Monday, August 4, 2008

Denver Market Poised for a Turn Around

By John Rebchook

Originally published 08:53 a.m., July 29, 2008
Updated 09:33 p.m., July 29, 2008

Denver-area housing is bucking a national trend, showing a price decline of only 4.8 percent in May from May 2007, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price index released on Tuesday.

During the same period, housing prices in the 20 metropolitan areas tracked in the report declined by a record 15.8 percent.

Only two cities, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., showed smaller drops than Denver. Charlotte prices fell by 0.2 percent and Dallas by 3.1 percent.

From April to May, Denver home prices rose 1 percent, matching increases in Boston, Charlotte and Dallas.

Mike Cox, of RE/MAX Professionals, said the Case-Shiller report confirms his belief that Denver's housing market will recover faster than formerly hot cities such as Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix and areas in California.

"You kind of don't know when you hit bottom until you have started to come out of it," Cox said. "In one sentence, I think what is going on in Denver is that buyer confidence is starting to return. And when you take fear out of the equation, things get better."

He said he thinks Denver home prices will be higher in a year.

David Binkowski, owner of Real Estate of the Rockies, said the report shows that "Denver is sort of ahead of the curve. I think things are stabilizing."

He said sales at his company are up 33 percent from a year ago and he is opening new offices.

"This has been our best year ever," he said.

Lou Barnes, principal of Boulder West Financial, and a longtime critic of the Case-Shiller report, said the overall Denver-area market is flat, with pockets of strength and areas where home prices are plummeting.

"The total number of home resales have fallen nationally from about 7 million in their peak in 2006 to about 4.5 million today," Barnes said.

"And the total number of foreclosures have gone from less than 500,000 to as many as 1.5 million this year," Barnes said. "We know that foreclosures trade at a discount, so that is simply a matter of arithmetic that with fewer sales, the foreclosures are going to magnify a price decline when figuring out averages."

He said Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight data, a government report that includes refinances, is a better indicator of the direction of the housing market. It shows a flat market locally.

However, Barnes said it is far from certain that overall Denver- area prices will be higher a year from now.

"There is so much riding on the national economy that it is hard to figure out," he said.

Liz's Word

Consumer confidence in the market continues to ebb and flow due to all the negative national press. The truth of the matter is that the Denver market continues to hold steady on pricing. Some properties, if priced right and exceptional in finishes-will go under contract in 1 day and to multiple offers. This particular situation just happened to my client and I while submitting a contract on a home in Berkley. We wrote an offer on the house the first day it was on the market and we were one of 4 offers. Unfortunatley we lost out to a cash offer- fortunately, that deal fell through and we resubmitted our full price offer. Thus successfully putting the house under contract. The real twist to this story comes on appraisal deadline. The value of the home was not of question to my Buyer and I as we had seen over 20 properties in the same price range and were well versed on the comparable sales. However, due to the ultra-conservative direction that the banks have currently taken, the appraiser valued the home at 15k under our contract price. Needless to say, we were all astounded. The good news is that we re-negotiated our price and my Buyer was able to get a substantial discount. Banks are having appraisers only go back 3 months for comparable sales-and it seems as though, they are also having them use the lowest comparable sales rather than the highest. Interesting times indeed. The moral of this story. . . .it is an excellent time to buy. Enjoy the following article on the current state of our Denver market.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Did You Get Your Tickets??

Mile High Music Festival Colorado, July 19 & 20
These Amazing Artists Are Playing:
Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer,Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Gavin DeGraw, Citizen Cope, Lupe Fiasco, OAR, Steve Winwood, Flobots, Colbie Calliat, Jason Mraz, Mike Gorden, Andrew Bird, Spoon and SO MANY MORE!

Mile High Music Festival will feature a tremendous variety of musical talent, ranging from established touring powerhouses to some of the hottest up-and-coming performers, including a number of bands from Denver’s vibrant music scene. Colorado has never before seen a music festival of this magnitude: hosting five stages (some tented), food from many of Denver’s top restaurants, an artists’ village and much more.

News From Hickenlooper Regarding DNC

(DENVER) After extensive preparation and work with local, state and federal transportation and security officials to meet Democratic National Convention needs while keeping downtown Denver open and accessible, the City and County of Denver provided information Wednesday about local mobility and access during the week of the Democratic National Convention (Monday, August 25 – Wednesday, August 27, 2008). Given that the August 28 venue change from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field at Mile High was just announced last week, roadway impacts have not yet been finalized for Thursday, August 28 and will be announced by early August.

“We have worked very hard to ensure that downtown residents and workers can get around and access their buildings with ease during the Democratic National Convention,” said Mayor John Hickenlooper. “We have said from the beginning that - while there will be some additional screening procedures and security measures in some locations - all downtown residents will be able to access their homes and parking garages, and downtown businesses will be able to remain open with access to employees and customers. Keeping the roads open and transit running will also enable Metro Denver residents to come downtown and enjoy the many public events around the Convention.”


Downtown will be open and accessible during the Convention. Nearly all roads will be open and transit services will be operational. The majority of Convention-related movement will occur via bus, foot, and pedicab/bicycle and before/after the main hours of activity inside the Pepsi Center (4 p.m. to 9 p.m.), thereby mitigating impacts on commuters. Unlike previous host cities that closed a large number of thoroughfares, the City of Denver’s commitment to local mobility and convenience is evident in the minimal amount of closures for an event of this magnitude:

• Speer Boulevard from I-25 to Lawrence Street (and the I-25 ramp to southbound Speer Boulevard ) will be closed from 9 a.m. on Monday, August 25 through midnight on Wednesday, August 27 – except during morning rush hour. Two lanes in each direction of Speer Boulevard between I-25 and Lawrence Street (and the ramp from I-25 to southbound Speer Boulevard) will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Wednesday. The I-25 ramp to northbound Speer Boulevard will remain open at all times.

• Auraria Parkway from I-25 to Speer Boulevard will be closed from 12:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 23 through midnight on Wednesday, August 27. The I-25 ramps to and from Auraria Parkway will be closed during this time frame.

• As announced in mid-June, Bannock Street between 14th Avenue and Colfax Avenue will be closed August 25 - 27 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for the Designated Parade Route staging area. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. – which avoids the standard morning and evening commute times – the westbound lanes of Colfax Avenue from Bannock Street to Speer Boulevard will be closed for the Designated Parade Route, as will the southbound lanes of Speer Boulevard from Colfax Avenue to Larimer Street. The eastbound lanes of Colfax Avenue and the northbound lanes of Speer will remain open, but some slowdown in traffic flow is expected. The RTD light rail line which crosses Speer Boulevard at Stout Street will remain open at all times, including the time allocated for parades. Additional security provided by RTD will supplement law enforcement officials to ensure the safety of marchers when the light rail trains cross the parade route.

• While still accessible to pedestrians, vehicular traffic on the following blocks between 15th Street and Speer Boulevard will be limited to residents and employees from Monday, August 25 through Wednesday, August 27: Wazee, Wynkoop, Delgany, Wewatta, and Little Raven. (More details on residential and business access are below).

Given that the August 28 venue change from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field at Mile High was just announced on July 7, roadway impacts – including the designated parade route to Invesco - for Thursday of Convention week have not yet been finalized and will be announced by early August.


The downtown grid has ample street capacity to absorb these manageable diversions and provide local residents and commuters with convenient access to and from downtown. Recommended routes for the four quadrants of the city are described below:

• EAST AND NORTHEAST: Drivers may access downtown from the east and northeast using Martin Luther King Blvd, 18th Avenue, 13th Avenue, and 8th Avenue.

• SOUTH AND SOUTHEAST: With northbound Speer Boulevard closed at Lawrence Street, drivers along Speer Boulevard south of Lawrence, as well as on Lincoln and Santa Fe, may experience slight increases in traffic. It is anticipated that slowing may occur on these streets as they cross Colfax Avenue. Commuters may want to use Downing, Clarkson, or Logan Street to avoid delays. Exiting Downtown may be slightly slower than normal due to Convention-related activities, but once traffic crosses Colfax Avenue, movement along Kalamath, Broadway, Grant, Washington and Corona/Downing should be similar to any normal weekday.

• WEST AND SOUTHWEST: Travelers may access downtown from the west and southwest using 6th Avenue or northbound I-25 to 20th Street. Traffic exiting downtown to the west and southwest may be a little slower than normal; however, with the combination of increased transit use and the absence of Auraria Campus traffic, any delays along Arapahoe, Champa, Glenarm and Colfax should be minimal. Once traffic reaches Kalamath, I-25, and 6th Avenue, travel should be similar to any normal weekday.

• NORTHWEST: Travelers can use I-25 to Park Ave West or 20th Street to access downtown. Traffic exiting downtown to the northwest should use 20th Street or Park Avenue to I-25.

Given that the August 28 venue change from the Pepsi Center to Invesco Field at Mile High was just announced on July 7, roadway impacts – and recommended alternative routes – for Thursday of Convention week have not yet been finalized and will be announced by early August.


The use of public transit is always encouraged, and downtown will be accessible by transit. The following information from the Regional Transportation District (RTD) applies to Monday, August 25 through Wednesday, August 27. Any transit impacts related to the Invesco Field event on Thursday, August 28 will be announced when they are finalized.

• LIGHT RAIL: Light rail lines coming into the Central Business District will not be disrupted, including lines D, F and H. There will be no light rail service to or from the Pepsi Center and Denver Union Station stops. Passengers on the C and E lines who want to travel downtown can transfer to the D, F and H lines. All C- and E-line light rail passengers will be required to disembark at the Invesco Field light rail stop.

• BUSES: RTD plans to run normal bus service during the Convention, adjusting routes impacted by street closures. RTD will provide information on these adjustments as they are finalized through its web site, the RTD Telephone Information Center, and information will be posted on buses and light rail.


Between street parking, parking lots and garages, downtown parking will be largely accessible.
• The majority of downtown street meters will remain unbagged and available for public use. (Please note that vehicles with disability placards may park at any unbagged meter for up to four hours – whether or not the meter is designated for disabled parking).

Because many commercial buildings directly adjacent to the Pepsi Center have been rented out by private organizations during the Convention week, only a few businesses will be impacted by the screening and access measures described below:

• Residents (and their caretakers or renters, if applicable) and businesses (and their employees) west of 15th Street along Wynkoop, Delgany and Wewatta will receive vehicle placards from the Secret Service enabling them to access their normally assigned parking spots. There will be no pedestrian restrictions in this area, so visitors will be able to come and go on foot.

• Residents (and their caretakers or renters, if applicable) in the small area bound by Speer Boulevard, Wazee Street and 14th Court will receive vehicle placards from Secret Service enabling them to park in their normally assigned parking spots after undergoing vehicle screening at a 24-hour checkpoint. There will be no pedestrian restrictions in this area, so visitors will be able to come and go on foot.

• Residents (and their caretakers or renters, if applicable) and businesses (and their employees) in the area bound by 11th Street, Auraria Parkway, Speer Boulevard and the Pepsi Center will receive personal credentials from the Secret Service, enabling them to come and go by foot with ease. Placards will also be provided for their vehicles enabling them to park in their normally assigned parking spots after undergoing vehicle screening at a 24-hour checkpoint. Individuals renting any of these units during the Convention may undergo the same registration process to obtain these access documents. Residents in this area expecting guests will be asked to meet them on the street and escort them into their building.


Beginning with a community meeting tonight hosted by the LoDo District, Inc., Downtown Denver Residents Organization, and the Lower Downtown Neighborhood Association, targeted outreach will take place in the coming weeks to residents, businesses, building managers and homeowners associations in the aforementioned areas, providing details on the registration/ credentialing process and answering questions about access and mobility. That outreach will also include another LoDo community meeting at Ocean Journey on July 23 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Five additional citywide community forums about DNC preparations and opportunities for local residents to participate – hosted by the City and County of Denver and the Denver 2008 Convention Host Committee – will take place over the next three weeks:

 Central Denver: July 26 (12 – 2:00 p.m.)
Curious Theatre, 1080 Acoma St.

 SE Denver: July 28 (12 – 2:00 p.m.)
Temple Sinai, 3509 S. Glencoe St.

 SW Denver: July 29 (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
SW Improvement Council, 1000 S. Lowell Blvd.

 NW Denver: July 30 (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
North High School, 2960 N. Speer Blvd.

 NE Denver: August 6 (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St.

Once roadway impacts related to the Thursday, August 28 event at Invesco Field at Mile High are finalized, additional community outreach will be conducted to residents and businesses near the stadium.

Good News From Lenders

For the first few months of 2008 the best news in real estate has concerned mortgages. With interest levels bobbing around 6 percent for 30-year fixed-rate loans, those who want to buy or refinance at this time will find interest rates not terribly far-removed from the historic lows seen in 2003.

The mortgage rates seen today are important because what they say is the lender confidence in the U.S. real estate marketplace remains strong. Despite massive numbers of foreclosures -- and more to come -- lenders are nevertheless willing to extend credit to U.S. homeowners.

The catch is that loans terms have changed. This is neither bad nor unexpected, but it does mean that to get 6-percent financing borrower's will have to take steps that would have been unnecessary 12 months ago.

For instance, stated-income mortgage applications -- those so-called "liar loans" where borrowers estimated income and lenders politely didn't check -- are a vanishing species. Such applications make lenders nervous and are a sure path to higher rates. Why stated-income loan applications did not make lenders nervous before is one of the great financial mysteries of our time.

Down payments are back. The old days of buying with little or nothing down are largely gone. For instance, earlier this year the big mortgage insurer, PMI Group, announced that it would no longer back loans with less than 3 percent up-front.

Last Friday, Fannie Mae announced that it would adopt a stance similar to PMI -- 3 percent down if the loan is underwritten with Fannie Mae's automated system but no less than 5 percent down if the underwriting was done with someone else's computer program.

The new "Single National Down Payment Policy" replaces a tougher policy announced by Fannie Mae late last year. At that time Fannie Mae said it would increase down payment requirements by 5 percent in so-called "declining" markets, areas where home prices were expected to fall further.

The "declining" markets policy, which will likely now end for the remaining companies that use such a standard, had problems from day one. Why?

First, the policy looked at broad areas which may not have reflected pricing trends within individual communities and neighborhoods.

Second, by tagging large areas as "declining" the policy raised down payment requirements for huge numbers of homes -- thus creating slower markets and weaker prices.

So yes, 6 percent financing is out there and lenders want your business. But the rules have changed, so be prepared for more paperwork, steeper down payment requirements when you buy and the need for more equity when you refinance.

Colorado adds 5,100 jobs in month's time

Colorado ranks third in the nation for month-over-month employment increases, with the addition of 5,100 new jobs between February and March, the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.
Texas was first, with 13,200, and Minnesota was second, with 5,200.
Colorado's employment growth amounted to 0.2 percent, tying for sixth place with six other states.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics said employment increased in 22 states, decreased in 27 states and Washington, D.C., and was unchanged in one state: Maine. The national employment rate increased to 5.1 percent in March from 4.8 percent in February and 4.4 percent in March 2007.
In Colorado, the jobless rate was unchanged from February at 4.4 percent but increased from 3.7 percent in March 2007.
Colorado ranked fifth among states with "statistically significant employment changes" during the past year, with the addition of 40,400 jobs. The preliminary figures for March 2008, which are seasonally adjusted, show Colorado's employees on nonfarm payrolls grew to 2.35 million jobs from 2.31 million jobs since March 2007. Of the industry sectors included in the report, only one -- covering financial activities -- showed a loss in jobs from February. The sector was down by 100 jobs.
Texas had the highest jump in jobs, with another 213,500 added to the rolls, followed by New York, Washington and North Carolina.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics counted Colorado's civilian labor force ¬-- defined as anyone 16 or older who isn't in prison or the military but is employed or looking for work -- at nearly 2.77 million people, up from 2.76 million in February. The ranks of the unemployed increased by 500 to 121,500 in March.

Nine ways to enhance a home's curb appeal

Cosmetic fixes that can put a prettier face on a plain-Jane home will pay for themselves - and then some

Just as every mother believes her son is a handsome devil, we homeowners tend to see the best in our houses - or at least we become comfortably familiar with the way they look.
But let's face it, to the objective eye, not every man is George Clooney and not every house is a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. There are a lot of drab, even downright gloomy facades out there - especially among homes built after World War II, when many builders abandoned traditional architectural styling to streamline costs and mass-produce housing.
Thankfully, the cosmetic surgery required to put a beautiful face on your home won't hurt a bit. It doesn't even require a big-ticket construction job. "Creating curb appeal isn't about trying to transform the house from, say, a plain-Jane ranch into a grand Victorian," says Charlotte, Vt. architect Ted Montgomery. "Just changing one or two little details is all it takes."
You can find your inspiration by looking at similar houses in the neighborhood - or by hiring an architect to offer suggestions ($300 to $500) and maybe sketch a plan (add $300 to $500). You'll boost your home pride, endear yourself to the neighbors and generate a lot more interest from buyers someday when your house goes on the market.
Subtract flaws
Assuming the house and yard are already well maintained, job one is to get rid of unsightly blemishes left by a penny-pinching builder or the misguided remodeling efforts of previous owners.
Replace the garage doors. The most prominent facial feature of many homes is a pair of big garage doors - which all too often are flat, lackluster slabs of steel or vinyl. Trade them for more visually appealing doors with moldings, windows or an old-fashioned carriage-house look ($2,000 to $5,000 a door, including labor). See and for examples.
Remove siding. Sometimes ugliness is only skin-deep. "Peek under dreary aluminum, vinyl or asbestos siding and you may find well-preserved wood clapboards hiding underneath," says Asheville, N.C. architect Jane Mathews. If so, remove the siding, repair the old wood and give the house an attractive paint job ($10,000 to $20,000). If not, you could paint the siding or replace it with fiber cement siding (see image), a no-maintenance product that looks like real wood ($15,000 to $25,000).
Lose the funky railings. Swap out bad porch or stoop railings - such as black iron bars and chunky pressure-treated decking components - for visually interesting banisters and spindles that are worthy of their prominent placement at the front of the house ($1,000 to $3,000).
Add character
Like a dimple or a cleft chin, the addition of an interesting architectural element can give your house some distinctiveness.
Install a salvaged door. The typical postwar front door is decidedly dull, but the entry should be the focal point of your house, says Corvallis, Ore. architect Lori Stephens. For interesting replacements, troll an architectural salvage yard (the directory at can help you locate one). Consider a recycled mission-style oak door, a six-panel colonial with blown-glass windows, or arch-top French doors ($200 to $800; more if you're converting to an arch top).
Add moldings. Many newer homes lack exterior trim; the siding just butts up against the windows and doors. A contractor can give the house a more sophisticated, traditional look by cutting back that siding and slipping in wide, flat moldings around the openings and possibly at the corners of the house and between its stories ($3,000 to $4,000). Consider using a synthetic product like cellular PVC for your moldings, which looks like wood but will never rot.
Enhance the roof. A straight, un-adorned roofline makes a house look about as interesting as a shipping container. So consider adding one or more windowed dormers (gabled peaks) or extending the eaves (the roof overhang) a few feet beyond the front of the house with detailed moldings on the under-side ($2,500 to $6,000 per dormer or eave extension). This is major surgery though; do not attempt it without first getting an architect's input.
Multiply the effect
Invasive procedures aren't always necessary. Just adding the right accents can transform your home's outer look - not unlike a pair of stylish new specs or a good haircut.
Replace light fixtures and hardware. Lose generic shiny brass or black house numbers, mailbox and porch lights (especially bare-bulb fixtures) and substitute something unique and substantial, perhaps made of antiqued copper, bronze or brushed nickel ($20 to $75 each). For ideas, see and
Plan for a nonstop flower show. Most of the flowers in your yard probably bloom in the late spring, which makes for a beautiful May - or whenever the big show happens in your climate - but leaves you with a bland yard for the other 10 or 11 months of the year. A local nursery can help you choose and plant additional bulbs, shrubs and trees with different bloom times (as well as plants with colorful autumn foliage and winter berries), so there'll always be something performing in the yard ($50 to $250 a shrub, $500 to $1,500 a tree).
Add color. A paint job ($2,000 to $10,000) in pleasing hues can make any structure appealing. "But don't choose a bright, high-contrast color scheme - that only exaggerates a house's flaws," Montgomery warns.
For subtler suggestions, check out the book "House Colors" by Susan Hershman ($23 at or go for the colors of nature - muted greens, deep reds or pale yellows - and keep the body and trim close in color. That will give your home a friendly, peaceful look rather than making it say, "Hey, look at me." Sort of like an average-looking guy choosing a simple charcoal suit instead of a flashy powder blue one that only a Hollywood star could pull off

How to cultivate a 'green mortgage'

Environmentally friendly home loans aimed saving energy reducing carbon

Recycling soda cans, using phosphate-free cleansers and making smart transportation choices can all improve the environment. But did you know that applying for a home loan also offers a chance to further the environmental cause?
“What many people don’t realize is that homes account for about 21 percent of our greenhouse emissions,” says Steve Baden, executive director of Residential Energy Services Network, which maintains certification standards for home energy ratings.
This is why improving home energy efficiency matters. And given the rising cost of heating and cooling homes, it can also matter to household finances.
Brian Berg, vice president for corporate communications at ShoreBank in Chicago, says consumers can save up to 45 percent off their monthly utility bills with an investment of just a few thousand dollars.
"This is why when someone comes to us for a mortgage or home improvement loan, we talk to them about how adding a ‘green’ element to their request might make more financial sense over the long run," says Joel Freehling, ShoreBank’s manager of "triple bottom line innovation."
(The "triple bottom line" refers to benefits for the bank, the community and the environment.)
These green conversations include talking about what it would take to make the borrower's home more energy efficient — from spending a few additional dollars and hours caulking to choosing qualified appliances and building materials. The idea is to help identify where the borrower can get the biggest bang for their borrowed bucks.
While the bank may wind up booking a larger loan than originally requested to cover the added energy improvements, it does so only to the extent that projected lower utility costs will offset the higher loan costs.
This should leave the customer in a better financial position to repay the loan. The home itself not only becomes more comfortable to live in but easier to sell — and potentially more valuable — due to its energy efficiency. Along the way, the community-at-large, not to mention the environment, benefit from lowered carbon emissions.
This is what makes the lending "green."
Anyone can lend green
Green mortgages — known as Energy Efficient Mortgages or Energy Improvement Mortgages — are not new. They trace their lineage back to the days of the Carter administration.
Nor are they unique to banks like ShoreBank, which holds its mortgages in its own portfolio, giving it greater flexibility in tailoring loans to each borrower’s circumstance. Theoretically, any conventional lender has the ability to go green.
That is because all the usual suspects — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and HUD — provide lenders with underwriting standards for structuring green loans to conform for resale into the secondary market.
The key difference between a "green" loan vs. a conventional one from a borrower’s perspective is that it requires an extra step — an energy audit. This can cost a few hundred dollars and may delay processing by a few days. But the audit’s cost can be rolled into the loan. Also, rebates and incentives are often available to offset the cost of the audit.
"There has been nothing special about the process over that of doing a conventional financing," says Lan Richart, who along with his wife, Pam, recently used ‘green’ financing to purchase and fund renovation of a multi-unit building in Chicago. "Actually, the energy audit would have been worth it even if the bank had not paid for it." The audit pinpointed ways they could further boost the building’s energy efficiency

Liz's Word

To use a cliché', is your glass half empty or half full?

Yeah, gas prices are $4+ a gallon, whispers of the "r" word are becoming more prevalent (recession), food prices and the over all costs of living continue to rise . . . but I like to think that with every challenge there is an opportunity to grow and make your life better. It's all about your perspective.
The same goes for our real estate market. Keep in mind that doom and gloom makes great headlines. Also keep in mind that much of what is reported on is on a national level. The realty is that central Denver real estate sales prices are holding steady. Interest rates are lower than they have been in 6 years and there is a lot of inventory to choose from. Put simply, this is indeed the time to buy real estate.
As for gas prices . . . maybe its time that we all become more mindful of our consumption. I know that it has changed some of my behavior patterns. I’m riding my bike more and carpooling when possible.
As for food prices . . . my next step will be to grow a vegetable garden. Yes, I’m serious. I think the chicken coop will have to wait . . .

Gilpin Grove. . Check out the progress!

Only 5 Units remain!
Get your groove on at the Grove!
Where Big Sur influences meets Denver city living.
3bed/3bath, 1486 square feet, SPROCKET designed town homes in Uptown. 2 car attached garage, 2nd and 3rd floor balconies, modern design, and killer location. $50 per month HOA. Fab UPtown neighborhood

LoHi Cute as a Button Condo

3211 Zuni
756 Sq Ft
2 story condo in the heart of Highlands Square! 1 bedroom and 1 1/2 bath, slab granite, stainless steel, and hardwood floors. This home not only boasts a great location, it has all you need! Washer and Dryer in unit, a commons courtyard, and secure entry! Come check it out today!

1200 Delaware

Add one of these townhomes to your art collection. Uber modern living in Denver's Golden Triangle. European Contemporary design, over 2,200 SqFt of living space, 3 bedrooms, "smart home" capabilities, master suites w/ oversized soaking tubs and views. The most appealing features are the expansive rooftop decks with unparalleled 360 degree views and reinforcements designed to sustain the weight of a hot tub.
Only 4 remain...Come discover your downtown Denver dream home today

3100 Huron

Jack Kerouac Lofts
1304 square feet
2 baths, 1 garage space, 12ft ceilings, balcony, south east corner unit, Berloni Cabinetry,Hardwoods thruout, stainless steel appliances, walk in closet, custom wiring.

Coming Soon!

LoHi Luxury Flats
Viking appliances, sophisticated mix of urban chic and classic loft living. Floor to ceiling glass window-12ft ceilings, wide plank oak floors.
32nd & for details.

Only One Left! LoHi Uber MOD Town Homes

Highland Outlook

3 bedroom, 3 bath townhome in Lower Highland. Only blocks from the newly constructed pedestrian bridge. This property has it all! Amazing city views-second and third floor spacious balconies, 2 car oversized garage, private yard, and no HOA's

Bromwell School District!

3 bedrooms and 3 baths located in the Bromwell School District. Immaculate home with master suite and walk in closet! Granite counter tops, new windows, stainless steel appliances, cherry cabinets, and a finished basement! This is a perfect turn-key home! The home sits on a double lot with a huge yard! Call for your private showing today!

Watertower Lofts

2960 Inca Street Unit 510
2 bed/2bath
1396 square feet
235 square foot terrace, exposed brick, 25ft ceilings, original beams. True loft living with original architectural details

Adorable Condo with Deco Charm!

665 Washington St. #8C
2 bed/1 bath
847 Sq. Ft.

Awesome penthouse unit within minutes of Cheesman Park, The Esquire Theater and Wild Oats Market. Deeded Parking! New Windows*Covered Ceilings* New paint* Original Tile * Refurnished Bath * Updated Appliances * Great Building with Active HOA * Laundry Facilities * Storage * Gardens *Secure Entry with Call Box.

Retail Real estate remains strong

Denver Business Journal

Metro Denver's retail real estate market should remain "fairly healthy," with absorption of vacant space and higher rents, for the rest of 2008, according to a report released Wednesday by Marcus & Millichap Real Estate Investment Services Inc.

The report attributes the forecast to strong metro-area demographic trends and weakening supply-side pressure. Employers project an increase of 13,000 jobs, or a 1 percent gain, for the entire year.

"Investors with long-term strategies may find properties in the expanding northeast submarket, as well as new developments along planned FasTracks lines," Adam Christofferson, regional manager for Marcus & Millichap's Denver office, said in a statement.

Looking at retail real estate, the commercial real estate brokerage expects the following:

Asking rents to increase 1.6 percent to $17.44 per square foot on average.
A 0.8 percent uptick in effective rents to $15.46 per square foot on average. "Effective rent" is the rent actually paid by tenants to landlords.
Year-end vacancy rate of 8.1 percent.
A 2 percent jump in the inventory of retail space, with the addition of 2.5 million square feet.
Started in 1971, Marcus & Millichap is a commercial real estate brokerage firm that focuses exclusively on investments. The company, based in Encino, Calif., closed on $20.7 billion in deals in 2007.

Marcus & Millichap has Colorado offices in downtown Denver and Fort Collins.

Denver Market Poised for a Turn Around

If historic trends hold true, Denver's housing market could be poised for a turnaround.

Real-estate broker Lon Welsh recently conducted an analysis comparing the number of days homes spend on the market to price appreciation. The data, going back to the 1970s, indicated that a change in days on the market often precedes a change in price appreciation.

Welsh, managing broker of Your Castle Real Estate, says a recent drop in the number of days homes are spending on the market offers a glimmer of hope that prices could be headed for improvement.

Between January and May, metro-area homes spent an average of 89 days on the market, down from 100 last year.

"It's too early to call this a trend yet, but I'm optimistic that this is a leading indicator that our market is going to improve its rate of appreciation in two years or so," he said.

He pointed to similar changes in previous housing cycles to back his conclusion.

For example, in the 1970s, when Denver's housing market was booming, the average price went up 12 percent a year and houses were on the market an average of 56 days.

That all changed in the 1980s, when appreciation slowed to 4 percent annually and the average number of days a house sat on the market jumped to 85.

"That's when oil walked out of Denver," independent real-estate analyst Gary Bauer explained. "At that point in time, Denver had a very limited economy."

The market bounced back in the 1990s, when Denver created a lot of high-tech and telecom jobs. Home values rose an average of 9 percent a year, while the number of days houses sat on the market dropped to 46.

The loss of nearly 30,000 jobs in 2001 had a big impact on the housing market, Welsh said. The average appreciation dropped to 3 percent annually, and the average days on the market leapt to 84.

Jeff Thredgold, economist for Vectra Bank Colorado, agreed that this could be a turning point. It's also an indication that Colorado's housing market didn't get as crazy as in Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida, where prices doubled over the past four years, he said.

"Now, they're dealing with huge delinquencies and foreclosures," Thredgold said.

But Bauer cautioned against comparing days on the market to appreciation rates.

"There are other factors that affect appreciation," he said, citing in-migration, overall pay rates, mortgage rates and consumer confidence.

While such factors are indeed drivers of price appreciation, Welsh said he's optimistic about the predictive power of days-on- market data: "A major change in the days on market seems to occur before a big change in home-price appreciation."

Margaret Jackson: 303-954-1473 or

City Life Thrives as Gas Prices Rise

ELIZABETH, Colo. — Suddenly, the economics of American suburban life are under assault as skyrocketing energy prices inflate the costs of reaching, heating and cooling homes on the distant edges of metropolitan areas.
Just off Singing Hills Road, in one of hundreds of two-story homes dotting a former cattle ranch beyond the southern fringes of Denver, Phil Boyle and his family openly wonder if they will have to move close to town to get some relief.

They still revel in the space and quiet that has drawn a steady exodus from American cities toward places like this for more than half a century. Their living room ceiling soars two stories high. A swing-set sways in the breeze in their backyard. Their wrap-around porch looks out over the flat scrub of the high plains to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

But life on the edges of suburbia is beginning to feel untenable. Mr. Boyle and his wife must drive nearly an hour to their jobs in the high-tech corridor of southern Denver. With gasoline at more than $4 a gallon, Mr. Boyle recently paid $121 to fill his pickup truck with diesel fuel. In March, the last time he filled his propane tank to heat his spacious house, he paid $566, more than twice the price of 5 years ago.

Though Mr. Boyle finds city life unappealing, it is now up for reconsideration.

“Living closer in, in a smaller space, where you don’t have that commute,” he said. “It’s definitely something we talk about. Before it was ‘we spend too much time driving.’ Now, it’s ‘we spend too much time and money driving.’ ”

Across the nation, the realization is taking hold that rising energy prices are less a momentary blip than a change with lasting consequences. The shift to costlier fuel is threatening to slow the decades-old migration away from cities, while exacerbating the housing downturn by diminishing the appeal of larger homes set far from urban jobs.

In Atlanta, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Minneapolis, homes beyond the urban core have been falling in value faster than those within, according to an analysis by Moody’s

In Denver, housing prices in the urban core rose steadily from 2003 until late last year compared with previous years, before dipping nearly 5 percent in the last three months of last year, according to But house prices in the suburbs began falling earlier, in the middle of 2006, and then accelerated, dropping by 7 percent during the last three months of the year from a year earlier.

Many factors have propelled the unraveling of American real estate, from the mortgage crisis to a staggering excess of home construction, making it hard to pinpoint the impact of any single force. But economists and real estate agents are growing convinced that the rising cost of energy is now a primary factor pushing home prices down in the suburbs, particularly in the outer rings.

More than three-fourths of prospective home buyers are now more inclined to live in an urban area because of fuel prices, according to a recent survey of 903 real estate agents with Coldwell Banker, the national brokerage firm.

Some now proclaim the unfolding demise of suburbia.

“Many low-density suburbs and McMansion subdivisions, including some that are lovely and affluent today, may become what inner cities became in the 1960s and ’70s — slums characterized by poverty, crime and decay,” declared Christopher B. Leinberger, an urban land use expert, in a recent essay in The Atlantic Monthly.

Most experts do not share such apocalyptic visions, seeing instead a gradual reordering.

“It’s like an ebbing of this suburban tide,” said Joe Cortright, an economist at the consulting group Impresa Inc. in Portland, Ore. “There’s going to be this kind of reversal of desirability. Typically, Americans have felt the periphery was most desirable, and now there’s going to be a reversion to the center.”

In a recent study, Mr. Cortright found that house prices in the urban centers of Chicago, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland and Tampa have fared significantly better than those in the suburbs. So-called exurbs — communities sprouting on the distant edges of metropolitan areas — have suffered worst of all, Mr. Cortright found.

Basic household arithmetic appears to be furthering the trend: In 2003, the average suburban household spent $1,422 a year on gasoline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By April of this year — when gas prices were about $3.60 a gallon— the same household was spending $3,196 a year, more than doubling consumption in dollar terms in less than five years.

In March, Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles on public roads than in the same month the previous year, a 4.3 percent decrease — the sharpest one-month drop since the Federal Highway Administration began keeping records in 1942.

Long before the recent spike in the price of energy, environmentalists decried suburban sprawl a waste of land, energy and tax dollars. Governments from Virginia to California have in recent decades lavished resources on building roads and schools for new subdivisions in the outer rings of development while skimping on maintaining facilities closer in. Many governments now focus on reviving their downtowns.

In Denver — a classic Western city, with snarling freeway traffic across a vast acreage of strip malls, ranch houses and office parks — the city has had an urban renaissance over the last decade.

A $6.1 billion commuter rail system has been in the works over the last four years, drawing people downtown without cars, while stimulating swift sales of densely clustered condos near stations.

Coors Field, the intimate, brick-fronted baseball stadium for the Colorado Rockies, has transformed the surrounding area from a desolate skid row into fashionable Lower Downtown, a neighborhood of restaurants and microbreweries in restored warehouses. Along the Platte River, new condos set on a park strip offer an arresting tableau of glass, steel, and futuristic geometry, attracting throngs of buyers at rising prices.

“This is a city where it’s fun to be in the center,” said Tim Burleigh, 56, who sold his house in the suburbs and now walks to Rockies games from his downtown condo.

To Denver’s mayor, John W. Hickenlooper, $4 gasoline offers a useful incentive for such plans.

“It can be an accelerator,” he said during an interview inside the imposing column-fronted City Hall. “It’s not going to be the dagger in the heart of suburban sprawl, but there’s a certain inclination, a certain momentum back toward downtown.”

Dollars spent at the gas station leave fewer for mortgage payments. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s, calculated that the jump in gas prices from $2 a gallon to $4 has taken $50 a month from the typical suburban commuter driving 25 miles a day.

“The fuel price change should be capitalized into the cost of houses,” Mr. Zandi said. “Prices in the outer suburbs will get clobbered.”

Elizabeth is the archetype of a once-rural community sucked into the orbit of the expanding metropolis, its ranch lands given over to porches, picket fences and two-car garages.

Megan Werner, 39, a mother of three, moved here five years ago from a dense suburb closer to Denver. She and her husband bought a home set on a 1.5-acre lot in the Deer Creek Farm subdivision. The space justified her husband’s 40-minute commute.

“We wanted more than a postage stamp,” she said, as her 5-year-old daughter walked barefoot across the driveway.

It used to cost her about $30 to fill her Honda minivan with gas. Now, it is more like $50, and she coordinates her trips — shopping in town, combined with dance lessons for her children. But she has no thoughts of leaving.

“I can open up my door and my kids can play,” Ms. Werner said.

For others, though, new math is altering the choice of where to live. Houses are sitting on the market longer than in years past. “The pool of buyers is diminishing,” said Jace Glick, an agent with Re/Max Alliance in Parker, Colo., next to Elizabeth.

Juanita Johnson and her husband, both retired Denver schoolteachers, moved here last August, after three decades in the city and a few years in the mountains. They bought a four-bedroom house for $415,000.

Last winter, they spent $3,000 on propane for heat, she said. Suddenly, this seemed like a place to flee. “We’d sell if we could, but we’d lose our shirt,” Ms. Johnson said. Recently she counted 15 sale signs. One home nearby is listed below $400,000.

“I was so glad to get out of the city, the pollution the traffic, the crime,” she said. Now, the suburbs seem mean. “I wouldn’t do this again.”