If you are like a lot of people, your eyes may start to glaze over at the mere mention of “Opportunity Zones,” but stick with me as there is a fascinating story of apparent desperation, questionable motives, and possibly deceitful tactics in order to stem any growth in Boulder.
What are Opportunity Zones anyway?
Opportunity Zones were created by the 2017 federal tax reform package, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, as a way to incentivize investors to improve and revitalize communities across the country that have languished while the rest of the US enjoyed a terrific boom. Specifically, an Opportunity Zone is a census tract that Congress designated as eligible (read struggling) to receive private capital investments through “Opportunity Funds,” which allow investors to receive a deferral, reduction, or possibly even elimination of federal capital gains taxes, depending on how long they keep their money invested in a qualifying property and how much they improve it.
This is where the story gets interesting. Gov. Hickenlooper, seemingly with support from Boulder at the time, designated a Boulder census tract that runs from 28th to 55th Streets and from Iris to Arapahoe Avenue as an Opportunity Zone. While virtually every other municipality welcomed these designations as an opportunity to revitalize their struggling communities, the Boulder City Council placed a moratorium on its Opportunity Zone, blocking investment. And did I mention that this is a limited time offer?
If you are new to the area or have not been following local politics closely (and who could blame you?), it might seem surprising that Boulder would block such investments. However, as discussed in a previous column, a majority of the Boulder City Council appears to be beholden to Boulder’s CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) who do not want growth of any kind. It seems they want things to be like it was “back then,” an apparently bygone era with fewer people, fewer businesses, etc. When viewed through this lens, their actions, though by definition counter productive, make sense.
And now for the master stroke of the CAVE people: make it look to the public like they are lifting the moratorium, when they are actually downzoning large parts of the city. Under the guise of lifting the Opportunity Zone moratorium and updating “use table standards,” the city will effectively downzone thousands of properties (not just in the Opportunity Zone), limiting office uses to 25 percent of floor area in the BR, BMS, and TB business zones, and limiting small office uses in residential zones. This will make any existing building in an affected business zone with more than 25 percent office space a “non-conforming use,” meaning that changes or expansions to this use would require city approval through a non-conforming use review. And what do you think the chances of getting approved would be?
This proposal by the city council runs counter to its stated positions on the environment, not to mention its own Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan policies supporting creation of 15-minute walkable neighborhoods and other policies favoring mixed-use planning, smart growth, and pedestrian uses.
If you are so inclined, you can share your opinion with the city council at email@example.com, or if you are really motivated, you can attend the council’s public hearing at 6 p.m. on Sept. 3 at 1777 Broadway.
Originally posted by Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.
A well-functioning market consists of two sides: suppliers who offer a particular good for sale and consumers who purchase those goods. In the Boulder Valley residential real estate market since 2012, there have been more consumers looking to buy homes than there were sellers offering homes for sale, which has led to a long appreciation period for homes. Now, however, it appears that the number of buyers is dropping as is their willingness to pay ever-increasing prices.
Spotting the trend
First, how do we know that there are fewer buyers in the market? The most direct measure of buyer activity that my company tracks (courtesy of Broker Associate Mike Malec) is the number of showings per available listing. From examining the data, it is fairly easy to see that this year’s showing activity is markedly below the recent boom years, but is still above the levels present during the recession.
Second, to further substantiate this decline in buyer activity, we can look at more indirect measures, such as average sales prices, available inventory of homes on the market, and average time a home will be on the market before sale. Each of these markers indicates a decline in buyer activity. Through May of this year, the average price of a single-family home in Boulder has fallen 0.6 percent, while the average attached unit has fallen 4 percent, compared to the same timeframe last year. This indicates that there are fewer buyers competing for available homes to the point where home appreciation rates have stalled. At the same time, the amount of homes available on the market has increased nearly 20 percent for single-family homes and almost 50 percent for attached ones, while the average time on the market for single family homes has gone up 5 percent and nearly 20 percent for attached ones. These statistics indicate that those buyers in the market are becoming choosier and are able to take their time making decisions.
Based on the above discussion, it seems that there are fewer buyers in the market and that those who are in the market are more cautious, but why?
It does not appear that our local economic conditions explain the drop in buyer activity. According to the State Demographer’s office, people are continuing to move into Boulder and Broomfield counties, albeit at a slower rate than previous years (though the city of Boulder has seen its population declining in the last two years). And local unemployment levels continue to be historically low.
Economic conditions at the national level are softening, to the point where the Fed is discussing interest rate cuts, so these conditions may play some role. But, interest rates are actually about half a percent lower than they were at this time last year, which would appear to weaken that argument.
Could it be the weather?
Another possible explanation I’ve heard is that our unusually cold and snow winter could have suppressed buyer demand as people were less willing to trudge through the snow to go see houses. While this is plausible, all else being equal, we would have expected to see that pent up demand being released as the weather improves, but we just have not seen that play out in the data yet.
Whatever the cause of the decline in buyer activity may be, local real estate legend Larry Kendall of the Group Inc. Real Estate in Fort Collins always says that buyers are the smartest people in the market, so they may be acting as the proverbial canary in a coal mine, meaning that they could be a leading indicator that our market is shifting from a seller’s market to either a balanced or buyer’s market. If you are a seller, be wary of pricing above the market in these shifting conditions.
Originally posted by Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.
Why Louisville and why now?
Those are the questions RE/MAX Elevate, the sister franchise of RE/MAX of Boulder, had to answer when deciding whether to put roots down there with its first office. And the answers came easy. Louisville is to many the unofficial “Capital” of East Boulder County. Business booms there, school are great, families love it, and it’s been recognized numerous times in the national media as one of the safest and best places to live in the nation (Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017, one of the “20 Safest Places to Live in Colorado” by Elite Personal Finance, and among the “10 Best Towns for Families in the U.S.” by Family Circle Magazine). Louisville is a great little city. In fact, 78 percent of respondents to a citizen survey rated Louisville as an “excellent” place to live.
So it was with much excitement that RE/MAX Elevate planted its flag at 724 Main Street and had its grand opening on May 1. The public was invited to enjoy a ribbon cutting ceremony with Shelley Angell, executive director of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, live music by Louisville musician Johnny O., wine and sangria tasting with local Decadent Saint winery thanks to Premier Lending LLC, small bites by local Wildcraft Kitchen, desserts from Bittersweet Café & Confections, and flower arrangements donated by Red Door Flowers. RE/MAX Elevate thanks the sponsors and vendors who made it such a special day in Louisville.
It is with much excitement that RE/MAX Elevate planted its flag at 724 Main Street in Louisville and had its grand opening on May 1. (Photo: Jonathan Castner)
RE/MAX Elevate Broker/Owner Jay Kalinski. “It’s an ideal place to live and do business with a great quality of life. We Heart Louisville. That’s the sentiment you’ll see on t-shirts and stickers for RE/MAX Elevate.”
Jay says that for those who want a little more space to live in, along with the beauty and amenities of Boulder County, Louisville is a remarkably attractive choice.
Lest our readers think this is a case of a national “chain” without ties to the community setting up shop in a hot market, a brief history lesson is helpful.
RE/MAX of Boulder was founded 42 years ago in Boulder by Tom Kalinski. At the time it opened for business, it was only the third RE/MAX franchise in the United States. RE/MAX of Boulder has been the No. 1 company in Boulder Valley home sales for more than 30 of its 42 years and the No. 1 single RE/MAX office in the U.S. 8 times. The company has more than 100 award-winning Realtors who are among the best in the nation, averaging more than 15 years of experience. They are seasoned experts with the utmost dedication to clients, going far beyond the extra mile to help them navigate an often challenging market. Jay became Co-Owner of RE/MAX of Boulder in 2012 and helped further expand the company to where it is today, serving as Broker/Owner for several years.
While Jay remains co-owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, he has turned Broker duties back over to Tom, so he can focus on expanding RE/MAX Elevate. Jay is a Boulder native, CU-Boulder alumnus, and Tom’s son. Jay, a lawyer and military veteran, says, “We’re thrilled to introduce RE/MAX Elevate to Louisville, where many of our founding real estate agents – and their families – live, work, and go to school, and where our clients are selling or searching for homes. We are rooted in the community.”
Jay has been a licensed broker for 10 years and a licensed attorney for 14 years having worked at several prominent law firms and serving 4 ½ years on active duty as an Air Force JAG officer. “We are committed to the city of Louisville, East Boulder County, Broomfield, and beyond,” Jay says. “And as a small local veteran-owned business, we are excited to be actively involved in the local entrepreneurial community and with nonprofits and community organizations and to support the vitality and wellbeing of the community.”
Manager Tammy Milano with Broker/Owner Jay Kalinski
Realtors in both offices have donated gift baskets from Louisville businesses for a free drawing, which kicked off during the grand opening party. Drop by any day during business hours in May to enter. Tickets will be drawn and winners announced during the Taste of Louisville on June 1. And to celebrate the opening of the new office, RE/MAX Elevate is sponsoring the Louisville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. RE/MAX Elevate along with RE/MAX of Boulder are giving back to the community by co-sponsoring the Louisville Downtown Street Faire on Friday nights thoughout the summer.
Jenni Hlawatsch, owner of The Singing Cook, the business next door to RE/MAX Elevate where she continues to be a neighbor, is looking ahead as she welcomes the new office. She says, “While I’ll miss my Book Cellar neighbors, I look forward to the new business relationship with Jay and the RE/MAX Elevate team who are eager to support and get involved in all the goings on in downtown Louisville.”
“We’re delighted to welcome RE/MAX Elevate to downtown Louisville,” says Louisville Mayor Bob Muckle. “Their contributions to the local economy and strong tradition of community involvement will be a win for us all.”
RE/MAX Elevate is a member of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and the Louisville Downtown Business Association.
RE/MAX Elevate, 724 Main St., Louisville; 303.974.5005; elevatedrealestate.com. Hours are: M-F 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sa/Sun 11:00 AM-4:00 PM
By Darren Thornberry, At Home
Photos by Jonathan Castner and Flatirons Pro Media
Originally Posted by RE/MAX of Boulder
LOUISVILLE — Jay Kalinski, owner of Re/Max of Boulder, is opening a new real estate agency in Louisville under the Re/Max Elevate banner.
The Re/Max Elevate office, set to celebrate a grand opening May 1, is at 724 Main St.
Kalinski said agents had been clamoring for an office in eastern Boulder County because many live in that area and many have clients looking for homes in places such as Louisville, Lafayette, Firestone and Frederick.
“Over time, more and more of our agents have been working outside of the city of Boulder and outside of Boulder County,” Kalinski said,
And while the company considered opening the office in other nearby towns, “Louisville seemed to be a consensus choice,” he said.
The Re/Max Elevate office, technically a separate franchise from Re/Max of Boulder Inc., will launch with 15 agents. A handful are transferring from the Boulder offices, but most are newly recruited agents.
Kalinski said the office may be able to support as many 20 or 25 agents. For comparison, Re/Max of Boulder has about 115 agents.
Kalinski said the Louisville office will likely not be the last new location for his team.
“We’re in growth mode and looking to expand,” he said.
The decision on where to target for the company’s next office will — like the Louisville decision — be driven by input from agents and clients, he said.
Originally posted by Lucas High
Colorado ranked as the No. 5 most innovative state in the U.S. and the achievement comes with perks.
For example, innovation is a principal driver of U.S. economic growth, reports WalletHub, which points toward good news for Colorado’s economic outlook.
“In 2019, the U.S. will spend an estimated $581 billion on research and development — more than any other country in the world and about 25 percent of the world’s total — helping the nation rank No. 6 on the Global Innovation Index,” writes WalletHub in its recently released study of Least & Most Innovative States.
The study compared 50 states and the District of Columbia across 24 indicators of innovation-friendliness, ranging from share of STEM professionals to tech-company density.
The top five states and their corresponding scores out of 100 are:
No. 1 Massachusetts, 72.31
No. 2 Washington, 68.03
No. 3 District of Columbia, 67.47
No. 4 Maryland, 64.06
No. 5 Colorado, 63.35
“Certain states deserve more credit than others for America’s dominance in the tech era. These states continue to grow innovation through investments in education, research and business creation, especially in highly specialized industries,” notes WalletHub.
Colorado also ranked in the top 10 for six metrics, including tied for No. 1 in eighth-grade math and science performance, No. 5 for share of STEM professionals and share of technology companies, No. 6 for projected STEM-job demand, and No. 7 for venture capital funding per capita.
What makes Colorado so innovative?
WalletHub compared two dimensions across 24 metrics, “Human Capital” and “Innovation Environment.”
Human Capital includes:
- Share of STEM Professionals
- Share of Science & Engineering Graduates
- Projected STEM-Job Demand by 2020
- Scientific-Knowledge Output
- Eighth-Grade Math & Science Performance
- AP Exam Participation
Innovation Environment includes:
- Share of Technology Companies
- R&D Spending per Capita
- R&D Intensity
- Invention Patents per Capita
- IP Services Exports as a Share of All Services Exports
- Business Churn
- Jobs in New Companies
- Net Migration
- Entrepreneurial Activity
- Number of Startups “Accelerated” per Total Number of Start-ups
- Venture-Capital Funding per Capita
- Average Annual Federal Small-Business Funding per GDP
- Industry-Cluster Strength
- Open Roads & Skies Friendly Laws
- Average Internet Speed
- Share of Households with Internet Access
- Adoption of K–12 Computer Science Standards, Note that this metric was chosen because WalletHub considers most future innovation will be tech enabled.
For more information visit https://wallethub.com/edu/most-innovative-states/31890
Originally Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Home sales for Boulder-area real estate got off to a slow start in 2019 despite fairly mild January weather, resulting in decreased sales compared with a year ago.
Single-family homes posted 184 sales, a decrease of 20.3 percent compared with 231 homes sold in the same month last year. Sales of condominiums and townhomes dropped 23.0 percent for the same period with 71 units sold vs. 92.
“The market saw a pretty significant slowdown that started mid-November and continued through January,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association. “The fundamentals are still solid—inventory improved and interest rates aren’t going up quickly,” he says, noting that interest rates are historically low and affordable at around five percent or below for a 30-year fixed mortgage.
Month-over-month single-family home sales dropped 39 percent in January with 184 homes sold compared to 302 in December. Townhome/condo sales were a bit stronger, nearly matching December sales with a .013 percent decrease – 71 units sold vs. 72.
Inventory jumped 15.7 percent for single-family homes with 722 homes for sale in January compared with 624 in December. Attached dwellings showed even greater improvement, rising 18.1 percent—241 units vs. 204.
Hotard explains that for now the statistics represent a series of events. “Once we get enough data, we’ll start to see trends,” he says.
“There seems to be uncertainty in the market and buyers are thinking I can stay where I am and look for a better opportunity in the future,” says Hotard. “It’s a story that’s repeating itself in a number of markets across the country.”
Yet Boulder-area prices continue to rise or hold steady, job growth and the employment rate remain strong, and Boulder County is still a desirable place to live.
“Our strong fundamentals should attract buyers as we move through February.”
Originally posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, March 14th, 2019.
There is a serious shortage of homes in Boulder, as is evidenced by the roughly 65,000 people who commute in and out of Boulder on a daily basis. About half of these people would live in Boulder if they could, but are forced to “drive until they qualify” for a home, which increases their carbon footprint, commute times, and overall stress level. It is clear that creative solutions are needed to address this crucial issue.
The Boulder City Council’s proposed pilot program to “help” middle income families purchase market rate homes is, while creative, a Faustian bargain, in my opinion. In the current iteration supported by members of the city council, the city would use a “loan-loss reserve fund” to guaranty second mortgages that would allow people to purchase more home than they would qualify for by themselves. (An earlier version from a 2016 white paper would have had the city use its bonding power to raise money to buy a percentage of a purchaser’s home, which the city would get back at closing, plus some amount of appreciation).
If the program stopped there, I would applaud the city’s effort for trying to get more families into homes that would be owner occupied. But here is where the Faustian bargain sets in. In exchange for the city’s assistance, the buyer would have to “voluntarily” agree to deed restrict the home they just purchased to be permanently affordable.
Let us consider the consequences of this for the individual or family who purchases a home under this program:
- All of the burdens. The buyers now have all of the burdens of homeownership. For example, if the furnace breaks or the roof wears out, the burden falls on the homeowner to replace them. If the home loses value, it is ostensibly the homeowner who bears the loss when they look to resell. And remember, in this fantasy, a lender is going to agree to loan buyers more money than the lender thinks they can reasonably afford because the city is going to guaranty a portion of the loan, which means the buyers will likely have more financial strain and be at a higher risk of default. Whether the city can sufficiently incentivize a bank to overlook that they would likely be overextending buyers financially remains to be seen.
- Limited rewards. While the homeowner is saddled with the burdens and risks of ownership, they do not reap the full reward of their home’s appreciation — the city sees to this through its deed restriction. Suppose homeowners do an outstanding job of upgrading and maintaining their home, and the market rises over the 10 years they own their home, the owners will not receive the fruits of their labor and good fortune of an appreciating market. Instead, the city will cap their appreciation at some percentage likely well below the market.
For the majority of Americans, their home is their biggest asset and primary source of wealth creation. The effect of the city’s program, then, is to make families who avail themselves of this program poorer over time relative to those who purchased homes on the open market.
It is, in my opinion, this asymmetry of unlimited risk and handicapped reward underlying the program that makes it so insidious.
If this wasn’t bad enough, let us now consider the consequences of this for the housing market in Boulder in general. The more unfortunate souls the city “helps” via this program, the fewer homes will be available on the open market. If the supply of homes is further restricted via this program, and demand for housing remains strong (remember the 30,000 commuters who would like to live in Boulder?), then the result will be home prices rising even faster. So, in an effort to create a number of “permanently affordable” homes, the city will make the rest of Boulder much more expensive.
Originally posted on BizWest. Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.