Boulder is known for its highly educated, technology-oriented citizenry. The city is even ranked No. 1 nationally in the “Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index,” which tracks business formation as well as employment and education in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
But does that make Boulder a smart city? Not according to Colorado Smart Cities Alliance (CSCA). CSCA might summarize a smart city as an environment that works well for the people who live in it.
Specifically, CSCA defines a smart city “as an environment that enables all of us to effectively and efficiently live, work, and play. It leverages advancements in science and technology to create an area that is intelligent about strategic and tactical needs and wants of all the constituents.”
Boulder, Longmont, and Fort Collins are among a dozen cities along the Front Range that are founding members of the CSCA. Founded in 2017 by the Denver South Economic Development, CSCA is an open, collaborative, and active platform where stakeholders work to collaborate on continually improving the region’s economic foundations for future generations. The initiative aims to make Colorado a leader in the development of intelligent infrastructure. The goal is to accelerate the development of statewide Smart City initiatives that will improve our play, family, and work lives, from transportation and housing to public safety and the environment.
In ColoradoBiz Magazine, DesignThinkingDenver’s CEO Joe Hark Harold says, smart cities could design systems that save water and energy, reduce traffic and traffic congestion, lessen crime, better prepare for disasters, provide better connections between business and customers, and even manage the lights remotely.
There is urgency behind this movement, driven by an increase of those who live in urban environments. More than three million additional people are expected to move to Colorado by 2050 — an increase of more than 50 percent from 2015, according to the Colorado State Demography Office. Coupled with the growth the state has already experienced, the projected increase has spurred community leaders to collaborate on finding innovative, cost-effective ways to better monitor, manage, and improve infrastructure and public services.
“The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance is advancing policies and technologies that will better equip Colorado residents to live, work, and play in a future that is increasingly being shaped by the complex challenges of urban growth,” says Jake Rishavy, vice president of innovation at the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We’re working to create a 21st-century technology infrastructure right here in Colorado that will help to enhance everyone’s quality of life, particularly as our communities continue to grow.”
Among its activities, CSCA hosts regular “Civic Labs” events around the state to share challenges, expertise and solutions. At the Denver Smart City Forum in June, speakers described “smart” technology as having to be about the people who use it and benefit from it, that is, human-centered design and thinking.
“People, not technology, will create smart cities,” said Colorado’s Chief Innovation Officer Erik Mitisek.
To find out more and get involved in the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, visit http://coloradosmart.city/
For more about the recent forum and DesignThinkingDenver, read http://www.cobizmag.com/Trends/Smart-Cities-Arent/ and http://www.cobizmag.com/Trends/Denver-Digs-Deep-on-Smart-City-Development-and-Implementation/
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 at 11:31am.
Home sales in Boulder-area single-family and attached housing markets rose in August along with the late summer heat index.
Single-family home sales increased 10 percent in August 2018 compared to July with 460 homes sold in Boulder-area markets vs. 418. Sales for condominiums and townhomes climbed 15 percent with 146 units sold vs. 127.
Meanwhile, Denver-metro home sales went in the opposite direction, slowing significantly over the same period, according to the Denver Post.
It’s testament to the state of Boulder Valley real estate market, according to Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
“We have our own little market here. While Denver dipped, Boulder Valley showed strong growth in sales, despite ongoing rising prices and inventory squeeze,” says Hotard.
Year-to-date sales also continue to climb steadily. Single-family home sales grew 1.7 percent through August 2018 compared to last year – 3,154 homes sold vs. 3,100. Attached homes followed a similar track, improving 1.6 percent year-to-date – 1,154 sold in 2018 compared with 1,135 in 2017.
Inventory dropped 2.0 percent for single-family homes – 993 units in August 2018 vs. July’s 1,013. But condo/townhomes available for sale grew 11.2 percent with 268 units available in August vs. 241 the previous month.
Hotard attributes the unceasing increase in real estate sales and prices to the area’s strong economy and continued job growth, along with a desirable quality of life. “Significant companies are hiring in Boulder, like Zayo, Google, Twitter – and the natural foods industry is strong,” he adds.
Interest rates are slowly pushing upward, which traditionally results in a slowdown in rising home prices and sales. But Boulder Valley’s housing market may not readily respond to interest rate increases.
“It’s unknown what the tipping point is for interest rates affecting our housing market. And with 35 percent of Boulder County homes bought with cash, rising interest rates may not have a significant effect locally,” says Hotard.
Looking ahead to the final quarter of the year, Hotard expects sales to continue to match those of last year, unless “something unusual happens.”
“We seem to be operating on an upward trend and it’s hard to see what would stop it. The real challenge for Boulder County is providing the housing and transportation infrastructure to support job growth.”
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 at 10:46am.
The usual story of ever-rising Boulder rents took a new turn this month. Data for August 2018 shows Boulder rents fell slightly by 0.1 percent last month and by 0.1 percent year-over-year, according to the latest report from rental site Apartment List.
That translates into median apartment rent of $1,150 for a one-bedroom and $1,410 for two-bedrooms. But even with the minor dip, Boulder’s median two-bedroom rent is above the national average of $1,180.
Nationwide rental rates went up about 1.5 percent, which the report found is down from a high of 3.6 percent in 2015.
Compared to the state and nation, Boulder’s rental price growth is below average. The city lags the state average of 0.4 percent rent growth year-over-year.
Rent also decreased in Colorado’s City of Aurora with a reduction of 0.8 percent year-over-year. A two-bedroom apartment in Aurora rents for $1,560.
But statewide, rental prices continue to trend upward. Colorado’s rental prices rose 0.4 percent over the past year. Eight of Colorado’s ten largest cities show rising rents.
Loveland, Thornton, and Westminster all have year-over-year growth above the state average with rent increases of 2.8 percent, 2.6 percent, and 1.9 percent, respectively.
Thornton is the most expensive of all Colorado’s major cities with a median two-bedroom rent of $1,860.
Many cities nationwide saw increases, including Phoenix, Atlanta, and San Francisco, rising 2.5, 1.5 and 1.1 percent, respectively.
Orlando has the fastest rent growth in the nation with an increase of 5.3 percent over last year. Second in the nation is Riverside, CA with 4.1 percent year-over-year growth, followed in third place by Anaheim at 3.6 percent.
The state of Nevada leads the country for the fastest rent growth at 3 percent, followed by Arizona at 2.2 percent.
Apartment List determines rent standings using reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau and extrapolates forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from Apartment List listing data.
You can read the full report at https://www.apartmentlist.com/co/boulder#rent-report, see the national rental statistics at https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/national-rent-data/. If you want to know where rents are growing fastest, visit https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/rents-growing-fastest/.
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Monday, September 17th, 2018 at 2:39pm.
Boulder stands tall when compared with much larger metropolitan areas that excel in innovation and entrepreneurship.
A report produced by the Boulder Economic Council compares Boulder with leading innovation centers including Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Raleigh. Though these metropolitan areas have a much larger population than Boulder, they were selected as peer communities following input from local focus groups and ranking reviews published by Inc., Forbes, and others.
To get a meaningful comparison, data was normalized for population size and other measures in analysis by CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business Research Division.
And the news is good, according to findings published in the Boulder Innovation Venture Report. Boulder compares favorably in key success metrics from education and jobs to quality of life. The area is challenged, however, by a lack of affordable housing to supply its workforce with a place to live.
The Boulder metro area ranks first among the peer communities for the percentage of population 25 and up who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 60 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is among the highest in the United States.
In the jobs ranking, the City of Boulder has about 100,000 jobs, a number two or three times larger than almost any other U.S. city comparable in population size. Among those jobs, Boulder has the second highest concentration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations among all the peer regions.
Boulder has the second-highest per capita venture capital investment in comparison to the peer communities.
In fact, Boulder is ranked number one nationally in the “Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index,” which tracks business formation as well as employment and education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Drilling down into the creative services industry – advertising agencies and web and app developers – outdoor recreation and food manufacturing, Boulder’s concentration of local businesses was significantly higher than peer communities.
Even in coffee shops the Boulder area percolates, achieving a tie with the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro for the highest concentration of coffee shops among peer communities. Boulder outranked all the peer cities on restaurants per 1,000 residents.
While any amount of time stuck in traffic is too much, Boulder drivers spend less than all but one of the peer communities with 10 percent of total driving time in congestion. Boston drivers spend the most time driving in congestion.
The challenge for Boulder is housing affordability, according to the report. Measured by median metro area home values, Boulder has the third highest housing costs among its peer communities, behind the San Jose and San Francisco regions and just ahead of Seattle and Boston. But the city is not alone – its peer communities face the same challenge. All but one of the metro areas studied for this report ranked among the 25 most expensive housing markets in the U.S.
For the full Boulder Innovation Venture Report, visit: http://issuu.com/boulderchamber/docs/innovation_venture_report_v26?e=33607933/61913820
Let’s face it, what happens in Boulder affects the rest of Boulder Valley in terms of housing, transportation, economics and myriad other dimensions. If you want to know where your neighborhood is headed, it’s informative to know what Boulder is doing, even if you live in say, Erie. And, if you even casually follow Boulder politics these days, you might be perplexed and concerned by the (seemingly) increasingly bizarre actions coming from Boulder’s City Council.
For a council that purports to support the environment, public safety, and inclusivity, its recent actions don’t seem to match its rhetoric. In my opinion, however, its actions make sense when you understand the true underlying motivations and desires — and to do that, you have to understand Boulder’s CAVE people.
Who are Boulder’s CAVE people and what do they want?
Simply put, I call these people “Citizens Against Virtually Everything” (CAVE), and they seem to have the ear of the majority of the current council. It appears that the plurality of Boulder’s CAVE people arrived in Boulder in the 1960s and ‘70s as students, hippies, ski bums, etc. They decided to stay, bought homes here, and have become relatively well off as Boulder’s home price appreciation outstripped virtually everywhere else in the country. At the same time, they seem not to like the multiple dimensions of growth Boulder has enjoyed over the last several decades; indeed, their strongest desire is apparently to see Boulder return to as it was “back then,” with fewer people, fewer businesses, less crowding, etc. Their apparent goals, then, are to slow, stop, or reverse growth of all kinds in Boulder. Their tactics appear to be to (disingenuously?) cloak themselves in the rhetoric of environmentalism, populism, and liberalism in order to achieve these goals.
Recent examples of CAVE people tactics and their effects:
1. South Boulder Flood Mitigation Plan. The 2013 flood brought the issue of flood mitigation to the front of everyone’s minds in Boulder Valley, but the study of how to best deal with this issue in South Boulder goes back well before then. After nearly a decade of study, and more than $2 million in fees and environmental studies, and extensive public engagement, the City Council had a few feasible flood mitigation plans, one of which (500-Year Variant 2), had the support of the University of Colorado (the property owner), the city’s Water Resources Advisory Board, and general public. One would think, then, that it would be an easy decision for the City Council to support. One, however, would be wrong.
Recently, the Boulder City Council voted to proceed with a different flood mitigation plan, one that is opposed by CU, disregards expert testimony, the preferences of the city’s Water Resources Advisory Board, and general public sentiment.
Why would the council disregard science, experts, reason, common sense and nearby residents? Using the lens of CAVE people logic, it may be because they believe that taking a position in opposition to all of these things will greatly slow the process of CU developing that land, which fits the goals of “slow, stop, reverse.”
2. Sales Tax Revenue. Cities like Boulder depend on sales tax revenue as an important component of their budgets. Earlier this year, Boulder reported a $4 million budget shortfall, attributable primarily to flattening sales tax in the city — at a time when nearby cities are enjoying double digit growth in their sales tax revenues. Members of the City Council held a study session on the topic on July 10 in which some members declared that they apparently want fewer visitors to Boulder (both tourists and locals from neighboring cities). They expressed these opinions even with the knowledge that locals already visit downtown Boulder an average of seven times per month, but tourists spend several times what locals do per visit.
Why, in a city that prides itself on being welcoming and at a time when sales tax revenues are falling, would members of council declare an apparent desire for fewer tourist (and accompanying tax dollars)?
3. Increased housing density. Council members often voice their support for efforts to provide inclusive housing, reduce Boulder’s carbon footprint, and improve our city’s environmental sustainability; however, when it comes to increased density — the thing that would arguably go the farthest toward achieving those aspirations — the council’s words do not match their deeds. Boulder’s draconian housing restrictions, including the 1 percent cap on annual residential growth (which we’ve never actually hit), blanket height restrictions, severe occupancy limits, among other measures, has forced our workforce to largely live outside the city. This, in turn, causes the more than 60,000 daily commutes into and out of Boulder. By simply ameliorating some of these harsh policies, and allowing a modicum of sustainable and smart development, Boulder could include more of its workforce within city limits and could considerably lessen its environmental impact.
Why, then, has the city actively resisted efforts that would address these critical housing and environmental issues? One possibility — CAVE people logic: if it is extremely difficult to add housing density, not only will it slow population growth, it will force workers into longer commutes and growing frustration. Over time, businesses will relocate to areas more accessible to their workforce, and there will be fewer people, fewer jobs, less congestion… like it was “back then.”
What’s to come?
Rather than building a bridge to the future, Boulder’s CAVE people seem intent on digging a trench to the past. In fact, their efforts seem to be achieving results — not only did Boulder run a budget deficit, but its population actually decreased between 2016 and 2017. There is no stasis for cities — they are either growing or dying. It seems the CAVE people are succeeding at pushing their agenda of “slow, stop, reverse,” through council. And if they win, all of us who are truly for the environment, public safety, and inclusivity will lose.
Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.
Boulder-area housing continues to reach new heights, shrugging off a pullback in July sales.
“Prices in Boulder Valley are at an all-time high in both single-family and attached homes. Also inventory challenges are ongoing. Despite both of those realities, housing demand is absolutely holding,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association.
The City of Boulder July average sales price reached more than $1.3 million – a 15.4 percent increase for the year. Median price hit $984,648. While Boulder’s prices are the highest, every area in Boulder County saw an increase in average sales price ranging from 3.5 percent in Superior to 17.7 percent in Niwot year-to-date.
However, July sales slowed from the previous month, following the typical late summer pattern of a month-over-month slowdown. Sales declined for single-family and attached homes in July compared to June, 2018. Single-family home sales in the Boulder-area markets dropped 16 percent—418 vs. 498 units—while condominium and townhome sales fell 32.8 percent—127 units vs. 189.
Hotard says this year’s July slowdown is a little more pronounced than last year.
Even so, year-to-date single-family home sales were virtually unchanged with a 1.0 percent increase compared to the prior year with 2,666 homes sold compared to 2,639. Attached home sales over the same period improved 5.8 percent; 914 vs. 864 units sold.
Inventory held its own. There was essentially no change in single-family home inventory levels, which rose .8 percent across Boulder County in July compared to June, 2018 with 1,013 vs. 1,004 homes available for sale. Condo/townhome inventory grew 1.3 percent in July compared to the previous month with 241 units for sale vs. 238.
Hotard notes there is potentially downward pressure on the market with interest rates trending upward and prices rising faster than wages in the area.
“But with demand as it is, we’re just going to keep moving forward,” he says.
Hotard adds that real estate is a “dynamic industry and Realtors are responding to the challenges by continuing to advise their clients on successful strategies for selling and purchasing homes.”
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 2:45pm.
Nine Colorado cities rank in the top 50 best cities for first-time home buyers, according to recent analysis by WalletHub, a personal finance website. Four of those made the top 20 – Centennial, Thornton, Arvada and Greeley, coming in at Nos. 3, 6, 17, and 20, respectively.
With home prices rising in Colorado and across the nation, buying a first home is challenging. Potential buyers need to develop a realistic perspective on market prices, their financing options, and neighborhoods that have a good reputation and appeal to their lifestyle.
To help potential buyers target possible locations, WalletHub compared 300 cities of varying sizes across 27 key indicators of market attractiveness, affordability, and quality of life. Data includes important factors like cost of living, real-estate taxes, and property-crime rate.
Here are the rankings of the Colorado cities reported:
25. Fort Collins
27. Colorado Springs
Among those cities, Colorado Springs has the fourth-lowest real estate tax rate in the nation.
First-time home buyers are often in the millennial generation. As it turns out, Colorado is the ninth-best state for millennials, according to a separate WalletHub report.
Millennials – those born between 1981 and 1997 – make up over 35% of the workforce. While often thought of as “kids,” the oldest are 37 years old.
In addition to a total score of 9, Colorado ranks high for quality of life (7), economic health (3) and civic engagement (10). No. 1 ranked District of Columbia also ranked first in the nation for quality of life and civic engagement.
Colorado was evaluated along with all 50 states and the District of Columbia across 30 key metrics, ranging from share of millennials to millennial unemployment rate to millennial voter-turnout rate.
Here’s a look at the top 10 states for millennials:
For more information, see the full reports at https://wallethub.com/edu/best-and-worst-cities-for-first-time-home-buyers/5564/#methodology and https://wallethub.com/edu/best-states-for-millennials/33371/ .
Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, August 24th, 2018 at 10:36am.
When it comes to homeownership, millennials are no different than other generations. Many would love to buy a home, according to findings by SmartAsset. To achieve that dream, one of the looming issues that they must overcome is saving for a down payment. This can be especially challenging in the Boulder-Denver metro area where rents are high. Also, millennials often have student loan payments contend with, which impacts savings.
Although mortgage interest rates are increasing, they are still relatively historically low, and they are empowering millennials to invest in property. To buy a home, millennials need to plan how to overcome obstacles. Here are five tips on how to get organized and make a plan that will succeed, reported by SmartAsset.
Do the Math
Know the 28/36 rule. Mortgage lenders typically require that your mortgage payment, property taxes, and insurance total no more than 28 percent of your monthly gross income. Then, your mortgage payment and your total debt payments, including college loans and credit card debt should not be more than 36 percent of your gross income. Get out your spreadsheet and calculate what this means for you. Knowing your spending limits helps target your search for the right home.
Get Your Documents Together
Getting a loan and closing on a home requires certain documents. Go ahead and pull everything you need together and put it in a file. Usually for a home purchase you need your government issued ID, most up-to-date credit report, a verification form from your employer, W-2 forms, federal tax returns, and bank and asset statements.
Get Your Down Payment Together
Plan to pay the biggest down payment you can afford. The down payment amount determines the length of your mortgage and its monthly rate. Typically, the down payment is between three to 20 percent. The bigger your down payment, the lower your loan amount will be. Increasing your down payment has benefits: a higher down payment makes it possible to get a lower loan at a lower interest rate. Putting more money down usually gives you the ability to borrow more.
Consider Taxes, Property Insurance, Closing Costs and Other Expenses
These necessary expenses factor into the price of the home you can afford. Be sure to calculate home insurance and property tax rates in Colorado and in the county you are exploring. Closing costs include loan origination, underwriting, appraisal, title insurance, wire and courier, and other fees.
Study the Area
Discover which neighborhood is best for you. Study the value of surrounding properties. This will help you know if the home you want is comparably priced to other homes in the area. Working with a knowledgeable Realtor provides insight and perspective on neighborhoods and home values. Be sure to find a Realtor who can help you navigate the search for a home and purchasing process.
To read the full article, visit https://smartasset.com/mortgage/millennial-home-buying-guide.
To find a home and realtor for you, visit http://www.boulderco.com.
Originally posted by RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, July 6th, 2018 at 10:11am.
Market demand continues to be strong for Boulder County residential real estate with continued improvements for June sales compared to May.
“Sales were strong through June. It’s a lively market, but certainly not overheated,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.
Single-family home sales in Boulder County improved 2.3 percent in June 2018 compared to May 2018 – 498 vs. 487 units – while townhome/condominium sales jumped 31.3 percent – 189 units sold vs. 144.
Year-to-date sales show ongoing growth with single-family home sales rising 2.4 percent through June compared to the prior year – 2,218 vs. 2,166 units – and condo and townhome sales improving 6.6 percent year-over-year – 776 units sold compared to 728.
Inventory is holding steady, which typically correlates with strong sales. Single-family homes for sale increased 9.4 percent – 1,004 homes for sale in June compared to 918 in May. Condo/townhomes inventory rose 14.4 percent over the same period, making 238 units available for sale vs. 208 in May.
Prices are one indication of market temperature. So far, 2018 has seen average and median sales prices continue to rise year-over-year, with all Boulder Valley markets showing improvement in the single-family category for June. Condos/townhomes also showed improvement in both median and average sale prices in every community except statistics for Louisville, Niwot and the Mountains.
Hotard notes that typically “July has a pullback in sales, due to summer vacation schedules and the anticipation of school starting.”
“Market demand is impressive and prices are holding up,” he says. “Single-family homes average selling price has been over a million for months now and shows no signs of cooling off.”
If you feel like you live in a great state for your career, it’s official: you are absolutely correct. Among all 50 states, Colorado is the second best state for finding a job, according to analysis by WalletHub.
The only state where job seekers fare better is Washington, with a total WalletHub score of 71.45 compared to Colorado’s 70.04.
But in “Job Market Rank,” Colorado pulled the top position at No. 1, followed by Utah, Maryland and Minnesota. Washington came in at No. 7.
Total score of most attractive states for employment was determined by WalletHub’s comparison of 50 states across 29 key indicators of job-market strength, opportunity and a healthy economy. The two key dimensions were Job Market and Economic Environment. Job Market was weighted more heavily since the factors in that category most heavily influence a job seeker’s decision in terms of relocation for employment.
Here’s how Colorado ranked in key categories.
In ‘Economic Rank’ Colorado is No. 19. Economic Rank evaluates the economic environment based on indicators such as median annual income (adjusted by the cost of living), monthly average starting salary, share of workers living under poverty line, average length of work week, average commute time and commuter-friendly jobs.
At the city level, Aurora led Colorado as the top place to find a job, ranking No. 33 in the U.S. Denver followed at No. 35 and Colorado Springs No. 68. The top cities in ‘Job Market Rank’ are Peoria, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Chandler, AZ; Gilbert, AZ; and Scottsdale, AZ, ranking 1-5 respectively.
In April, Colorado’s state unemployment rate fell by a tenth of a point to 2.9 percent and Colorado employers added 7,200 non-farm jobs to their payrolls, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Nationally, the unemployment rate in April stood at 3.9 percent.
Average hourly earnings rose from $27.73 an hour to $28.91 over the past year. The average workweek remains unchanged at 33.7 percent.
For the full listing of statistics on the states, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-economies/21697/. For cities, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/.