What Makes a Smart City Smart?

Boulder is known for its highly educated, technology-oriented citizenry. The city is even ranked No. 1 nationally in the “Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index,” which tracks business formation as well as employment and education in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

But does that make Boulder a smart city? Not according to Colorado Smart Cities Alliance (CSCA). CSCA might summarize a smart city as an environment that works well for the people who live in it.

Specifically, CSCA defines a smart city “as an environment that enables all of us to effectively and efficiently live, work, and play. It leverages advancements in science and technology to create an area that is intelligent about strategic and tactical needs and wants of all the constituents.”

Boulder, Longmont, and Fort Collins are among a dozen cities along the Front Range that are founding members of the CSCA. Founded in 2017 by the Denver South Economic Development, CSCA is an open, collaborative, and active platform where stakeholders work to collaborate on continually improving the region’s economic foundations for future generations. The initiative aims to make Colorado a leader in the development of intelligent infrastructure. The goal is to accelerate the development of statewide Smart City initiatives that will improve our play, family, and work lives, from transportation and housing to public safety and the environment.

In ColoradoBiz Magazine, DesignThinkingDenver’s CEO Joe Hark Harold says, smart cities could design systems that save water and energy, reduce traffic and traffic congestion, lessen crime, better prepare for disasters, provide better connections between business and customers, and even manage the lights remotely.

There is urgency behind this movement, driven by an increase of those who live in urban environments. More than three million additional people are expected to move to Colorado by 2050 — an increase of more than 50 percent from 2015, according to the Colorado State Demography Office. Coupled with the growth the state has already experienced, the projected increase has spurred community leaders to collaborate on finding innovative, cost-effective ways to better monitor, manage, and improve infrastructure and public services.

“The Colorado Smart Cities Alliance is advancing policies and technologies that will better equip Colorado residents to live, work, and play in a future that is increasingly being shaped by the complex challenges of urban growth,” says Jake Rishavy, vice president of innovation at the Denver South Economic Development Partnership. “We’re working to create a 21st-century technology infrastructure right here in Colorado that will help to enhance everyone’s quality of life, particularly as our communities continue to grow.”

Among its activities, CSCA hosts regular “Civic Labs” events around the state to share challenges, expertise and solutions. At the Denver Smart City Forum in June, speakers described “smart” technology as having to be about the people who use it and benefit from it, that is, human-centered design and thinking.

“People, not technology, will create smart cities,” said Colorado’s Chief Innovation Officer Erik Mitisek.

To find out more and get involved in the Colorado Smart Cities Alliance, visit http://coloradosmart.city/

For more about the recent forum and DesignThinkingDenver, read http://www.cobizmag.com/Trends/Smart-Cities-Arent/ and http://www.cobizmag.com/Trends/Denver-Digs-Deep-on-Smart-City-Development-and-Implementation/

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, September 26th, 2018 at 11:31am.

Posted on October 6, 2018 at 8:09 am
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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.”

 

Posted 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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Boulder Rent Prices Decline

The usual story of ever-rising Boulder rents took a new turn this month. Data for August 2018 shows Boulder rents fell slightly by 0.1 percent last month and by 0.1 percent year-over-year, according to the latest report from rental site Apartment List.

That translates into median apartment rent of $1,150 for a one-bedroom and $1,410 for two-bedrooms. But even with the minor dip, Boulder’s median two-bedroom rent is above the national average of $1,180.

Nationwide rental rates went up about 1.5 percent, which the report found is down from a high of 3.6 percent in 2015.

Compared to the state and nation, Boulder’s rental price growth is below average. The city lags the state average of 0.4 percent rent growth year-over-year.

Rent also decreased in Colorado’s City of Aurora with a reduction of 0.8 percent year-over-year. A two-bedroom apartment in Aurora rents for $1,560.

But statewide, rental prices continue to trend upward. Colorado’s rental prices rose 0.4 percent over the past year. Eight of Colorado’s ten largest cities show rising rents.

Loveland, Thornton, and Westminster all have year-over-year growth above the state average with rent increases of 2.8 percent, 2.6 percent, and 1.9 percent, respectively.

Thornton is the most expensive of all Colorado’s major cities with a median two-bedroom rent of $1,860.

Many cities nationwide saw increases, including Phoenix, Atlanta, and San Francisco, rising 2.5, 1.5 and 1.1 percent, respectively.

Orlando has the fastest rent growth in the nation with an increase of 5.3 percent over last year. Second in the nation is Riverside, CA with 4.1 percent year-over-year growth, followed in third place by Anaheim at 3.6 percent.

The state of Nevada leads the country for the fastest rent growth at 3 percent, followed by Arizona at 2.2 percent.

Apartment List determines rent standings using reliable median rent statistics from the Census Bureau and extrapolates forward to the current month using a growth rate calculated from Apartment List listing data.

You can read the full report at https://www.apartmentlist.com/co/boulder#rent-report, see the national rental statistics at https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/national-rent-data/. If you want to know where rents are growing fastest, visit https://www.apartmentlist.com/rentonomics/rents-growing-fastest/.

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Monday, September 17th, 2018 at 2:39pm.

Posted on September 24, 2018 at 7:50 pm
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Boulder Performs Well Among Top Innovation Cities

Boulder stands tall when compared with much larger metropolitan areas that excel in innovation and entrepreneurship.

A report produced by the Boulder Economic Council compares Boulder with leading innovation centers including Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Raleigh.  Though these metropolitan areas have a much larger population than Boulder, they were selected as peer communities following input from local focus groups and ranking reviews published by Inc., Forbes, and others.

To get a meaningful comparison, data was normalized for population size and other measures in analysis by CU-Boulder’s Leeds School of Business Research Division.

And the news is good, according to findings published in the Boulder Innovation Venture Report. Boulder compares favorably in key success metrics from education and jobs to quality of life. The area is challenged, however, by a lack of affordable housing to supply its workforce with a place to live.

The Boulder metro area ranks first among the peer communities for the percentage of population 25 and up who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 60 percent of residents have a bachelor’s degree, which is among the highest in the United States.

In the jobs ranking, the City of Boulder has about 100,000 jobs, a number two or three times larger than almost any other U.S. city comparable in population size. Among those jobs, Boulder has the second highest concentration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations among all the peer regions.

Boulder has the second-highest per capita venture capital investment in comparison to the peer communities.

In fact, Boulder is ranked number one nationally in the “Bloomberg Brain Concentration Index,” which tracks business formation as well as employment and education in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Drilling down into the creative services industry – advertising agencies and web and app developers – outdoor recreation and food manufacturing, Boulder’s concentration of local businesses was significantly higher than peer communities.

Even in coffee shops the Boulder area percolates, achieving a tie with the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro for the highest concentration of coffee shops among peer communities. Boulder outranked all the peer cities on restaurants per 1,000 residents.

While any amount of time stuck in traffic is too much, Boulder drivers spend less than all but one of the peer communities with 10 percent of total driving time in congestion. Boston drivers spend the most time driving in congestion.

The challenge for Boulder is housing affordability, according to the report. Measured by median metro area home values, Boulder has the third highest housing costs among its peer communities, behind the San Jose and San Francisco regions and just ahead of Seattle and Boston. But the city is not alone – its peer communities face the same challenge. All but one of the metro areas studied for this report ranked among the 25 most expensive housing markets in the U.S.

For the full Boulder Innovation Venture Report, visit: http://issuu.com/boulderchamber/docs/innovation_venture_report_v26?e=33607933/61913820

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, September 11th, 2018 at 3:05pm.

Posted on September 17, 2018 at 6:58 pm
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Boulder Valley housing holds strong amidst July pullback

Boulder-area housing continues to reach new heights, shrugging off a pullback in July sales.

“Prices in Boulder Valley are at an all-time high in both single-family and attached homes. Also inventory challenges are ongoing. Despite both of those realities, housing demand is absolutely holding,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area REALTOR® Association.

The City of Boulder July average sales price reached more than $1.3 million – a 15.4 percent increase for the year. Median price hit $984,648. While Boulder’s prices are the highest, every area in Boulder County saw an increase in average sales price ranging from 3.5 percent in Superior to 17.7 percent in Niwot year-to-date.

However, July sales slowed from the previous month, following the typical late summer pattern of a month-over-month slowdown. Sales declined for single-family and attached homes in July compared to June, 2018. Single-family home sales in the Boulder-area markets dropped 16 percent—418 vs. 498 units—while condominium and townhome sales fell 32.8 percent—127 units vs. 189.

Hotard says this year’s July slowdown is a little more pronounced than last year.

Even so, year-to-date single-family home sales were virtually unchanged with a 1.0 percent increase compared to the prior year with 2,666 homes sold compared to 2,639. Attached home sales over the same period improved 5.8 percent; 914 vs. 864 units sold.

Inventory held its own. There was essentially no change in single-family home inventory levels, which rose .8 percent across Boulder County in July compared to June, 2018 with 1,013 vs. 1,004 homes available for sale. Condo/townhome inventory grew 1.3 percent in July compared to the previous month with 241 units for sale vs. 238.

Hotard notes there is potentially downward pressure on the market with interest rates trending upward and prices rising faster than wages in the area.

“But with demand as it is, we’re just going to keep moving forward,” he says.

Hotard adds that real estate is a “dynamic industry and Realtors are responding to the challenges by continuing to advise their clients on successful strategies for selling and purchasing homes.”

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Monday, August 27th, 2018 at 2:45pm.

 

Posted on August 28, 2018 at 4:28 pm
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Boulder County Housing Market Percolates Through June Heat

Market demand continues to be strong for Boulder County residential real estate with continued improvements for June sales compared to May.

“Sales were strong through June. It’s a lively market, but certainly not overheated,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

Single-family home sales in Boulder County improved 2.3 percent in June 2018 compared to May 2018 – 498 vs. 487 units – while townhome/condominium sales jumped 31.3 percent – 189 units sold vs. 144.

Year-to-date sales show ongoing growth with single-family home sales rising 2.4 percent through June compared to the prior year – 2,218 vs. 2,166 units – and condo and townhome sales improving 6.6 percent year-over-year – 776 units sold compared to 728.

Inventory is holding steady, which typically correlates with strong sales. Single-family homes for sale increased 9.4 percent – 1,004 homes for sale in June compared to 918 in May. Condo/townhomes inventory rose 14.4 percent over the same period, making 238 units available for sale vs. 208 in May.

Prices are one indication of market temperature. So far, 2018 has seen average and median sales prices continue to rise year-over-year, with all Boulder Valley markets showing improvement in the single-family category for June. Condos/townhomes also showed improvement in both median and average sale prices in every community except statistics for Louisville, Niwot and the Mountains.

Hotard notes that typically “July has a pullback in sales, due to summer vacation schedules and the anticipation of school starting.”

“Market demand is impressive and prices are holding up,” he says. “Single-family homes average selling price has been over a million for months now and shows no signs of cooling off.”

 

Originally posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 at 1:34pm.
Posted on August 15, 2018 at 7:26 pm
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Colorado Ranks High for Job Seekers

If you feel like you live in a great state for your career, it’s official: you are absolutely correct. Among all 50 states, Colorado is the second best state for finding a job, according to analysis by WalletHub.

The only state where job seekers fare better is Washington, with a total WalletHub score of 71.45 compared to Colorado’s 70.04.

But in “Job Market Rank,” Colorado pulled the top position at No. 1, followed by Utah, Maryland and Minnesota. Washington came in at No. 7.

Total score of most attractive states for employment was determined by WalletHub’s comparison of 50 states across 29 key indicators of job-market strength, opportunity and a healthy economy. The two key dimensions were Job Market and Economic Environment. Job Market was weighted more heavily since the factors in that category most heavily influence a job seeker’s decision in terms of relocation for employment.

Here’s how Colorado ranked in key categories.

In ‘Economic Rank’ Colorado is No. 19. Economic Rank evaluates the economic environment based on indicators such as median annual income (adjusted by the cost of living), monthly average starting salary, share of workers living under poverty line, average length of work week, average commute time and commuter-friendly jobs.

At the city level, Aurora led Colorado as the top place to find a job, ranking No. 33 in the U.S. Denver followed at No. 35 and Colorado Springs No. 68. The top cities in ‘Job Market Rank’ are Peoria, AZ; San Francisco, CA; Chandler, AZ; Gilbert, AZ; and Scottsdale, AZ, ranking 1-5 respectively.

In April, Colorado’s state unemployment rate fell by a tenth of a point to 2.9 percent and Colorado employers added 7,200 non-farm jobs to their payrolls, according to a monthly update from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Nationally, the unemployment rate in April stood at 3.9 percent.

Average hourly earnings rose from $27.73 an hour to $28.91 over the past year. The average workweek remains unchanged at 33.7 percent.

For the full listing of statistics on the states, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-best-economies/21697/. For cities, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-jobs/2173/.

Originally Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Friday, July 20th, 2018 at 10:09am.
Posted on August 8, 2018 at 7:08 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/

 

Posted 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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Boulder Housing Sales Seem Unstoppable

Boulder County housing sales in May rolled strong once again, demonstrated by sharp growth in the single-family home market and solid performance for attached dwellings.

“Gains in single-family home sales topped 40 percent – a really strong increase that was backed by inventory growth,” says Ken Hotard, senior vice president of public affairs for the Boulder Area Realtor® Association.

In fact, all categories of single-family homes surged, according to May 2018 statistics. Sales of single-family homes grew 41.2 percent in May 2018 compared to April, with 487 homes sold vs. 345. Year-to-date single-family home sales increased 5.6 percent year-to-date through May 2018 compared to the prior year – 1,708 vs. 1,618. And inventory countywide increased 19.1 percent month-over-month with 918 units for sale in May vs. 770 the prior month.

Condominium and townhome sales grew a solid 14.3 percent in May compared to April, represented by 144 units sold vs. 126. Year to date, growth was 23 percent – 594 units vs. 481. Inventory increased 27 percent in May compared to April, putting 208 dwellings in the May marketplace compared to 163 in April.

Hotard says prices moderated slightly in May. Single-family average and median sales prices dropped compared to the previous month. “The median in April was over $1 million, now it’s down to $985,000; and townhome/condos were in the $500,000’s last month and are now in the $450,000’s,” he adds.

The steadily increasing housing market is a sign of strong fundamentals – demand is strong, inventory tight and jobs plentiful. Currently, Boulder is the third largest job center in the state. “But with housing prices too high for the average worker and no new building in sight, we can expect to see jobs that would have located in Boulder County opt instead to land somewhere along I-25,” explains Hotard.

Looking forward, he says June data seems to be tracking solidly along with May.

“We should see a shift in the market as we get to the end of July. I expect it to slow down a bit, but we can expect much of the same.”

He adds that the number of days a home is on the market is short. “Any buyer in this market has to walk into house-hunting ready to buy with a knowledgeable realtor and financing lined up.”

 

Posted by Tom Kalinski Founder RE/MAX of Boulder on Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 at 11:03am.

Posted on June 30, 2018 at 11:51 am
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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

Posted 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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