Council may be stealing economic opportunity

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.

So what?

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 council@bouldercolorado.gov, 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.

Posted on September 4, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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4 Key Home Buying Trends to Watch in 2019

As we look ahead to coming trends in 2019 real estate, home buyers and sellers nationwide will face changes in the marketplace, according to the economic research team at realtor.com. From housing inventory to generational shifts, here are four top trends to look for in 2019.

1. Inventory will grow, especially for luxury homes

Inventory has been tight nationwide, hitting its lowest level in recorded history in the winter of 2017, says realtor.com. Supply finally began catching up with demand in 2018. That inventory growth will continue in 2019, but at rate of less than 7 percent. While sellers will have more competition, it will still be a good market.

“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com chief economist.

“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers, but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations,” she adds.

In markets with strong economies and high-paying jobs, most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.

2. Affording a home will be challenging

Interest rates and home prices are expected to continue to increase. Hale says homebuyers will continue to feel a “pinch” from affordability, as costs will still be a pain point. She predicts mortgage rates will reach around 5.5 percent by the end of 2019, which translates into the typical mortgage payment increasing by about 8 percent. Incomes are growing about 3 percent on average. These factors are hardest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow most heavily.

3. Millennials will dominate

Millennials are now the biggest generation of home buyers. Some are first-time home buyers, while others are moving up from starter homes. The millennial group accounts for 45 percent of mortgages compared with baby boomers and Gen Xers at 17 and 37 percent respectively, reports realtor.com. And many millennials still have student debt, which adds to the challenge of affording a home.

4. The new tax law’s effect is still unknown

For many tax filers, the effect of the new tax law won’t be known until their April tax filing results in a bigger tax bill or a bigger refund.

Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but the new increased standard deduction reduces the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction. The new tax law may dissuade people from taking out large mortgages which will affect higher cost homes. Add these factors to the challenge of affording a home and homeownership for some may be harder to achieve or less appealing.

The net effect of the coming 2019 trends is that even with these challenges, sellers are in a good position and homeowners will continue to enjoy positive financial gains from their home.

For more information, read the full report at https://www.realtor.com/news/trends/real-estate-trends-expect-2019/

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Thursday, January 10th, 2019 at 10:05am.

Posted on January 10, 2019 at 11:51 pm
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Despite Monthly Swings, Boulder County Home Sales Hold a Strong Course

If there is one constant in Boulder Valley, it’s a strong real estate market. October’s sales statistics show 2018 is on track to finish strong. This is despite that month-to-month, those statistics sometimes show significant fluctuation.

Take September and October 2018. When compared to October, September’s data is like Colorado weather: If you don’t like the statistics one month, wait a month, they are likely to change.

September’s single-family sales dropped 20 percent, then recovered to gain 8.7 percent in October with 362 homes sold vs. September’s 333. Despite the short-term fluctuation, year-to-date sales are holding steady through October, reaching just one unit short of the same volume as last year – 3,880 vs. 3,881.

“It’s hard to characterize our market here in Boulder County. Given all of the factors, it can be difficult to decipher trends as opposed to an event,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

“While the swings add volatility to the market, the market exhibits good health with strong demand, and prices and sales holding steady,” he says, adding that a strong economy and job growth continue to be drivers.

Condo/townhomes in Boulder County saw a month-over-month sales decrease of 5.2 percent, with 110 units sold in October compared to 116 in September. Year-to-date attached dwelling sales rose 4 percent through October – 1,317 vs. 1,266.

October’s inventory for attached dwellings also increased 7.3 percent over September with 280 units available in October compared to 261 the prior month. Single-family home inventory declined 10 percent, with 945 homes available for sale in October compared to 1,050 in September 2018.

Hotard projects November and December sales will be “anybody’s guess depending on the weather. But all things being equal, I don’t expect much change through the end of the year.”

The next big change he expects will be in early 2019. “I think we’ll see a big increase in inventory and sales in February and March. I think people will look at taking the gains we have seen in this market, providing inventory and set the market up for pretty strong increases in the big home selling months.”

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, November 27th, 2018 at 9:40am.

Posted on November 28, 2018 at 5:14 pm
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