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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Kalinski: How buying and selling a home will change in the Roaring 20s

As we enter a new decade, the massive wave of technological advancements fueled by entrepreneurial tech companies has reshaped consumers’ expectations.  Companies such as  Uber and Amazon have both dramatically shortened the time that people expect to wait for gratification and raised consumers’ expectations with regard to the ease and smoothness of the experience.  That is, consumers now expect to press a button and have whatever it is that they want delivered to them in a matter of a couple days (Amazon shipments), hours, or even minutes (Uber rides); moreover, they want to be able to track their shipment’s progress through a simple, pleasing interface on their phones.

While consumers now expect smooth, pleasant and near instant gratification in most aspects of their lives, the real estate home sale process still typically takes 30 to 45 days and — due to its complexity, legal ramifications, and the fact that it is an ongoing negotiation between multiple parties — it is usually neither frictionless nor “fun.”  This growing friction between consumers’ expectations and the longer duration and complexity of completing a real estate transaction has made the industry ripe for innovation.  What follows are the likely developments that will make real estate transactions faster and easier over the coming decade.

1.  The home search-to-closing customer journey.  The days of agents-as-gatekeepers of real estate listings are gone.  These days, most buyers start their search online and look at up to hundreds of homes to educate themselves.  When they get serious, though, about 90 percent of buyers (and sellers) choose to use an agent to help them with the home buying/selling process. 

Why is that?  It’s because Realtors realized that they needed to change their value proposition to buyers and sellers in order to stay relevant and, well, valuable.  One of the challenges for buyers and sellers is that, with the exponential growth of information available on the internet, the amount of “noise” has grown exponentially as well, but the valuable information (the “signal”) has become harder to find.  Today’s Realtors have things that are in short supply online: hyperlocal and market knowledge, a network of trusted vendors and professionals, expert negotiation skills, a refined process to make the home buying/selling experience less painful, etc.  These skilled Realtors who have adapted to consumers’ shifting expectations provide their clients with better technology, a smoother process, and expert advice.  Those agents who fail to adapt will eventually exit the business.

Other innovators, such as so-called iBuyers, will make you an offer, often within a day, to buy your home for cash quickly.  This convenience, however, comes at a cost, as many iBuyers will likely cost you two-to-five times more out-of-your-pocket than using a Realtor would.

2.  The loan experience.  Typically, the longest (and perhaps most annoying) part of a real estate transaction is the loan process.  Many lenders can take 30 days or more to complete their due diligence, including their assessment of your loan-worthiness and an appraisal of the home, before approving a home purchase loan.  Anyone who has been through this process knows how frustrating and slow it can be.

Fortunately, at least for many people, this process may get a lot shorter and easier.  Lenders are using artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct automated appraisals on properties and help with assessing buyer’s applications.  For “in the box” situations, with well-qualified “W2 employees” buying homes that the AI algorithms can value with a high degree of confidence, the underwriting process can be dramatically shortened without the need for a physical appraisal.  This is already a reality — last fall, we represented buyer clients whose lender did not require an appraisal on the home they were buying and gave them very fast loan approval.

3.  The title and closing process.  Almost everything can seemingly be accomplished these days online from the comfort of your home.  However, at least in Colorado, you still need to physically go to the title company and hand-sign a stack of documents in front of its notary public (how barbaric, right?).  Well, this isn’t actually the title company’s fault, as many lenders — and state law — still require physical notarization of certain documents.

The good news is that this may change in 2020, if the Colorado legislature passes a bill similar to Senate Bill 18-109, which would allow optional remote notarization of documents.  If such a bill were to become law, then notarizations could be done using audio-video recording of the document signing (kind of like signing over Skype or FaceTime, but with more layers of security).  Thus, you would be able to close on the purchase/sale of your home from anywhere in the world, so long as you have a good internet connection.

Conclusion.  The players in the real estate industry have (finally) recognized that consumers’ expectations and demands have shifted and are innovating quickly to make the home buying and selling process faster, easier, and more enjoyable (or, at least, less painful).  Within the next few years, many people will be able to buy/sell a home in half the time or less than it takes on average today, and with a lot less disruption to their lives.

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

Posted on January 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm
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RE/MAX Elevate Calls Louisville Home

Why Louisville and why now?

Those are the questions RE/MAX Elevate, the sister franchise of RE/MAX of Boulder, had to answer when deciding whether to put roots down there with its first office. And the answers came easy. Louisville is to many the unofficial “Capital” of East Boulder County. Business booms there, school are great, families love it, and it’s been recognized numerous times in the national media as one of the safest and best places to live in the nation (Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2017, one of the “20 Safest Places to Live in Colorado” by Elite Personal Finance, and among the “10 Best Towns for Families in the U.S.” by Family Circle Magazine). Louisville is a great little city. In fact, 78 percent of respondents to a citizen survey rated Louisville as an “excellent” place to live.

So it was with much excitement that RE/MAX Elevate planted its flag at 724 Main Street and had its grand opening on May 1. The public was invited to enjoy a ribbon cutting ceremony with Shelley Angell, executive director of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce, live music by Louisville musician Johnny O., wine and sangria tasting with local Decadent Saint winery thanks to Premier Lending LLC, small bites by local Wildcraft Kitchen, desserts from Bittersweet Café & Confections, and flower arrangements donated by Red Door Flowers. RE/MAX Elevate thanks the sponsors and vendors who made it such a special day in Louisville.

It is with much excitement that RE/MAX Elevate planted its flag at 724 Main Street in Louisville and had its grand opening on May 1. (Photo: Jonathan Castner)


RE/MAX Elevate Broker/Owner Jay Kalinski. “It’s an ideal place to live and do business with a great quality of life. We Heart Louisville. That’s the sentiment you’ll see on t-shirts and stickers for RE/MAX Elevate.”

Jay says that for those who want a little more space to live in, along with the beauty and amenities of Boulder County, Louisville is a remarkably attractive choice.

Lest our readers think this is a case of a national “chain” without ties to the community setting up shop in a hot market, a brief history lesson is helpful.

RE/MAX of Boulder was founded 42 years ago in Boulder by Tom Kalinski. At the time it opened for business, it was only the third RE/MAX franchise in the United States. RE/MAX of Boulder has been the No. 1 company in Boulder Valley home sales for more than 30 of its 42 years and the No. 1 single RE/MAX office in the U.S. 8 times. The company has more than 100 award-winning Realtors who are among the best in the nation, averaging more than 15 years of experience. They are seasoned experts with the utmost dedication to clients, going far beyond the extra mile to help them navigate an often challenging market. Jay became Co-Owner of RE/MAX of Boulder in 2012 and helped further expand the company to where it is today, serving as Broker/Owner for several years.

While Jay remains co-owner of RE/MAX of Boulder, he has turned Broker duties back over to Tom, so he can focus on expanding RE/MAX Elevate. Jay is a Boulder native, CU-Boulder alumnus, and Tom’s son. Jay, a lawyer and military veteran, says, “We’re thrilled to introduce RE/MAX Elevate to Louisville, where many of our founding real estate agents – and their families – live, work, and go to school, and where our clients are selling or searching for homes. We are rooted in the community.”

Jay has been a licensed broker for 10 years and a licensed attorney for 14 years having worked at several prominent law firms and serving 4 ½ years on active duty as an Air Force JAG officer. “We are committed to the city of Louisville, East Boulder County, Broomfield, and beyond,” Jay says. “And as a small local veteran-owned business, we are excited to be actively involved in the local entrepreneurial community and with nonprofits and community organizations and to support the vitality and wellbeing of the community.”

Manager Tammy Milano with Broker/Owner Jay Kalinski

Realtors in both offices have donated gift baskets from Louisville businesses for a free drawing, which kicked off during the grand opening party. Drop by any day during business hours in May to enter. Tickets will be drawn and winners announced during the Taste of Louisville on June 1. And to celebrate the opening of the new office, RE/MAX Elevate is sponsoring the Louisville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. RE/MAX Elevate along with RE/MAX of Boulder are giving back to the community by co-sponsoring the Louisville Downtown Street Faire on Friday nights thoughout the summer.

Jenni Hlawatsch, owner of The Singing Cook, the business next door to RE/MAX Elevate where she continues to be a neighbor, is looking ahead as she welcomes the new office. She says, “While I’ll miss my Book Cellar neighbors, I look forward to the new business relationship with Jay and the RE/MAX Elevate team who are eager to support and get involved in all the goings on in downtown Louisville.”

“We’re delighted to welcome RE/MAX Elevate to downtown Louisville,” says Louisville Mayor Bob Muckle. “Their contributions to the local economy and strong tradition of community involvement will be a win for us all.”

RE/MAX Elevate is a member of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce and the Louisville Downtown Business Association.

RE/MAX Elevate, 724 Main St., Louisville; 303.974.5005; elevatedrealestate.com. Hours are: M-F 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM; Sa/Sun 11:00 AM-4:00 PM

By Darren Thornberry, At Home
Photos by Jonathan Castner and Flatirons Pro Media

 

Originally Posted by RE/MAX of Boulder

 

Posted on May 3, 2019 at 12:00 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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Gifts and Volunteer Elves Bring Magic to Boulder County Families

More than 650 Boulder County families with children who might have been overlooked can feel cheer this holiday season, thanks to the power of giving Share-A-Gift makes possible.

Now in its 47th holiday season, each year Share-A-Gift helps connect community donations with hundreds of families, representing approximately 1,500 girls and boys from birth to age 14 years. The donations are collected with the help of businesses, citizens, and volunteers who give toys, money, and time to bring holiday magic to every family who lives in the Boulder County School District. Gifts include new and gently used bikes, toys, books, and clothing.

RE/MAX of Boulder is one of the businesses, which has proudly supported Share-A-Gift for more than 20 years. The Realtors at RE/MAX of Boulder encourage staff, clients, and friends to drop-off donated presents to the lobby of their main office at 2425 Canyon Boulevard. Many of the presents are donated from RE/MAX of Boulder’s Patrick Dolan Team and his clients.

RE/MAX of Boulder volunteers help gather the generously donated toys and take them to the Share-A-Gift Toy Shoppe. They work alongside the army of Toy Shoppe volunteers to ensure each family finds appropriate gifts for their children.

RE/MAX of Boulder Realtors including Patrick Dolan and his team have been gathering gifts from clients, friends, and staff to donate to Share-A-Gift. This incredible nonprofit brings holiday magic to Boulder County families in need. RE/MAX of Boulder and Patrick Dolan have been supporters for 20+ years.

This year, RE/MAX of Boulder volunteers included Managing Broker and Share-A-Gift Board Member Todd Gullette, and Realtors Patrick Dolan, Lisa Wade, and Timmy Duggan.

 

“For those less fortunate, this can be the hardest time of year,” Managing Broker Todd Gullette says.

With years of Share-A-Gift volunteering in his background, he knows the meaningful value the program brings to the community.

“Share-a-Gift does an amazing job of empowering parents and relieving some of the stress the holidays can bring. We would love to thank the hundreds of you who come out each year to help us create such a loving and caring event,” adds Gullette.

The hundreds of “Santa Helpers” who come together to create and share in the joy of giving include community members from all walks of life, the city of Boulder police department, schools, clubs, and organizations.

Volunteers work where help is needed, sometimes applying their special skills to make a difference. RE/MAX of Boulder Realtor Timmy Duggan – a former pro-bike racer and Olympic cyclist – found good use for his bike knowledge in the Share-A-Gift bike repair shop, getting bikes tuned up and ready to ride.

The volunteer elf work performed by community members adds up to thousands of hours, which any community would be proud of. Most importantly, sharing of time and resources gives families and children in need a chance to feel the magic of the season.

For more information visit shareagift.org.

Volunteers like REMAX of Boulder Realtor Timmy Duggan tunes up bikes of all sizes ready to ride at Share-A-Gift’s bike repair shop.

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 at 1:24pm.

Posted on December 21, 2018 at 11:01 pm
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Bike to Work Day Spotlights Boulder’s Commuting Options

Transportation and housing go hand in hand as critical components of infrastructure and quality of life. In Boulder, citywide enthusiasm for biking and alternative transportation came into sharp focus on the 42nd annual Bike to Work Day held June 27. Beginning at 6:30 a.m., thousands took to their pedal-powered wheels – or simply their feet – to go from home to work. In strong support, local companies and organizations hosted nearly 50 breakfast stations, keeping Boulder riders and walkers well fueled on their morning commute.

At the corner of Canyon Boulevard and Folsom, commuters were energized at such a station. Sponsored by RE/MAX of Boulder with Embassy Suites Boulder and Hilton Garden Inn, they treated riders to a hydrating Skratch Labs drink, refueling snacks, and giveaways. The station was manned by RE/MAX of Boulder Realtors with deep cycling roots including Art Schwadron along with biking enthusiast Chip Bruss, both of whom rode 150 miles in two days during Colorado’s Bike MS event to support multiple sclerosis research.

It’s only natural that Boulder’s Bike to Work Day is one of the largest nationwide. Presented by the City of Boulder, GO Boulder, Community Cycles, and a long list of corporate sponsors, Boulder Walk and Bike Day has grown into a month-long celebration of walking and biking highlighted by more than 60 free walks, bike rides, and other events.

The activities aim to encourage people to change their transportation behavior by experiencing Boulder’s 300+ miles of award-winning bike trails. It’s these multimodal corridors that elevate Boulder’s alternative transportation culture. Boulder was ranked #3 Bike-Friendly City by PeopleForBikes in 2018.

GO Boulder – part of Boulder’s transportation department – is focused on enhancing the city’s multi-modal transportation system and reducing single-car usage. The goal is to increase the travel choices available and create an innovative transportation system that sustains the quality of life valued by Boulder residents.

But bikers and walkers who share the road with cars can be at risk of harm. That’s why the City of Boulder developed its Vision Zero program. Vision Zero focuses on making other-than-car transportation safer by reducing the number of traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries to zero. Program components include targeted improvements to street design, enforcement, and outreach efforts in places where they are needed most.

Bike to Work Day 2018 has come and gone, but in Boulder, every day is a great day to commute by a means other than car. Get more information on alternatives and bike paths and get out there!

For more information, visit https://bouldercolorado.gov/goboulder and http://www.walkandbikemonth.org/

 

Originally posted here by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, July 13th, 2018 at 10:18am.

 

Posted on July 15, 2018 at 7:02 pm
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