, drinks and more." Click here to learn more.
Spring Break: Journey to South America (Now - April 10)
"Beat the crowds and get to the Zoo early, with $5 off admission between 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. any morning of the event. The Zoo will be celebrating all things South America with keeper talks, activity stations and cultural entertainment. Don't miss out on this Spring Break staycation to the Southern Hemisphere!" Visit event website here.
Sweeney Todd (April 8 - May 15)
"DeVotchKa, the Grammy-nominated, Denver hometown music heroes, take on the legendary demon barber of Fleet Street, serving up a delicious reinvention of Sondheim's magnificent musical thriller." Buy tickets here.
Earth Day Denver (April 22)
"Earth Day Denver is free and open to the general public. We especially encourage residents, employees, community partners, and teachers and students in the downtown area to visit the event and learn new ways to live sustainably!
2016's event will focus on interactive displays and demonstrations for the public tied to: My Home, My Work, and My Community." Learn more here.
Doors Open Doors (April 23 - 24)
"Doors Open Denver is an annual celebration of Denver's built environment and design. The two-day event allows residents and visitors to tour the spectacular buidlings they see every day but may never have entered. It allows the public to truly experience and develop a new appreciation for their home town and the facilities that comprise Denver's rich architectural landscape." Learn event details here.
Dining Out for Life (April 28)
"Dine out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on April 28, 2016 and support and important cause. Last year, thanks to thousands of diners and more than 250 Denver and Boulder-area restaurants, an estimated $300,000 was raised to support Project Angel Heart's home-delivered meal program!" Check out the 2016 restaurant list here.
Urban Wine and Chocolate Run (April 29 - April 30)
"The URBAN WINE RUN starts with a pre-race party on Friday evening to pick up your race package and concludes on Saturday with an amazing 5k run and/or a WineK (1k) walk with through one of Denver's premier outdoor venues all while enjoying the BEST PARTY IN TOWN!" Get more information here.
With so many Denver homeowners expecting income tax returns, home projects are on the “to do” lists of many of us in the Mile High city. However, everyone wants to have a little fun money apart from required maintenance. The best way to save on home repairs and upgrades is to save money on labor by doing it yourself. You don’t have to be in construction to make affordable and easy upgrades to your home after work and on weekends.
Renovating the bathroom is often quite affordable on a budget. With a few well-placed face lifts, you can modernize your bathroom for under $500. The vanity and basin really are the central piece to any size or shape of bathroom. A granite vanity with updated faucets and fixtures make the fixins’ of a fantastic weekend project that won’t steal your return.
Light Up your Life
Lighting upgrades are wonderful ways to touch up multiple spaces in your home. Want even more to do yourself? Pinterest and multiple spots on the internet provide fun and easy ways to create your own lighting, and give your Denver home a personal touch. In the library, make book lamps. Love the “wild west” motif in your living room? Try a cowboy hat lighting option.
Much like lighting and fixtures, a few small enhancements to the entryway of your home go a long way toward greeting spring with an updated face. Door styles change quickly, and Denver is no exception. Modernizing your door gives a nice warm greeting to all your guests this coming summer. If your return wasn’t that impressive, spruce up your door with fresh paint and fixtures. Each spring home improvements stores throughout the Denver metro run wonderful sales on potted plants to decorate your porch. Don’t forget about a seasonal rug to highlight the new door color!
Make the Kitchen a Focal Point
It is no secret that the kitchen is considered the heart of any home. Regrettably, it is also no secret that kitchen upgrades are among the most expensive. Picking a few cosmetic changes can be a work around on a budget. If you combine the lighting suggestions with new fixtures, maybe even repainting your cabinets, your kitchen can look completely new without making your bank account look empty. Consider an economical backsplash. It isn’t as expensive as granite or marble countertops, but is a “room-wide” upgrade. You can even choose among wallpaper, tin ceiling tiles, or wood work for an affordable but fresh look.
DIY Denver Style
Denver citizens love to work hard and play hard. With quick and affordable DIY projects, we can still keep most of the money we work hard for and still have time to continue with our play time. The mountains don’t have to be the only beautiful scenery. Our homes can be just as elegant a backdrop for the breathtaking views. Enjoy your weekend projects and stay safe on those peaks after they're done!
Recently I was speaking to a client of mine who was distressed about this "crazy new real estate market" and how "prices are just too high these days." It got me thinking about how important it is that I do everything I can to set the record straight among my clients so they can better recognize where we are in the current market cycle. For folks who are interested in real estate and might be considering buying or selling a property, understanding the big picture is critical. Critical! So here's where the market stands.
The majority of folks I speak with think this tremendous sellers' market and super tight inventory is something new and something that's going to come to a head and suddenly erupt overnight. Neither is true. Here's the truth: we are SEVEN YEARS PAST THE BOTTOM of our last real estate cycle as you can see clearly from the below graph. Just because the Denver Post is suddenly aware of the real estate market and Zillow writes screeching articles about the tight market in order to sell ad space don't be fooled into thinking this is something new. It's not. It is a logical continuation of a market that is reacting correctly to the overselling we saw between 2006 and 2008, dropping 25 percent during that period. It's doing exactly what real estate market cycles do, go up and go down over long periods of time. But remember, over the past 40 years residential real estate appreciation has averaged about 6 percent per year and there is no reason to think that it is going to change over the next 40 years.
We tend to erroneously think of market cycles in short terms, spiking and crashing over narrow periods of time and generally messing everything up. A quick look at the last market cycle shows clearly this is not how real estate works. Real estate cycles tend to move in much broader periods. Our last market upturn was from1990 - 2007, 17 years! This is why predicting short-term market movements can be very difficult, whereas recognizing the market will move in much broader cycles is more accurate. It's what we learn by studying real estate market cycle history.
Let's talk about where we are in today's cycle. We are currently seven years past the bottom. The past seven years have been a sellers' market with plummeting inventory, rising prices, nervous buyers often involved in multiple offers, and happy sellers more often than not getting the price they wanted.
But the client I referred to above was a potential buyer and he was very nervous. He tries to stay informed, reads news articles, watches TV reports and concludes the market is teetering on the brink of a crash and is therefore afraid to buy. And he's been thinking this for years! He wants to buy because his rent is skyrocketing, up 10 percent this year alone, but he's confusing the short-term media screeds about this tremendous market with the long-term patterns of market cycles, thinking that the minute he buys a home the market is going to crash.
So let me be clear: no one can predict the real estate market with 100 percent 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 seven years into what will probably be a very lengthy 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 6. 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.
You never know what to expect in March with snow storms and warm summery days. However, we have lined up some fun things you can count on for sure. Hope to see you out on the town!
Off the Clock: Kilts and Clovers (March 4)
"Celebrate the British Isles and all things green while warming up the winter with music, dancing and botany after-hours. The event takes place in the lush Orangery, tropical Marnie's Pavilion and Boettcher Memorial Center at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Savor special dinners at Offshoots Café and drinks at the cash bar." Get details here.
Girls and Science (March 5)
"Come and be inspired by women in science! Explore a variety of Science Clubhouses, where girls will meet women scientists and experience the many diverse opportunities a future in science, technology, engineering, art, and math can bring." Click here to learn more.
Riverdance (March 8 - 13)
"The international Irish dance phenomenon is back by popular demand in Riverdance - The 20th Anniversary World Tour. Drawing on Irish traditions, the combined talents of the performers propel Irish dancing and music into the present day, capturing the imagination of audiences across all ages and cultures in an innovative and exciting blend of dance, music and song." Buy tickets here.
St. Patrick's Day Parade (March 12)
"The Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade is unmatched this side of the Mississippi where more than 350,000 people will line the streets of the Mile High City." Visit website here.
Denver Home Show (March 18 - 20)
"The Denver Home Show is the only place for you to experience what's new in Home, Remodeling, Home Decor, and More! You'll have the opportunity to meet more than 500 experts and experience thousands of products and services." Buy tickets here.
Denver March Powwow (March 25-27)
"Since 1984, the heritage of American Indians has been celebrated in Denver every year at the Denver March Powwow, one of the largest events of its kind in the country." Learn event details here.
Bunny Bolt 5k/10k (March 26)
"Join us for the 5th Annual Bunny Bolt 5k/10k in beautiful City Park on Saturday, March 26th. Runners & walkers, don't miss Denver's only Golden Egg Hunt for adults; as you move along the course find the coveted golden eggs, each filled with amazing prizes." Learn more here.
Taste of Vail (March 30 - April 3)
"Rated among the top food and wine festivals by Forbes, Travel Channel and USA Today, Taste of Vail is held at several different venues throughout North America's most popular mountain resort from March 30 to April 2, 2016." Get more information here.
As always, we are here to help with any questions you might have regarding real estate and making the most out of your biggest investment. We look forward to hearing from you!
How’s the real estate market? Because of what I do for a living, I’m asked this at least once a day. I love the question because it lets me talk about my favorite subject: our always-changing, ever-fascinating real estate market! There are lots of different factors and metrics I can discuss when assessing our market, such as:
- Rising home prices
- Overwhelming consumer demand for homes
- A lack of inventory for sale
- New construction not keeping up with demand for housing
- Skyrocketing rents
- The effect gas and oil prices have on housing
- How low interest rates are continuing to make housing relatively affordable
- What parts of town have appreciated more than others over time
- And on and on..
But the thing I like to do most when explaining our real estate market is to show folks the chart below. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words. Please take a look at it and begin to absorb what it’s telling us. Everything you need to know about our current real estate market is contained in this chart.
What you see are two lines, a blue one and a yellow one. The yellow line shows the inventory (i.e., the number) of homes for sale in metro Denver every month from January 2007 to December 2015. The blue line shows the number of homes sold every month. You can see that the inventory peaked in July 2007 at 30,827 homes for sale. That was at the depth of our economic and housing downturn, when fear ruled our market, banks were being shut down, our local and national economies were in shambles, unemployment was rising, and consumer confidence plummeted. The result of course was that people didn’t want to buy homes; hey were afraid of the future and didn’t want to take on any risk. On the seller side of the equation, many home owners were getting caught with rising monthly mortgage payments as their Option ARM mortgages adjusted upward, so suddenly they wanted to sell at the very worst time possible. The perfect storm.
It’s simple economics: if you have more supply than demand prices start to fall and that is exactly what they did from 2007 to 2009. Around 2010 and 2011 the market became roughly balanced with 18,000 to 20,000 homes on the market. But as you can see the market did not remain balanced for long because the supply continued to fall.
Which brings us to today’s market. In January 2016, there were 4,286 homes on the market, nearly an all-time low for a January since records have been kept! This lack of inventory defines our current housing market.
The past several years have seen an incredibly strong real estate market in metro Denver and this chart explains exactly why. The supply of homes has vanished placing an imbalance in our market. No three dimensional, super fancy, "econometrics" model can do a better job of explaining the imbalance in our market than this simple chart.
It’s interesting to see that while the inventory line has dropped dramatically the past seven years, the number of sold properties has barely inched upward, even though our population continues to rise about 1.5 percent per year. This tells me that our demand for housing is going to stay very strong for the foreseeable future.
Applying this Knowledge
So, how do you use this information? It depends, of course, on who you are and what you’d like to do. Here’s a brief sample.
If you own a home and are thinking of moving: It’s an incredible seller’s market and you can expect to get top value for your home. You’ll need to consider the purchase of your next home though, and make sure you have planned the process correctly so you find the home of your dreams and make the transition from your current to future home seamless.
If you are renting: Rents continue to zoom upward to all-time highs so you might want to get out of the rental rat race and buy a home. Inventory is low so you’ll need to make sure you’re pre-qualified to buy a home and come across as a serious buyer, otherwise sellers won’t even consider your offer. But because inventory is still so low we expect prices to continue to move up for several years, at least until the inventory balances with the demand. So you can expect appreciation in your home purchase for the next several years.
Investing in Rental Properties
If you’re considering buying rental property: There’s no better way to build wealth than owning rental properties for the long term. Home prices have risen, but so have rents, and interest rates remain at record lows. Smart investors don’t try to time the real estate market; it’s as difficult to do as timing the stock market. The vast majority of Americans who have built wealth as real estate investors have done it buying rental property and having their tenants pay it off for them over time. It’s not complicated and it works.
Of course, everyone’s situation is unique. If you want to talk about how best to take advantage of our real estate market and see what it can do for you please give me a call. I love talking about the real estate market!
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.” - Ralph Marston
I have to take a minute to relive what happened last week at the Mile High Stadium. Fresh off the back of that amazing Super Bowl win by our Denver Broncos, the New Era team got to spend the evening with close friends, family and clients at the stadium in two of the most beautiful suites. It was a gathering to celebrate this amazing company as well as show appreciation and thankfulness to many people in our lives who each of us hold dear. We had quite an amazing 2015, and as we started off 2016, we wanted to throw a party where we got to mingle with some amazing people while enjoying each others company and the beautiful scenery of the stadium covered in all things blue and orange.
With drinks and food in hand, our amazing agents got to show off a bit that night and I would say it was well deserved. My good buddy Evan Bode created an amazing video of photos of all of our agents doing things they love, with the people they love, in the city that they love. We got to display this awesome video (above) on the Jumbotron for everyone to watch throughout the evening. It was fun to see people notice their photos from across the field and even take photos of their photos to put up on their social pages. As I told the other agents, this event is to show appreciation, not just to the people who are here but to you as well.
I feel very lucky to have the company we have. Chris and I know just how lucky we are to work with such amazing individuals who all bring their A-game to the table each and every day. These are people I am lucky to call fellow agents but even more lucky to call my friends and family! All of us at New Era work hard to make sure every client we work with has a great experience in either buying or selling their home. On top of that, we work hard to live our lives to the fullest outside of the office enjoying this beautiful state we live in. We know how important it is to have that work/life balance and we strive to help every agent do just that.
Finally, I have to thank all of our friends and families who made it out that night to show support for what we do. Without you all, we couldn’t do what we do as well as we do it; I know that’s a tongue twister to read and write but it is the truth! So from all of us at New Era, thank you for being our clients, but more for being our friends. Cannot wait for another exciting year with you all!
John Stegner and Chris Behrens