City housing proposal may be Faustian bargain

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Posted on March 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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Real Estate Conference Set to Explore Boulder Valley Challenges and Trends

The eleventh annual Boulder Valley Real Estate Conference offers a packed day Thursday, November 15, exploring trends, commercial impacts, and inventory shortages in Boulder County commercial and residential real estate.

Organized by BizWest with presenting sponsor RE/MAX of Boulder, the event delivers an intensive schedule of national keynote speakers and panels made up of local real estate experts and development officials.

More than 500 real estate professionals and anyone interested in the local real estate market are expected to attend. Attendees get insights into residential and commercial real estate activity and coming opportunities in Boulder and Broomfield counties.

The conference kicks off with local real estate expert Todd Gullette, RE/MAX of Boulder Managing Broker, discussing the latest sales and price statistics and implications for residential real estate across Boulder Valley. The commercial forecast follows, with Angela Topel, Gibbons-White Senior Broker, exploring major commercial developments, sales and vacancy statistics.

Future technology – now turned present – takes center stage when Jay Kalinski, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, moderates a panel of real estate banking and technology experts, exploring “The Impact of Blockchain” on residential real estate. Blockchain technologies enable a shared, nationwide database of houses on the market. The panel will look at how Blockchain platforms affect Boulder County’s housing market and how Realtors should respond.

“Big Tech Settles In” focuses on the local impact of the tech economy and examines the surging Boulder tech scene, including expansions by Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Uber.

Conference keynote address presents the outlook of Wells Fargo’s EVP of Housing Policy and Homeownership Growth Strategies, Brad Blackwell, and MetroStudy’s Senior Director West Region, John Covert.

Next up, “Breaking Ground” – back by popular demand – reveals commercial and residential developments in the Boulder Valley and beyond. A panel of city-employed development directors from Lafayette, Longmont, Louisville, Superior, Boulder, Erie and Broomfield provide a complete rundown of the region’s top projects.

“Wrestling with Supply” tackles the top challenge for Boulder-area residential real estate markets. Lack of housing inventory, issues with infill development, height limits, accessory-dwelling units and zoning conspire to cause a critical housing shortage. Moderated by Duane Duggan, RE/MAX of Boulder Realtor, the panel will discuss policy changes developers believe would address the problem.

“Icons of Real Estate” is back by popular demand. Featuring long-time successful real estate experts Tom Kalinski, Owner/Founder, RE/MAX of Boulder; Stephanie Iannone, Managing Broker, Housing Helpers; and Seth Chernoff, CEO, Chernoff Boulder Properties, audience members will ask questions to learn proven best practices and advice for success in commercial real estate.

The conference will be held from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Embassy Suites hotel, 2601 Canyon Blvd. in Boulder. Registration opens at 8:15 am. For details and to pre-register visit http://fallrealestateconference.com. Breakfast and lunch are included. The conference is open to anyone with an interest in Boulder Valley real estate. Conference attendees can earn six Van Education credits.

Conference details in this quick video: https://bit.ly/2PAsWQV

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 at 3:40pm.

Posted on November 14, 2018 at 10:33 pm
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What it’s like to be a first-time homebuyer in 2018

“Ever since we moved out here, we’ve been keeping an eye on the market,” Gibson says. “We see new houses go on the market, but that for-sale sign goes down and a for-rent sign takes its place, and so we’re competing with people that have the ability to buy multiple homes just to rent them out.”

The Gibsons live just north of Boulder in the town of Longmont, Colo. The Boulder area is one of the toughest markets for first-time buyers — and the epicenter of a growing housing affordability crisis.

“The country as a whole has been generally appreciating since coming out of the recession in 2011, 2012. Boulder has definitely led the way in a lot of ways,” says RE/MAX of Boulder’s Jay Kalinski, who is also the chair-elect of the Boulder Area Realtor Association. “Since 1991, we’ve appreciated more than anywhere else in the country — I think for over 400% appreciation since then. Our average single-family house in the city of Boulder now is around $1.2 million.” (The average price of a new home in the U.S. is $377,200, as of September, according to the Census.)

Yahoo Finance visited Boulder for HuffPost’s Listen to America town hall series installment on housing affordability and to talk to residents and local officials about the issues facing potential buyers in a market that serves as a snapshot of what’s happening across the country.

When you look at the affordability index, we’re getting less and less affordable as a community,” Kalinski says. “We’re becoming more akin to something like an Aspen or a Silicon Valley, where our home prices just are not going to support people who are making an average or even a good income.”

Watch the full HuffPost Listen to America town hall for To Develop Or Preserve: A Conversation About Affordable Housing In Boulder, CO.

Boulder City Council member Jill Adler Grano, who spoke at the Listen To America town hall, has been concerned with buyers getting priced out of the Boulder market for some time. “Unless you have money from another source or a lot of money saved up — a trust fund something like that — it’s very difficult to save for that down payment,” she says.

But there are steps the city is taking to address the issue. “As a city, we’re working on a pretty aggressive affordable housing program, so we have a goal of having 10% of our housing stock be permanently affordable,” she says. “At first that was all just for people making below area median income, but now we’ve realized that middle class is actually above area median income, so we’ve added another 5% goal for those making even above area median income but still being priced out of our city.”

But that path to homeownership has its own drawbacks, Kalinski says. “On the bright side, it means you can have a home in Boulder, you can live here at a reduced rate,” he says. “The downside is you don’t get the benefits of homeownership. Your growth is capped at 3% a year, and when the rest of the city is growing it’s a 10% to 15%, you’re giving up all of that upside.”

If income-sensitive housing isn’t an option, there are other routes cash-strapped buyers can take, including a trend Kalinski calls “driving until you qualify” that’s popular in the Boulder area. “First-time home buyers can either look a little further out or they can talk to their friends and family about trying to get a bigger down payment together to get into a market-rate home,” Kalinski says.

As for the Gibsons, they’re pressing ahead and trying to maintain a positive outlook. “I walk my dog around a lot and look at for-sale signs, look at ads, just trying to get an idea of what the market is,” Gibson says. “And hope that our hopes aren’t dashed when we get into a bidding war with about 10 other couples that are also trying to buy the same home.”

Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter.

Originally posted here on Yahoo Finance.

Posted on November 7, 2018 at 11:34 pm
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The one statistic every renter needs to see

By Jay Kalinski — 

That’s right, based on the latest available data from the Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances, the average net worth of a homeowner is $231,000, a whopping 44 times greater than the average renter’s $5,200 net worth.  What makes the situation more dire is the fact that the gap is widening.  From 2013 to 2016, the average net worth of homeowners increased 15 percent while the average net worth of renters decreased by 5 percent. The situation for renters is bad and getting worse.

More than any other factor I could identify, homeownership best explains the gap between the haves and have nots. People seem to understand this fact, as a Gallup poll showed that Americans chose real estate as the best long-term investment for the fourth year in a row. So, why aren’t more renters buying homes?

Desire?

It could be that renters do not want to own homes. Anecdotally, we hear stories about how Millennials prefer to rent to give them a more flexible lifestyle, but the research tells a different story. In fact, Millennials represent the largest share of homebuyers today and only 7 percent of respondents to an NAR survey said that they did not want the responsibility of owning. More generally, 82 percent of renters expressed a desire in the fourth quarter of 2017 to be homeowners and about the same percentage said that homeownership is part of the American Dream.

What is driving this desire for renters to become owners? According to a recent survey, the main reasons renters would want to buy a home are: a change in lifestyle such as getting married, starting a family or retiring; an improved financial situation; and a desire to settle down in one location.

Renters seem to know that owning a home is a great investment, and they overwhelmingly express a desire to do so, and yet something is preventing many of them:

Ability

Based on a recent NAR survey, it appears that ability (perceived or actual) is the biggest obstacle to homeownership. In fact, 66 percent of renters reported that it would be somewhat or very difficult to save for a downpayment on a home. Only 16 percent said that it would not be difficult at all. Of those who said saving for a downpayment was difficult, 49 percent identified student loans, 42 percent cited credit card debt, and 37 percent cited car loans.

The above, however, only focuses on one aspect of home affordability. Another side is home price appreciation.  That is, if homes were more affordable, it would be easier to save for a downpayment.  Unfortunately for local renters, Boulder County has appreciated more since 1991 than any other area in the country — more than 380 percent! The average single family Boulder County home topped $708,000 in February 2018, which is almost 20 percent higher than two years ago.

In addition, interest rates are on the rise in 2018, and we’ve already covered how a 1 percent increase in interest rates can reduce your purchasing power by 10 percent.

Takeaways

There are two takeaways from this. First, for renters, you may be familiar with the adage “The best time to buy a home was 30 years ago. The second best time is now.” That is true now more than ever. If you have been considering making the jump to homeownership, now is the time. At this point, each day delayed likely equals less home for the money.

Second, for local government officials, if you truly support the idea of affordable (market rate) workforce housing, you have the power to encourage it. Without you, the affordability situation will only continue to deteriorate.

Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.

 

Posted on April 10, 2018 at 7:51 pm
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Boulder Valley 2018 real estate predictions

The Boulder Valley real estate market has undergone a shift in 2017.  While we began the year in a fairly strong seller’s market, it soon became apparent that the indicators we track were pointing to a shift toward a more balanced market. 

Making predictions is always a risky business, but here are my top three predictions for 2018 and what they will likely mean for people in the market.

1. Appreciation will continue (but at a slower pace).

While the Boulder area continues to top the country in total appreciation since 1991 (a whopping 371 percent), we have fallen out of the top 10 — to number 19 — nationally in terms of one-year appreciation (10.84 percent according to FHFA). Nevertheless, many structural factors point to increased upward pressure on home values (including low unemployment, strong net migration, and lack of lots to build upon).

For single family homes, Boulder County experienced 5 percent appreciation through the first three quarters of 2017. While this is solid, it pales when compared to the over 15 percent appreciation during the same period of 2016.

In 2018, I predict we will see about 5 percent overall appreciation in Boulder County, with individual cities varying substantially.  I predict that the highest appreciation rates will be in Longmont and Erie, and the slowest appreciation will be in the City of Boulder.

For attached homes (townhouses and condos), Boulder County experienced a meager 1.7 percent improvement through the third quarter of 2017. This number is somewhat misleading, as most areas were up by a higher percentage while the City of Boulder was actually down 3.7 percent.

For 2018, I predict that attached homes will appreciate by about 5 percent, with appreciation being higher in every locale except the City of Boulder. In Boulder, it is possible that we will see a continued decline in prices, especially if investment property owners who have not brought their units up to Smartregs compliance decide to sell rather than spend the money to them into compliance.

What this means: For buyers, now is a great time to buy, especially if you are in the market for a condo in the City of Boulder.  Waiting will cost you, but not as much as in previous years.  For homeowners, if you are considering selling, you have ridden a strong wave of appreciation over the last several years, and you will not likely see the same rate of appreciation by continuing to hold.

2. Inventory will increase in 2018.

Since 2011, the inventory of available homes on the market has generally gone down when compared to the preceding year. That trend finally broke in 2017, with available inventory of both single family and attached homes rising above 2016 numbers. Without getting too deeply into the weeds, a number of indicators that we use to track the market point to a continuation of this trend in 2018.  Some of the more telling indicators are (1) a falling sales price to list price ratio, (2) an increase in months of inventory, and (3) more expired listings (homes that did not sell on the market).

In the City of Boulder, on the single family side, I predict that inventory will see the biggest increase in the $1 million+ market as a gap has started to open between sellers’ opinions of their homes’ values and what buyers are willing to pay for them. On the attached side, we will likely see an increase as well, partly due to an influx of non-Smartreg-compliant units as well as condos at the Peloton being converted from apartments.

What this means: For buyers, you will finally have more homes to choose from in your search. For sellers, you will have to be much more careful when pricing your home to avoid being rejected by the market.

3. Interest rates will rise modestly.

For the past several years, numerous experts have predicted mortgage interest rate increases. And for as many years, the rate increases have been non-existent or far more modest than predicted, even after the Fed increased its Fed Funds Rate. Speaking of which, the Fed is expected to raise rates again this month as the economy shows continued signs of recovery. However, the number and size of interest rate increases in 2018 is far from certain because of a change in leadership of the Fed.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, predicts that rates will increase to 4.5 percent by the end of 2018, which is about 0.5 percent higher than current rates. This figure could be affected by tax reform, the country’s economic performance, and other political factors. Nevertheless, for planning purposes, an increase to 4.5 percent in 2018 is likely to be in the ballpark.

What this means: While appreciation rates and inventory are starting to move into buyers’ favor, there will be a cost to waiting to enter the market in terms of affordability.  That is, the longer you wait, the more you will likely pay for a home and the more interest you will likely pay for it.

Conclusion: Sellers have been the primary beneficiaries of the real estate market since the recovery of the Great Recession, but 2018 will finally see buyers in a stronger position.

 

Published in BizWest on December 6, 2017. Original found here.

Posted on February 5, 2018 at 8:46 pm
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Top Five Reasons to Sell Your Home Early in 2018

If you’re planning to sell your home this year, timing can make a big difference in your home’s final selling price.

Even though statistics show Boulder County’s real estate market remains among the hottest in the country, Realtor.com reports that your “window of opportunity may be rapidly narrowing.”

“We’ve seen two or three years of what could be considered unsustainable levels of price appreciation,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com®.

The key word there is “unsustainable.” Changes on the near horizon suggest you should get going and be among the first to sell your home in 2018. Here are the top five reasons:

1. Interest rates remain historically low

While interest rates have already increased from the recent lows, today’s 30-year mortgage rates at just above 4 percent still draw buyers into the market.

But experts predict rates will rise to a less enticing five percent before the end of the year. With rate hikes expected to continue, you should list your home earlier in the year. You will not only sell your home more quickly, if you’re buying another home, you’ll benefit from the lower rates.

2. Inventory is tight and demand high

In the red-hot housing market of Boulder County, buyers far outnumber available homes for sale. Tight inventory is a trend that extends across the nation. And the housing shortage will likely get worse before it gets better: Realtor.com predicts inventory will see a decline of 4 percent year-over-year by March.

Inventory shortages result in quick sales, bidding wars, and pro-seller terms. This can be especially true in areas like Boulder County, where a prolonged shortage has persisted for years.

Cash buyers are also a factor, making up 22 percent of all home sales nationwide in November 2017, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

3. Home prices are still increasing

While home price increases in the Boulder area have moderated recently, prices are still rising. But with interest rates increasing, slowing price appreciation is expected to continue. By listing your home sooner rather than later, you’ll avoid the cooling trend.

4. Buyers are better off financially

“Incomes are growing and people are finding better and more stable jobs,” Vivas says. High consumer confidence, low unemployment, and stock market surges make buyers feel good about their financial outlook.

In fact, the Fed projects an unemployment rate of below 4 percent for the first time since the 1960s, reports Realtor.com.

All of this fuels home sales, which grew 5.6 percent nationally in November 2017, reaching its strongest pace in nearly 11 years.

5. Millennials want to buy

More and more millennials are entering their 30s, a time in which taking the homeownership plunge becomes increasingly desirable. Realtor.com data suggest that this demographic group could account for 43 percent of home buyers taking out a mortgage in 2018, equating a 3 percent year-over-year increase.

In a complex real estate market, local real estate knowledge helps you time the sale of your home to your best advantage. So, if you’re considering selling, consult with a Realtor soon.

You can read more at https://www.realtor.com/advice/sell/reasons-to-sell-your-home-in-2018/

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, January 26th, 2018 at 11:15am.
Posted on January 30, 2018 at 8:45 pm
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