Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What are you doing for the 4th of July?

There are so many options for fun this holiday weekend in the Boulder area!


ERIE - Vista Ridge Independence Day fireworks at dusk – http://www.vistaridgegc.com/

ARVADA - Arvada’s Spirit of America Fourth of July Festival at Lutz/Stenger Sports Complex, W. 58th Ave., Arvada. Starting at 3 PM Classic car show, a military display, live music, family entertainment, great food and a fireworks display. 303-421-5305

BOULDER - Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast at Folsom Field. Gates open at 7:45 p.m. The program begins at 8 p.m. The fireworks display will be at 9:30 p.m. Additional event information can be found at www.dailycamera.com/boulderfireworks

BROOMFIELD – Great American Picnic and Bike Parade with pony rides, family entertainment, face painting, inflatables for the kids, a bike parade at 5:30 PM and fireworks at dusk. http://www.broomfieldrecreation.com/

DENVER – Coors Field - Colorado Rockies vs. Florida Marlins at 6 PM, Fireworks following the game around 10 PM http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com/

ESTES PARK - Fourth of July celebration with car show 10 AM – 3 PM on MacGregor Avenue between Elkhorn and Wonderview, patriotic concert and fireworks over Lake Estes at 9:30 PM. http://www.estesparkcvb.com/

JAMESTOWN - Fourth of July celebration with pancake breakfast at 7:30 AM, parade at noon, kids’ games, food and beverages, pie/cake contest, fireworks and live music all day. All proceeds benefit Jamestown Volunteer Fire and EMS departments. 303-429-1129

LOUISVILLE - Fireworks at Coal Creek Golf Course in Louisville - Fireworks start at approximately 9:15 http://www.louisvilleco.gov/Portals/0/Special%20Events/july42009.pdf

LONGMONT – Boulder County Fairgrounds - fireworks at dusk 303-441-3927

NEDERLAND – Barker Reservoir Parade at noon, fireworks at sunset http://www.town.nederland.co.us/

We hope you have a wonderful and safe 4th of July from everyone at Colorado Landmark, Realtors!

Colorado Landmark, Realtors

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Lending Regulations May Affect Your Boulder Area Home Sales

We all know that the real estate market and the mortgage industry has been going through many changes. With past mortgage fraud leading to an all-time high number of foreclosures, the government is taking measures to prevent deceptive lending practices and ensure that buyers are better protected and informed. In 2008, the Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) and the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) were passed by Congress, and the Federal Reserve Board published new regulations under the Truth in Lending Act. In addition, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac adopted the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), which will take effect July 30, 2009. These new regulations will affect several aspects of real estate closings.

  • Lenders are now required to use an appraiser from a national pool of independent appraisers from around the country. In the past, lenders maintained longstanding relationships with local appraisers, and were sometimes able to influence the values in order to secure financing, which led to some appraisals being inaccurate. The intention of this new regulation is to put more separation between the lender and the appraiser to ensure fair, accurate appraisals. In reality, it also means that the appraiser who is evaluating a property may not be experienced in that specific market. Before the appraiser is scheduled to come to appraise a house, Sellers should have any documentation about the house that might be helpful in the valuation – receipts for work they have had done, a list of improvements they have made and special features about the house. This will help an appraiser who is less familiar with that area deliver the most accurate evaluation possible.
  • Buyers are now required to receive a copy of their appraisals no less than 3 business days prior to the closing of their loan. The intention of this rule is to make sure they have ample time to review the appraisal and fully understand the value of the property they are purchasing.
  • The earliest any home purchase transaction can close is 7 business days after the homebuyer is issued his or her initial Truth in Lending disclosures from the lender. These documents are typically given to a buyer at the time of the application, but if the buyer and lender don’t meet in person, the requirement allows extra days for mailing (e-mailing isn’t currently an acceptable form of delivery). Again, this insures that Buyers have time to review all the documents.
  • Upfront fees that have been typically collected at the time of application can no longer be collected until the Truth in Lending disclosures are received, and the same rules apply as stated above – there needs to be time built in to allow for mailing of these disclosures unless the buyer meets with the lender in person.
  • And lastly, any increase in more than .125% in the APR from the initial Truth in Lending disclosures (which can happen for a number of reasons, including a change in the loan amount, an un-locked rate or a re-lock in a rate, changes to fees, etc.) requires the disclosures to be re-issued and received by the buyer at least 3 business days before closing.

Ultimately, what this all means for buyers and sellers is that parties need to allow ample time between contract and closing to address all these issues. Working with a knowledgeable, experienced Realtor who is up to date on the latest rules will ensure that your transaction is structured appropriately to avoid any closing delays due to these new regulations. At Colorado Landmark, Realtors we strive to be up to date on the latest industry issues to provide exceptional customer service to our clients.

This article contributed by:
Jennifer Fly, Broker Associate
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
303-302-8823 (office)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Louisville Street Faire - Friday Nights in Downtown Louisville

If you are looking for a fun way to spend an evening this summer, check out the Louisville Street Faire! Presented by the Louisville Downtown Business Association, the Faire runs Friday evenings from 5:00 – 9:00 PM and is FREE! Every week there is great live music and booths with food, beverages, art, children’s activities, and more. Music Starts around 6:15, upcoming bands include:

June 26 - Pure Prairie League
July 3 – No Faire
July 10 – The Informants
July 17 – Hamilton Loomis
July 24 – Flash Cadillac
July 31 – Firefall
August 7 – Hazel Miller Band
August 14 – The Northern Way & Roe

For more information check out: http://www.louisvilledba.com/street_faire.htm

See you there!

Jennifer Fly

Friday, June 19, 2009

Yet ANOTHER Potential Deal Breaker – Loan Locks, Buyer Credits and Escrowed Funds

In the last week our office has dealt with yet another new challenge in residential real estate sales. Two of our transactions have been at risk of complete derailment due to the increased lender “stickiness” that many people are experiencing in this market.

Consider these scenarios – you have a willing buyer who goes under contract on a property and locks in their loan rate for 45 days. You have a willing seller who has agreed to undertake some major home repairs in order to get the deal to close. With the two cases our office is dealing with, one transaction involves the replacement of an entire septic system to the tune of $18,000. In a second separate transaction it is some major roof repairs that will top out at $25,000.

In both transactions the sellers determined that it would not be possible to have the major repairs/installations completed by the scheduled closing date. So what? The obvious solution is to push the closing date out so that the work is completed prior to the sale. But this means the buyers would lose their loan rate locks. No surprise that since rates have increased neither bank would extend the buyers’ loan lock past the original 45 day time period! In both cases the sellers generously offered up several options: 1) credit the buyers with cash back at closing for the agreed upon estimated full cost of the work; 2) escrow funds at closing sufficient to cover all costs with any remainder going back to the sellers after the work is completed; or 3) reduce the purchase price prior to closing by an agreed upon estimated amount for the full cost of the work.
This time 2 years ago, or even last year, most lenders would not have had any issues with any of the above options. Not so now! In the case of the septic system, the lender would not allow the credit or the escrow of funds, but would allow the sellers to reduce the purchase price. In the case of the major roof repairs, the lender won’t allow any of the options, so the buyers and sellers are still trying to work out a way to get the deal done. The current option on the table is for the sellers to begin repairs prior to closing and pay the contractors “as they go”. At closing the contractors will provide written estimates of the remaining work and the sellers will put appropriate funds into escrow so the contractors will be paid that remainder upon completion. We’ll see how this works out. Speaking from personal experience, all of these options created a great deal extra stress for the sellers.

What’s going on here?? Why are lenders sabotaging these deals?

The crux of the story here is that the lenders have us by the “huevos”, meaning that realtors have to be proactive with their buyers and sellers. What advice and assistance can we offer clients in these types of scenarios? How do we earn our keep?
  • For buyers, get the longest loan lock possible from your lender. Do the research ahead of time to find a lender that is willing to be flexible should a situation like this arise.

  • For sellers, make every effort to get work done prior to closing. Start immediately getting bids, estimates and work scheduled within the timeframe of the contract. Have a pre-inspection done prior to listing the house to identify major issues that might come up. Repair what you can ahead of time.

  • For realtors, make sure you have strong working relationships with several good reputable lenders. If you represent the buyer make sure you communicate their loan lock situation to the seller’s agent so that all parties know the time constraints. For your sellers, encourage them to do pre-inspections and repairs prior to listing. Make sure you and/or your office have good resources for contracting - companies that you refer business to often that will give your clients top priority scheduling, reliable estimates and timely service.

It’s easy to blame the lenders for the challenges of our new real estate world, and maybe they do deserve it (ummm, maybe?). But the reality is that, like it or not, realtors have to operate within constantly changing economic and market parameters. It is our job, no … our RESPONSIBILITY to be informed, to be knowledgeable, and to be proactive problem solvers for our clients at all times. THAT is how we add value and justify our existence in this new world. A Colorado Landmark Boulder real estate agent has the knowledge and resources to successfully help you navigate through these tough issues.

This article contributed by:

Pam Metzger

Director of Relocation and Business Development


303-302-8839 (office)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Boulder MADE This List! 10 Best Cities for Recession Recovery

If you have read any of my blog posts you know that I love lists and rankings, especially when one of our local communities makes it on a good list. Fortunately for us here in the Boulder area that happens often, like this time in the RACE to economic recovery for towns and cities across the country.

Some cities are likely to recover more quickly from the housing downturn than others. And aren’t we lucky to live in one of them! Forbes.com just named Boulder, CO to its list of the 10 Best Cities for Recession Recovery in the US. We are all familiar with the cliche that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. This is true for recovery from a housing market crash too. Economists expect the national economy to return to growth later in 2009, perhaps as soon as this summer, and Boulder is poised to lead that recovery in Colorado.

Forbes used projected gross domestic product data from Moody’s Economy.com as well as unemployment figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and home prices, incomes and affordability data from the National Association of Home Builders. Because, in general, healthy cities were not victims of as severe a housing collapse, home prices were not used in ranking the cities poised for recovery. Well thank goodness for that! In the city Boulder real estate remains strong ... the median home price for May 2009 was $499,900 while the average topped out at an incredible $643,454. Lafayette, Louisville, Longmont, Broomfield, Superior, Erie and Loveland/Berthoud real estate markets all remain affordable options near Boulder with median home prices in the $200,000-400,000 range.

The Boulder area's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was reported at $15.6 billion and projected to be $16.3 billion at the end of 2010. Unemployment in the area is running a low 5.7% compared to a national rate that is creeping up just under that scary double digit mark. The University of Colorado provides an abundance of stable jobs for the region. Boulder is also home to a number of high-tech laboratories. Moody's projects the economy of Boulder will dip less than 1% before growth resumes in the first half of this year. My family and I were out Saturday night getting a bite to eat, and with restaurants like Jax Fish House and The Med telling us that wait times for our party of four would be over an hour to an hour and a half, it sure doesn’t feel like there is a recession here in Boulder! Could it be because Boulder is BOLDER? (yes, pun intended!)

This article posted by:
Pam Metzger
Director of Relocation and Business Development
Colorado Landmark, Realtors

Friday, June 12, 2009

Best Places to Live 2009 - Loveland, Colorado Makes the List!

US News and World Report came out with its Best Places to Live 2009 rankings this week, and lo and behold one of our nearby Colorado cities made the list. Who knew it would be Loveland, ranked Number 7!?

In 2008 the number of Americans that moved their primary residence fell to its lowest level since 1948, when the Census Bureau began tracking such data. Not a surprising statistic given a banking crisis, housing market crash, national recession and continuing uncertainty in the economy. But hey, this is America, right? Despite the above it IS still possible to find an affordable, pleasant place to live, work, retire, and/or raise a family. According to US News and World Report, our own Loveland, CO is just such a place.

Loveland fit the study's main criteria of being an affordable community, with a strong local economy, and lots of fun things to do. The population of the greater Loveland area is just over 90,000 people, making it a managable community to navigate through as far as traffic, schools, etc... And the location doesn't hurt either! Loveland is located within a 30-45 minute drive of the glorious Rocky Mountain National Park, the Boulder area, and Denver - everything is within reach. There are 27 public parks and 16 miles of recreational trails as well as 300 pieces of scuplture and two-dimensional works of art on display throughout the community through the Art in Public Places program. And Lake Loveland is a beautiful scenic recreation area.

And the Loveland folks are special people too. The local Chamber of Commerce reports that there are over 50 people on a waiting list to be "stampers" for the city's Valentines remailing program. 200,000 cards are sent to the city each year around this holiday to receive a special cachet stamp. 37% of the area households have children, and crime rates are incredibly low, so it is a very safe and kid-friendly place to live with excellent schools.

Living in Loveland is affordable too. In 2008 the median price for a single family home was $205,000 while the median for a condo/townhome was only $146,000. For the first 5 months of 2009 these prices have dropped slightly to $195,000 and $144,900 for single family and attached dwellings respectively. While housing remains affordable, median household income is high at around $65,300. Many major employers are within easy driving distance to Fort Collins, Longmont, Denver, and points in between.

For more information about Loveland visit the Loveland Chamber of Commerce or the City of Loveland. Many of the associates at Colorado Landmark know the Loveland area well, so if you are interested in more information please contact us.

This article written by:
Pam Metzger
Director of Relocation and Business Development
Colorado Landmark, Realtors

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Boulder MISSED the List - Say it Ain't So!!

Kiplingers Personal Finance Magazine just published their list of 2009 Best Cities, with the tag line that this year “It’s all about Jobs”. Well in this economy isn’t that the truth!!

I took a look at this list expecting to see one or more Colorado cities at the top and was shocked that none of our Colorado home towns made the list! Kiplingers’ numbers guru, Kevin Stolarick, evaluated 361 U.S. cities for their growth potential; he looked not just at the overall number of jobs, but also at the quality of those positions and the ability of cities to hold on to them when the economy softens. Employment here in Colorado, and Boulder in particular, has held pretty steady during the current economic downturn, so … I decided to look at the study a little closer and find out why we didn’t make the list.

The top ranked cities (in order) were Huntsville, AL, Albuquerque, NM, greater Washington DC/MD/VA area, Charlottesville, VA, Athens, GA, Olympia, WA, Madison, WI, Austin, TX, Flagstaff, AZ, and Raleigh, NC. Since Boulder in particular is often likened to several of these cities I wanted to see how we compared on each of the individual ranking areas.

Allbuquerque, Washington DC, Madison, Austin and Raleigh are all much bigger metropolitan areas compared to Boulder, which I think is a plus for Boulder. Who wants the fight the DC area beltway traffic everyday? You can get from one end of Boulder to the other in 15 minutes even at peak commute times. Score one for Boulder.

The statistic that really should have put Boulder on top is the % of Creative-class Workers. According to Kiplingers, creative-class workers -- scientists, engineers, educators, writers, artists, entertainers and others -- inject both economic and cultural vitality into a city and help make it a vibrant place to live. Compared to the top ten ranked cities, and all of the other Colorado cities that made the study, Boulder is second only to the greater Washington DC area for % of Creative-class workers, while the DC area’s population over 18 times bigger than Boulder’s!! Boulder shows 43.4% Creative-class Workers as compared to 43.6% in DC, a scant difference. That to me is amazing. The next closest city on the top ten list was Huntsville with only 39.7%. Clearly there is a significant brain trust that chooses to make their home beneath the Flatirons.

Median household income was the next statistic used in the rankings. Clearly a high median household income is indicative of local salary levels, which is a huge draw for people wanting to reside in any city. Again, Boulder was second only to Washington DC in this category – Boulder’s median household income reported at $63,064 compared to a whopping $81,163 in Washington DC. The next highest median household income was in Madison, WI at $58,090 and Denver was at $58,039. Madison is another college town, with UW often compared to CU in terms of the type of educational experience for students, quality of instruction, college town atmosphere, etc…

Four year salary growth was also used to compare the cities, and again Boulder ranked higher than all but one of the top 10 ranked cities. Boulder’s rate was reported at 12.0 while Olympia reported an astounding 22.0! Wonder when everyone will start moving to Washington State?? The next closest city to Boulder on the top 10 list was Hunstville with 9.7. Elsewhere in Colorado, Fort Collins made an impressive showing at 13.6, while big sister Denver reported in a lackluster 7.0 and Pueblo a dismal 4.7. Interestingly, there were some cities that appeared on the top 10 list, like Charlottesville, that reported only marginal salary growth at 4.8. So why in the heck isn’t Boulder on the top ten list – it should be!!

Not so fast … there was one remaining statistic that, in my opinion, was the killer for Boulder, and that was the Cost of Living Index. If 100 is the baseline, then Boulder reports in at a daunting 124. This means that goods and services costing $100 in places like Greeley, CO, Athens, Madison and Raleigh will cost you $124 in Boulder. Boulder being 24% more expensive is nothing to disregard casually, especially when it comes to housing. With an average single family home price of $725,617 in April 2009 in the City of Boulder, and $459,714 in Boulder County, living here sure ain’t cheap! However, not surprising is that the greater Washington DC area has a cost of living index of 138! Guess living near all of those fancy politicians has its price. Hmmm – would I rather live near the Flatirons, or the White House? Gee … tough choice … not!

What does all of this mean? In my humble opinion Boulder should have made Kiplingers’ top ten list. Three of the four statistics clearly place us on this list, if not at the very top. One factor that wasn’t included in the study, probably because it is too subjective, is quality of life. There are reasons that all of those Creative-class Workers choose to live in Boulder – yes salaries and salary growth are motivators to be sure. But the fact is that we live in a truly incredible place – astounding natural beauty, abundant and varied close-in recreational opportunities, vibrant downtown, great mix of local and nationally branded shopping, award winning restaurants, and a top ranked school system. Kiplingers, you really missed the boat on this one – Boulder should have made your top ten list. People in Boulder don’t need to read Kiplingers to know this, and maybe now they won’t bother to read it at all!

This article contributed by:
Pam Metzger
Director of Relocation and Business Development
Colorado Landmark, Realtors
303-302-8839 (direct)