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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Equity Rich Properties Dominate Boulder County Cities

More than 40 percent of homeowners in Boulder County are equity rich – that is the amount of loans secured by the property is 50 percent or less of the property’s estimated market value, according to ATTOM Data Solutions Q3 2018 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report.

Cities in Boulder County notch the upper end of the equity rich measure. Here are the statistics for Boulder County. Percentages within cities vary slightly by zip code:

Boulder – 55% equity rich

Louisville – 46% equity rich

Lafayette – 42% equity rich

Longmont – 41% equity rich

Statewide, Colorado homeowners aren’t far behind with more than 32 percent of Colorado properties equity rich.

Across the U.S., nearly 14.5 million properties are equity rich. That’s 25.7 percent of all mortgaged properties, up from 24.9 percent the previous quarter. Conversely, the share of seriously underwater properties dropped to 8.8 percent. ATTOM says properties categorized as seriously underwater have a combined estimated balance of loans at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value.

States with the highest share of equity rich properties are California, 42.5 percent; Hawaii, 39.4 percent; Washington, 35.3 percent; New York, 34.9 percent and Oregon, 33.6 percent. Colorado is close on Oregon’s heels with 32.3 percent equity rich properties.

“As homeowners stay put longer, they continue to build more equity in their homes despite the recent slowing in rates of home price appreciation,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president with ATTOM Data Solutions. “West coast markets along with New York have the highest share of equity rich homeowners while markets in the Mississippi Valley and Rust Belt continue to have stubbornly high rates of seriously underwater homeowners when it comes to home equity.”

The ATTOM Data Solutions U.S. Home Equity & Underwater report provides counts of properties based on several categories of equity at the state, metro, county and zip code level, along with the percentage of total properties with a mortgage that each equity category represents.

For the full report and to view statistics by zip code, visit: https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/home-sales-prices/home-equity-underwater-report-q3-2018/

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 at 2:54pm.

Posted on February 20, 2019 at 5:00 pm
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Home Sales Slow in December, Show Slight Decline for Year End

Boulder County home sales declined for December, but overall 2018 sales held somewhat steady with a slight decrease.

“December was not a fabulous month for home sales, particularly for attached dwellings,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

Sales of condominiums and townhomes in the Boulder-area dropped 42.9 percent in December compared to November – 72 units sold vs. 126. For the year, attached dwelling sales improved .02 percent with 1,525 units sold vs. 1,522.

Single-family home sales dropped 2.6 percent with 302 sales vs. 310 for December compared to November. Year-over-year, single-family home sales dropped 2.3 percent – 4,533 sales vs. 4,640.

Hotard points out the total decline for all Boulder County dwellings sold for the year – attached and single-family – was only 1.8 percent. That compares to a 3.1 percent national decline reported by the National Association of Realtors.

“Our Boulder County market continues to perform well. Job growth is good, demand is strong, and the area is desirable,” says Hotard, adding that inventory is an ongoing challenge.

Inventory of single-family homes dropped 24 percent in December compared to November—declining to 624 units from 821, while multi-family unit inventory decreased 22.4 percent—204 units versus 63—over the same period.

So where do we go from here?

Hotard says many reports indicate the U.S. is entering a home sales slump, but he expects the Boulder County markets to continue to buck the national trend.

“It’s possible well see a year-over-year decline similar to this year, but I don’t expect it to be more significant, if our markets decline at all,” he says.

In Hotard’s assessment, strong fundamentals in Boulder County are not waning: Employers continue to bring new jobs and prices are holding or improving.

But inventory continues to take a hit. “We need to see inventory numbers improve as we head into March, April, May and June,” Hotard adds.

“It’s going to be ‘steady as she goes’ in 2019, as long as we don’t have any major national or international events.”

 

Originally posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Monday, February 11th, 2019 at 1:34pm.

Posted on February 11, 2019 at 3:00 pm
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Be mindful of warning signs in housing market

2018 was another strong year for residential real estate in Colorado in general and Boulder Valley in particular, but what’s in store for 2019?

First, a look back at 2018.  Nationally, Colorado jumped from 10th to fifth among all states for one-year appreciation, with a 9.16 percent increase in home values.  Boulder County improved from 57th in 2017 to 41st in 2018, with over 9.5 percent price appreciation.  Below are the 10 “Vital Statistics” for Boulder Valley we track to gauge the health of the real estate market from year to year.

As you can see, most of the indicators point toward an appreciating market, though increasing interest rates and a drop in the percentage of homes under contract indicate potential signs of weakness emerging. 

In the city of Boulder, the average price of a single-family home topped $1,215,000, which was up 11 percent from 2017.  However, Boulder also saw almost 50 fewer home sales than last year, which highlights our continued shortage of inventory.  The most affordable city in Boulder County continues to be Longmont, but even there, the average price of a single-family home is now over $460,000 and may reach $500,000 if its appreciation trend continues.

One statistic that gets very little attention is that we often see home prices dip slightly in the second half of the year as compared to the first.  As the chart below shows, we generally see appreciation through June or July, and then values trail off slightly.  What this chart means is that, if you’re a seller your best bet is to sell in the spring, and if you’re a buyer, try to buy in the fall when home prices are stagnant or dropping.

2018 was quite strong — will 2019 be similar?

Locally, conditions in our area generally support continued appreciation in residential real estate.  The total number of active listings available is still less than half of what it was before the Great Recession, which is likely to keep home prices growing, especially as our economy remains strong (very low unemployment) and we continue to see net migration into our area.

There are, however, several trends that could derail continued growth in our market.  First, interest rates are almost a full point higher than they were in 2017, and I’ve discussed before how a one point increase in interest rates can reduce purchasing power by 10 percent.  The Fed had indicated its intent to continue to raise rates in 2019, however, the news from the Fed’s most recent meeting in January suggested that they may hold off until at least June.

Second, the potential for a recession in the next year or two could begin dragging on home sales.  One indicator is that the yield curve (which compares rates for short-term vs. long-term Treasury notes) has been getting flatter.  When the yield curve inverts (that’s when rates for 10-year notes dip below rates for 2-year notes), it is very often followed by a recession.

Finally, local no-growth and anti-growth policies, regulations, and mindsets are making it increasingly difficult to add inventory to our region.  The dearth of homes to sell could negatively impact our market — and it is the only factor here that we as citizens have a measure of control over.

2019 has the potential to be another great year for residential real estate in Boulder Valley, but we need to be mindful of the potential derailers mentioned above.

 

Originally posted on BizWest.  Jay Kalinski is broker/owner of Re/Max of Boulder.

Posted on February 6, 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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November Sales Head in Opposite Directions

A tale of two markets emerged in November, as Boulder County’s single-family home sales skidded to a stop, while townhomes and condos took a significant leap forward.

Single-family home sales in the Boulder-area markets dropped 14.4 percent in November compared to October —310 vs. 362 homes—while condominium and townhome sales rose 14.5 percent—126 units vs. 110.

Yet when data for 2018’s first 11 months is considered, the two markets tracked closely together, and both appear to be slowing, according to Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

“This is the first month single-family home sales fell below last year, and condos and townhomes are only slightly ahead,” Hotard explains.

Year-to-date through November, sales of single-family homes decreased 1.4 percent compared to the prior year with 4,205 homes sold vs. 4,266. Attached home sales over the same period improved 3.3 percent – 1,445 vs. 1,399 units sold.

Inventory decreased in both housing categories, though more significantly for single-family homes, which dropped 13.1 percent in November compared to October with 821 vs. 945 Boulder County homes for sale. Condo/townhome inventory fell 6.1 percent in November compared to the previous month with 263 units for sale vs. 280.

“My guess is the growth of the townhome/condo market is due to a larger inventory and more affordable pricing,” says Hotard. “Interest rates are making people jumpy, but the reality is that mortgage rates are still historically low. The more complete view is the inventory and pricing dynamics of the Boulder-area markets.”

He notes that single-family home sales could recover in December, but it’s not likely.

“We have the ongoing headwinds of low inventory and rising prices. When we look back, we’ll see 2018 as market slowdown for housing in our market areas,” Hotard predicts.

Despite the slow-down in housing, Colorado’s economy continues to show strength, wage growth is increasing, and gross domestic product is up, according to recent news reports.

“What the Boulder-area needs is more housing that is desirable and more affordable for people,” adds Hotard.

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 10:13am.

Posted on January 3, 2019 at 11:13 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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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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Three Colorado Cities Claim Smokin’ Hot Zip Codes

Colorado Springs’ 80922 zip code is the No. 2 spot hottest zip code in the country – moving up from No. 7 in 2017, according to analysis of 32,000 zip codes by realtor.com®.

The annual analysis of zip codes looks at how long it takes homes to sell and how frequently properties in each zip code are viewed to determine which zip codes are most popular and fastest moving.

Greeley’s 80631 and Broomfield’s 80021 zip codes also ranked in the top 50 hottest, coming in at Nos. 44 and 48 respectively.

High-income millennials helped fuel a 10 percent rise in how fast homes sold in popular areas in 2018. More and more millennials are getting older and buying homes, which realtor.com says is driving demand in smaller, more affordable suburban areas. These 25- to 34-year-olds are attracted to affordability, strong local economies, and outdoor and cultural amenities.

The number of households in Colorado Springs grew 21 percent from 2010-2018. Homes in El Paso County sell in 15 days with a median list price of $297,811 – an increase of 9.7 percent in the last year. Located 60 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs offers lifestyle features millennials want – outdoor activities, popular local breweries, and more affordable housing than Denver.

Here are the top ten hottest zip codes in the U.S.

Homes in the top 10 hottest markets sell in 20 days on average, 46 days faster than the rest of the country, 25 days faster than their respective metro areas, and 18 days faster than their respective counties.

In eight out of the top 10 ZIPs, millennial median household income is 1.3 times higher than the national median, $78,000 versus $60,000, respectively. Mortgage originations in nine of the top 10 counties are millennial-dominated with 34 percent of mortgage originations.

For the full report visit https://www.realtor.com/research/hottest-zip-codes-2018/

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, October 24th, 2018 at 2:19pm.

Posted on October 25, 2018 at 7:07 pm
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Boulder County Home Sales Soar into Late Summer

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.”

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 at 10:46am.

Posted on October 4, 2018 at 10:59 pm
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