Race and real estate: Past, present, and future

Home ownership has been part of the American Dream since the founding of our republic. It confers economic benefits, a sense of safety and security, and can be a source of pride.  Sadly, for as long as this part of the American Dream has existed, it has not been equally available to everyone.  As you will see, as much progress as has been made in 200+ years, our work is far from done to ensure that the dream — and reality — of owning a home is truly and equally open to all Americans.

Property protection officially began in the United States with the passage of the Fifth Amendment in 1789, but virtually anyone who was not a white man did not receive this right. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment declared all people born in the U.S. were citizens and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 stated that all citizens had the same rights to real property as white men. This should have been the end of the story, but a series of court decisions, immigration laws and racially discriminatory zoning laws ensured that property rights continued to be denied to minorities and women.

Woefully and to its shame, in the late 1800s and into the 1900s, the National Association of Real Estate Boards (the precursor to the National Association of Realtors) encouraged racial discrimination and segregation. In fact, its Code of Ethics even mandated that its members work to racially segregate communities.

In 1917, the Supreme Court declared racial zoning ordinances to be unconstitutional, so private restrictive covenants were then used to prohibit the sale of homes to minorities. The Federal Housing Administration, created in 1934, used “redlining” in this period to identify African American areas as high risk by shading them in red and steering whites away from such areas, and real estate agents used discriminatory practices like steering and blockbusting (see the resource links below for more information).

In 1948, the Supreme Court struck down racially restrictive private covenants, though they lingered in practice, even if unenforceable. In a small bright spot, Colorado was the first state in the nation to pass a fair housing law in 1959, helping pave the way for nationwide fair housing legislation.

As many know, the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, but less well known is that legislators could not agree on fair housing legislation and NAR actively opposed passage of the Fair Housing Act.  It was not until 1968, in the wake of the Kerner Commission Report (studying the causes of race riots) and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., that the Fair Housing Act was passed to prohibit discrimination based on race, color, religion or national origin.

By 1975, NAR had finally turned the corner, adopting an agreement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to promote fair housing, educate its members about their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and recommend fair housing procedures for its members to follow.

Today, the Realtor Code of Ethics requires Realtors to provide equal services regardless of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin in accordance with the Fair Housing Act, as amended. The code even goes beyond the act by covering sexual orientation and gender identity.

Despite the progress that has been slowly and painfully won, much work remains to be done to ensure truly equal opportunity in home ownership and property rights. In terms of numbers, the homeownership rate for white households in 2017 was 72.3%, but only 46.2% for Hispanic households and 41.6% for African American households (this is about the same rate of home ownership for African Americans as when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968).

The truth is, there are many things that need to change to realize this dream. Locally, it is time to revisit zoning and occupancy laws (see, e.g., www.bedroomsareforpeople.com), and more broadly, groups like the Fair Housing Alliance have put together concrete steps toward a solution (https://nationalfairhousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Fair-Housing-Solutions-Overcoming-Real-Estate-Sales-Discrimination-2.pdf).

It is incumbent on all of us — especially elected officials, real estate professionals and the mortgage industry — to continue to do better to make fair housing not just the law of the land, but also the reality. 

Originally posted by Jay Kalinski is the 2020 chair of the Boulder Area Realtor Association and owner of Re/Max of Boulder and Re/Max Elevate.

Posted on July 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm
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Real estate in the time of COVID-19

At the start of the year, I read an article about the 10 biggest threats to the global economy in 2020, written by a prestigious international organization.  “Global pandemic” did not make the list, which goes to show how generally lousy we humans are at accurately predicting the future.  As such, any predictions that I (or anyone else) could give you about how this pandemic will unfold, in terms of its impact on the local real estate market, would likely fare no better than random chance.  Similarly, with the situation evolving so rapidly, any advice or best practices I could offer today may become obsolete in short order.

So, rather than peddle advice and predictions, let’s pause and take stock.

Nationally:

Back in 2008, the financial crisis was sparked in the real estate sector and led to a crisis that nearly collapsed the banking system.  We see from history that recessions that begin in the housing sector tend to be worse and last longer than recessions ignited by other factors.  Today, the recession we are likely heading into has a very different background — our economy and housing market were far stronger and more resilient, thanks in part to the measures put in place after that recession (tighter lending restrictions, more stringent liquidity requirements for banks, etc.).  In fact, we were enjoying the longest economic expansion since WWII.

According to National Association of Realtors chief economist Dr. Lawrence Yun, “Conditions today are very different than the last boom/bust cycle.  In 2004, we had a huge oversupply of new homes.  In 2019, we still had a huge undersupply of new homes.  In fact, we haven’t been building enough new homes to keep up with demand in over a decade.  During the last downturn, there was the subprime factor and the variable interest rate.  Now there are fewer variable rate mortgages and virtually no sub-prime mortgages.”

Colorado and Boulder County outperform the nation:

Colorado is well-positioned as a top economy nationally.  Real GDP growth in Colorado ranked seventh in the nation year-over-year, and the state’s five-year average ranks fifth, according to economist Rich Wobbekind with CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.  Wobbekind says that Boulder County’s economy has been outgrowing the state economy, and is uniquely able to weather a recession.  Boulder County’s economic vitality is fueled by a highly educated workforce and diverse ecosystem of industries including government research facilities, aerospace, biotechnology, cleantech, and information technology — industries that endure in the long term.

Boulder ranks number one in the nation for home value stability and growth for the fifth consecutive year, according to SmartAsset. As discussed in our recently published real estate report, based on our extensive data and market analysis, we have had a healthy housing market through 2019.  Even through the grim days of the Great Recession, home prices in Boulder County declined only by 5 percent and recovered quickly post-recession. If you held onto your home for at least six years, there is no period when you would have lost money on your investment here.

Summing up:

While past performance is no guarantee of future results, the real estate market in our area has a history of weathering recent recessions better than other places and recovering more quickly after the storm has passed.  Given everything that is going on, I still believe that owning property in Boulder Valley is and will continue to be an excellent investment.

Be well and do what you can to flatten the curve.  Stay home.

Posted on April 1, 2020 at 3:00 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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Boulder-area market holding steady, proving strong demand eclipses low inventory

It’s beginning to look a lot like this year’s Boulder County real estate sales performance will outperform last year’s robust close. Year-over-year sales data for 2017 shows slight improvements compared to 2016, even with inventory at persistently low levels.

“It just proves that demand is strong and consistent,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

Single-family home sales in the Boulder area improved 2.1 percent year-to-date through November 2017 compared to the prior year – 4,224 homes sold vs. 4,138.

And the sale of 1,377 condominiums and townhomes through November represented a 5.5 percent gain compared to the prior year’s 1,305 units sold.

“We saw year-over-year sales improvements, but the pull-back in November compared to October was more than average,” says Hotard.

He’s referring to the 7.9 percent drop in single-family home sales in November compared to October — 359 vs.  390 homes sold. Attached dwellings sold decreased 2.4 percent month-over-month with 123 units sold vs. 126.

Since the weather was excellent for house hunting, the pullback is likely indicative of more than the typical seasonal slowdown.

“Inventory is probably the culprit in the November pullback this year, which resulted in not only fewer sales, but also a softening of prices,” he says. When it comes to low inventory, there is “no end is in sight for the foreseeable future.”

Hotard believes price-softening is confined to higher end homes where inventories are larger and homes take twice as many days on the market before selling. “Lower priced homes are not affected,” he adds.

While buyer demand is strong, low inventory can’t supply that demand. November’s inventory is telling: Single-family homes for sale in the Boulder-area dropped 22.8 percent in November compared to October with 777 homes for sale vs. 1,006. Condos and townhomes felt the pinch slightly harder with a 24.7 percent drop for the month of November – 146 units vs. 194.

Mortgage interest deductions may diminish in importance as a result of the doubling of the standard deduction as part of recent tax reform legislation. The National Association of Realtors predicts only a small percent of homeowners will take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction in years to come because of that change.

 

*Photo courtesy of Edwin Andrade on Unsplash.com

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, January 5th, 2018 at 10:15am.

Posted on January 16, 2018 at 5:38 pm
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