Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Here's an investment formula to consider as you close the door on 2008 and ponder what became of your 401k in the last four months of the year.

Take a look at a four bedroom, two bath home in Arvada priced at $165,000 as a bank-owned "REO". Purchase it with 20% down - your cash out of pocket is $33,000 (we can often cover closing costs by negotiating for them with the bank).

With interest rates in the low 5's (let's say 5.5%), your 30-year fixed rate payment on a $132,000 loan is about $750.00 per month. Throw in $200 per month for taxes, another $100 for insurance, and another $150 for property management (assuming you choose to hire someone to do it for you), and your total payment is $1,200 per month. The taxes, insurance and property management costs are estimated on the high side, but we want to be conservative in our estimates.

Rent the home for $1,400 per month, and your annual cashflow is $2,400. On your original investment of $33,000, that's an annual "cash on cash" return of just over 7%, not counting your possible mortgage interest deduction, depreciation or principal paydown.

After five years, your "cash on cash" return is now 36% ($12,000 of cash flow on a $33,000 investment). Your principal has been paid down to $122,048 and we still haven't factored in the possible mortgage interest deduction or tax benefits of depreciation.

After 10 years, your cash flow (assuming you are a really nice landlord and never raise the rent) is $24,000. Your principal has been paid down to $108,954, giving you another $24,000 equity stake in the property.

Again, these numbers are for illustrative purposes only, but they demonstrate the point - when you can find real estate in good areas with cash flow potential from day one, your success is almost guaranteed.

Of course, with my investors, we aren't just looking for cash flow, we're looking for properties near light rail or mass transit lines or close to universities or near other locations that will always put the land at a premium. We're going to look at areas with high rental demand and stable neighborhoods. We're going to research our comps and strive to buy with equity going in, not hoping that future appreciation bails us out of a mediocre investment.

Seriously, there has not been a better rental market in Denver in at least 20 years. What are you waiting for? At the very least, you owe it to yourself to become educated. Because with a trillion dollar (or more) "Money Bomb" coming in the form of government spending initiatives, you had better have a strategy to keep up with inflation in the years ahead.

We are all entitled to our opinions, but I believe these interest rates in the 5's are an anomoly and temporary. Inflation (and the devaluing of US currency) is the fastest way out of this recession, and that's what I see happening.

If you would like to start receiving new foreclosure listings by email, just give me a call and I'll set you up with immediate access through my Home Scouting Report program.

The time to take control of your financial future is now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Colorado was the fifth-fastest growing state in the country last year, according to an article in the current issue of Forbes Magazine. Colorado added over 97,000 residents in the survey, moving up from eighth in last year's rankings.

Nevada, which has been battered by foreclosures and job losses, fell to eighth last year after being ranked in the top four for 23 consecutive years.

With new residential home construction essentially non-existent in the state, the addition of yet another 100,000 new residents should provide more spark to a recovering housing market - and more competition for an already scarce inventory of rental homes.

Utah, Wyoming and Idaho also ranked in the top ten states for growth, showing again that the mountain west region is alive and well, even in a down economy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


I gave a presentation this past Tuesday before members of the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. My speech was entitled "FIVE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED (OR RELEARNED) IN 2008". And while the reality is we all learned many things in 2008, here are a few of the lessons that stand out to me:


Quite simply, the philosophy I carry in my business is that every day, I am preparing myself for tomorrow. The truth is that people are going to buy and sell homes with or without me. It is my job to become a compelling product in the marketplace, offering skill, insights and experience that my outpaces my competition.


Jim Rohn says, "Don't wish that things were easier. Wish that you were better."

That's the challenge for all of us right now. Get better. Get stronger. Become more skilled at every aspect of your job. And while you're at it, recommit to strengthening personal relationships like never before.


To me, personal philosophy is as important as a good education. In other words, what you believe is at least as important as what you know. Often your beliefs are more important than your understandings. What you think about things - whether there is scarcity or abundance, whether there is loss or opportunity - is based on your philosophy.

And who you associate with plays a huge role in shaping your philosophy. The people in your life are like the weather... either sunny and pleasant, or cold and stormy. It's amazing to me how many people choose to live in a reality that is cold and stormy.


I have been beating on this theme for two years... quite simply, it's the best first-time buyer / investor market in 15 years.

Want a deal that cash flows? Call me! Want to pay less for a mortage than you do in rent? Call me! Need $7,500 to fix up a foreclosure and make it your dream home? Call me! Want a 30-year fixed rate below 6%? Call me!


There's a saying you'll hear around our household often, and it goes like this: "These are the good old days".

We've got our health. We've got our business. We've got friends and colleagues who are eager to refer us to their friends and colleagues. Our kids are doing well in school. Really, how much more do you need?

Yes, 2008 has been a challenging year. But I'd like to think that the end result is not of loss, but of gain... that we became better by leaning into the challenges that arose while others quit or left the business.

Don't with that things were easier. Wish that you were better.

And then make it so!

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Is this a sign of confidence? Or desperation?

You decide.

Certain builders in the Denver area are wooing buyers by offering to buy back properties if their values drop, according an article appearing this past Sunday in the Denver Post.

For instance, Celebrity Custom Homes is putting 10 percent of the purchase price of each home into an escrow account. If the home's value has dropped after three years, the buyer gets the money. If not, the builder keeps it.

Everest Development Co. is telling buyers that if they live in the property for three years and if at that point, its value has declined, they can choose to have Everest repurchase the home.

Byers Street Properties is offering to refund a percentage of the purchase price of any home equal to the decline in its value based on the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index.

The list of builders that have gone bankrupt (Village Homes, Neumann Homes), scaled back operations (McStain, Richmond American) or announced plans to leave the state (Centex, Beazer) is historic and remarkable.

Right now, there's one segment of our market that's robust - buyers looking at homes under $250,000 (and homes at that price point are generally not very profitable for builders).

Markets change... they always do. But I'd be careful with an offer like this, because if these homes do go down in value, will the builder even be around to take your call?

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Went to the Parade of Lights in Downtown Denver Saturday night with my wife and two daughters. What an event!

Joined by nearly 175,000 fellow Denver-ites on a positively balmy 55 degree December night, we watched floats, marching bands, dancers and giant character balloons make their way through the downtown district in a parade that lasted nearly 90 minutes.

(Sign of the times: Victoria, below on the left - and Elizabeth, perched atop the shoulders of a local real estate broker who shall remain nameless - had absolutely no frame of reference for Dennis the Menace when his character balloon passed by during the parade. In a related note, the Rocky Mountain News announced this week that it will be shutting down in January if a buyer can't be found for the struggling newspaper in the next 30 days.)

The best thing about the parade - it really made Denver feel like a community, with so many people from such diverse backgrounds joining together to celebrate the season.

The second best thing - watching THOUSANDS of people board light rail trains heading home after the event. (For the relevance of this, see my Fastracks POSTING from October 30)

The completion of Denver's light rail system is going to be huge economic winner for the region - and for property values along the newly added routes - as the final spokes of the grid come online over the next few years. It will also provide the infrastructure for events like last night's Parade of Lights to become even larger as our region becomes better connected.

Last night was a great night to be in Denver. Kudos to Mayor Hickenlooper, the city and the thousands of volunteers who put together a fabulous community event!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Foreclosures are down in Colorado by 14% in the first nine months of this year while national statistics show foreclosure filings throughout the country increasing by over 120%, according to a new report by the Colorado Division of Housing.

A total of 16,246 foreclosures have been completed in Colorado so far in 2008.

"2006 and 2007 saw big increases in filings of 30 to 40 percent," said Kathi Williams, director of the Colorado Division of Housing. 'There are still reasons for concern, but this is good news."

Denver County has shown the biggest drop in foreclosure filings this year, down 26 percent compared to the third quarter of 2007. Weld County foreclosures are down 20% and Adams County foreclosures are down 19%.

Increased pressure on lenders to work with troubled homeowners and massive funding commitments by the Federal Reserve to purchase mortgage loans from private lenders are also reducing the number of owners losing their homes.

Again, the story in our market right now is the massive disparity between the firey demand for homes under $250,000 and the ice cold condition of homes at higher price points.

Investors and first-time buyers continue to compete for well-priced entry level homes, while those with more exposure in the stock market (normally those at higher price points) are licking their wounds and pulling back.

Further government efforts to slow foreclosures figures to thin out our inventory even further in 2009.

Historically, the leading indicator for a housing market recovery is finding a "bottom" and then seeing entry-level prices begin to rise. While the nation's housing market remains very uncertain, the Denver Metro area appears to be on the backside of its troubles.

Friday, November 28, 2008


It's year-end, and that means there's a stack of bills on my desk.

Local Realtor Associations dues... State Realtor Assocation dues... National Association of Realtor (NAR) dues... annual CRS membership dues... my local Chamber of Commerce dues... annual RE/MAX affiliation dues... renewal of my database management program... my websites... my upgrades... the list is painful just to look at.

Selling real estate has never been cheap, and this year more than ever we are looking to find the value in the associations, affiliations and technology we employ.

I received a correspondence from NAR earlier this week, and it's good to see that one organization is fighting hard for its members and the principles which drive home ownership. NAR is launching a lobbying campaign outlining a four-point agenda to help free up capital in the credit markets and bring buyers back into the market.

Given NAR's long history of strong influence in Washington, I would not be surprised to see much of the NAR agenda enacted early in 2009.

Here's NAR's four-point plan to revive the housing market:
  1. Make the $7,500 first-time homebuyer tax credit available to all buyers and eliminate repayment requirements. The credit's limited availability and repayment requirement severely limit the credit's use and effectiveness.

  2. Make the 2008 FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac higher loan limits permanent. New rules for 2009 will reduce them. Now is not the time to limit mortgage affordability.

  3. Get the Treasury relief program back on track and target more funds to mortgage relief. Create a federal mortgage interest buy-down program to make below-market rates available and stabilize home prices.

  4. Permanently bar banks from engaging in real estate brokerage and management. The banks have proved they have enough to do to simply manage the loan process. Banks should not manage home sales and purchases.

From my perspective, the most important item on this list would be the first one, and that is to make the $7,500 first-time homebuyers tax credit permanent (or at least extend it beyond June 30, 2009) and eliminate the repayment requirement.

Right now, first time buyers are essentially being offer a $7,500 interest-free loan by the federal governement, with a lump sum disbursement up front which is then recaptured over 15 years at the rate of $500 per year.

This tax credit has been a powerful tool for my foreclosure buyers, allowing them to budget for appliances, paint, carpet and basic repairs. Making the tax credit a permanent fixture (with no recapture clause) would be a strong incentive for many buyers to get back into the market.

I do believe help is on the way for the housing market, above and beyond the shift in government policy on Tuesday that resulted in the biggest one-day interest rate drop in seven years.

Buying a home will continue to be incentivized in 2009, in my opinion, which will bring more buyers back into the market. And with foreclosure inventory already tailing off significantly, "retail" (private party) sellers will stand a much better chance of being able to sell next year without having to compete with an exorbitant inventory of discounted, bank-owned homes.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


As the Federal Government continues to scramble in search of a formula to stabilize the markets and restore confidence in the economy, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced today that the government would be purchasing up to $600 billion in mortgage backed securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In response, interest rates on 30-year mortgages immediately fell by nearly 50 basis points, into the mid 5's. Those rates are the lowest I've seen in 14 years as a real estate broker.

For those who don't follow the mortgage markets closely, this announcement is in very interesting because the Treasury has basically shifted its policy away from buying debt (loans previously made) to buying mortgage-backed securities (loans to be made in the future).

In other words, the shift in thinking here is one that moves away from helping homeowners who are in foreclosure and instead focuses on helping future homebuyers (as well as those with enough equity to refinanace into a conventional mortgage).

Interesting, dramatic events.

The trick now is to see if the Treasure Department will actually FOLLOW THROUGH on this announcement, given the abrupt changes in policy and philosophy we have seen over the past 90 days.

Good news if you're a buyer or looking to refinance. But if the events of the past few months have taught us anything, it's that these rates won't be around for long. The best deals are only there for those willing to take action, and with the inventory of homes on the market already 20% below where it was one year ago, these lower rates only figure to spark more competition for foreclosures and well-priced entry level homes.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Apparently Adams County residents don't have to travel far to find an ideal place to hibernate during the economic downswing - according to, their own backyard will suffice.

On Nov. 12, the business magazine's Web site published the top 10 counties nationwide to "weather the downturn" based on affordability, job growth and proximity to a major metropolitan area. Adams County placed third on the list that included counties in Arkansas, Ohio, South Carolina, Louisiana, Iowa, Alabama, Texas and Kansas.

The story cited Adams County's 3.4 percent job growth year-over-year, a "diversified" economy, which includes aerospace, aviation and bioscience jobs, low property taxes and inexpensive housing as the reasons why the county was chosen.

Positive publicity is always welcomed, although getting lauded as a desirable place to live when unemployed or in financial turmoil isn't exactly comforting news for people in distress. But if that's the reality of the moment, then the news represents a very positive turn for Adams County, which for the past five years has been battered by foreclosures and falling home prices.

Forbes probably considered well-paying aerospace, aviation and bioscience jobs in nearby counties in addition to Adams County, which includes Brighton, Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn, Thornton, Aurora, Bennett, Westminster and a small section of Arvada.

Nearby Jefferson County also has the highest number of aerospace jobs in the Denver-metro area.

Other businesses that might have been factored in include wind turbine manufacturer Vestas, which recently announced its expansion to the Weld County part of Brighton, and will be hiring 1,400 people. Ascent Solar, a developer of thin-film photovoltaic materials, is moving its headquarters to Thornton.

As for the affordability factor, the average price of a house that sold in Adams County in 2007 was $175,000. I have worked with many investors and first-time buyers who have taken advantage of affordable housing prices and strong rental demand in Adams County, and I expect that trend to continue in 2009. Brighton East Farms, in particular, is one area where first-time buyers can buy "nearly new" homes for less than $200,000, with good schools, newer infrastructure and strong community roots.

That makes Adams County an extremely affordable - and attractive - place to live. The county is also adding more jobs than new housing units, which should put it on the leading edge of the state's housing market recovery.

To view the Forbes article in its entirety, click HERE.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Altos Research Group says that list prices in Denver are rising, one of only three markets that Altos tracks that are showing appreciation.

Denver list prices rose by 0.7% in October, edging out Houston (0.6%) and Dallas (0.3%) for the top spot in the Altos Survey.

At the other end of the spectrum, Las Vegas home prices fell by almost 4% in October alone, Detroit homes lost 2.1% of their value and Phoenix home prices fell by 2.0%.

If you have read this blog or spoken with me over the past few months, you know where this increase is coming from. The bottom of our market, which was so hard hit by foreclosures in 2005 and 2006, has turned the corner.

With prices in the range of $225k and under having fallen by as much as 25% over the past four years, it's now cheaper for many to own than to rent. Investors are scooping up cash-flowing rental properties and banks are seeing multiple offers on many of their foreclosure listings.

In response, there has been a definite adjustment upward in REO pricing. There are also a lot fewer foreclosures on the market today than six months ago.

For example, in Arvada, there are currently eight single-family detached REO properties priced below $150,000 on the market. Eight.

This summer, I was showing as many as six to ten new listings a week in this price range. The foreclosure pipeline has just slowed to a drip.

If you're thinking about buying a foreclosure property, don't be discouraged. The deals are still out there... but they are harder to find.

You need to be working with someone who is in this market every day, so that when a well-priced home in good condition comes on the market, you see it immediately.

Many agents will tell you all the deals are gone. That's not true. They are simply going to the agents who get their first, who know what they're looking at, and who have prepared their clients to take action when the right deal comes along.

I'll put it this way - if you're not working with someone who understands what's happening, you're not going to get the result you're looking for.

Keep the faith - the deals are out there. And we're getting them.

Friday, November 14, 2008


What a week it's been in the markets... we certainly are living through historic times.

While I cannot tell you what the stock market is going to do next (or the Federal Government, for that matter), I can tell you what's happening in the Denver real estate market.

Here's the short summary:

The low end of the market, up to $250k, continues to sizzle. As of this morning, the absorption rate for homes in this price range is just 3.69 months, meaning that if no new homes were to come on the market the existing inventory of homes in this price range would be completely extinguished in less than four months.

Of course, most of this activity is driven by foreclosures. Over 80% of all Colorado foreclosures have been at price points of $240,000 or below. This is where values have fallen the most, this is where most of the bargains are and this is where investors and first-time buyers are still crawling over each other to find and purchase bargains.

The bottom of the market remains HOT!

The middle of the market, from $250 - $400k, is doing okay, but it's slowing. Market time has increased to nearly 10 months over the past 30 days... this is where we begin to see the impact of the massive stock market / 401k losses that have affected so many.

From $400 - $600k, things are really slowing. The inventory of homes in this price range has surged to 21 months over the past 30 days, an increase of nine months market time in just 30 days. People in this bracket are not buying homes right now. Sellers need to realize this and decide if they really need to sell. If you do, cut your price. If you don't, pull your home off the market and save yourself the frustration.

Above $600,000, it's just plain dead.

There's no denying the stock market and global financial drama of the past few weeks has paralyzed buyers in our market and throughout the country, except at the lowest price points, where demand remains exceptionally strong.

My take on this is that, while everyone needs a home, not everyone needs a $600,000 home. Builders are telling us that "small is the new big", and that going forward, most builders are shifting their focus to smaller, more affordable, "greener" homes.

These are dramatic changes going on, and it really pays to study the nuances of what is happening in this market. There are great opportunities to be had, but there are also mistakes that will be made, and this is no time to be guessing your way through a very choppy and segmented market.

If you would like me to email you my latest chart showing activity in all price ranges of the Denver MLS, simply drop me a note and I'll be glad to get the data right out to you.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Just completed my CRS coursework requirements for 2008, and like so much of what we learn in the CRS program, the concept of Ninja Selling is worth talking about.

The Ninja Selling philosophy originated with The Group, Inc., a Fort Collins-based real estate company that has been studied nationally for years because based of the incredible productivity of its agents.

The Ninja Selling philosophy is based on efficiency, service and focus.

What this means in real life is that -

While the industry says…

the customer is a unit…
the market is based on competition…
agents should focus on personal promotion…
it’s better to get more…
the goal is fame and fortune…

The Ninja says…

the customer is to be served…
the market is based on cooperation…
agents should focus on personal service…
it’s better to become more…
the goal is happiness, satisfied clients and an endless stream of quality referrals...

I have long said that philosophy is 50% (or more) of all education. The Ninja Philosophy fits beautifully with my referral-based business model and it speaks to what I want my business to look like.

My business has always been about relationships first, and transactions second. Forming and building strong, long-term relationships is the only model that guarantees long-term success in any business. Ninja Selling is a proven long-term approach to quality relationships, quality transactions and a quality life.

Friday, November 7, 2008


Interesting article this morning in Inman News about the return of smaller homes.

Yes, what’s old is new again. Frugality is in. McMansions are out.

The author in the article cites a 1998 book by Sarah Susanka called “The Not So Big House” which appears to have been ahead of its time. Now that the national economy is causing a lot of folks to rethink their economic priorities, there is a surge in “small building” that has not been seen in decades.

Not only are small homes cheaper to build and more affordable to maintain, they are friendlier on the environment as well. Smaller mortgages obviously give families more financial flexibility, and in theory, a less stressful financial existence.

The size of one’s home is obviously a personal decision, but it’s interesting to watch builders and home buyers react to new economic realities.

What do you think? To preview Chapter One of “The Not So Big House”, click HERE.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Here's yet another item suggesting that we are going to continue to see fewer and fewer foreclosures on the market here in Colorado.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. on Friday announced a loan modification plan that will help as many as 400,000 customers avoid foreclosure. JPMorgan, which has already modified about $40 billion in loans, will not put any loans into foreclosure as it expands its program over the next 90 days.

JP Morgan follows the lead of Bank of America, which has said that starting December 1, it will modify an estimated 400,000 loans held by newly acquired Countrywide Financial Corp. The plan is driven by an $8.4 billion class action settlement.

According to the Rocky Mountain News, there were 4,406 foreclosure filings in the third quarter of 2008 in the Denver Metro area, compared with 5,840 in the third quarter of 2007. That's a 24.5% drop.

The overall inventory of homes on the market in the Denver MLS has fallen over 20% from one year ago.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


We stay out of politics on this blog, except when they have a direct impact on real estate.

While I won’t be voting for either of the two major party candidates (I'm more of an obscure third party kind of guy), I will say that there has been way too much turbulence leading up to the election as both major party candidates have floated all kinds of proposals aimed at trying to “fix” the housing and stock market mess.

By offering what seems to be a new plan every week to slow foreclosures and restore confidence in the markets, I believe both major party candidates have created more fear and destabilized the situation even further.

That’s politics, I guess.

The good news is that, after Tuesday, at least we’ll have a better idea of what we’re getting. And hopefully whoever wins will settle on a message and actually stick with it for a while.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


My colleague Lon Welsh points out that homes located within two miles of the T-Rex (southeast) light rail line have appreciated at 4% on average over the past two years, while the overall market has struggled to hold values and many outlying areas have lost value.

The expansion of Denver's light rail system over the next few years is a subject investor clients ask me about all the time. The build out of our light rail system will eventually include nine "spokes" coming out of Union Station in Denver, with lines running up US-36, north into Broomfield, northeast into Thornton, east to DIA, south to Aurora and Castle Rock, southwest to Littleton, west to Golden and an 11.2 mile corridor from Union Station to Ward Road in west Arvada.

Easy transportation to downtown jobs, museums and sports venues will greatly improve quality of life for residents in outlying areas over the next 10 years. And this will be reflected in home prices.

To see a map of all current and proposed light rail lines, click HERE

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


If you have friends or relatives traveling over the holidays to visit a family member or loved one in a hospital or nursing home, Tharaldson Hotels has a promotion you should know about.

Tharaldson’s ROOM AT THE INN program offers a free night’s lodging on Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve to anyone traveling to visit a sick friend or relative.

Tharaldson Hotels is one of the largest hotel management companies in America, which properties in 22 states and locations in the Denver Metro area including the Westminster Residence Inn, the Westminster Hampton Inn, and Marriott properties in Greeley and Colorado Springs.

In an era where everyone is talking about corporate greed and an erosion of values, it’s nice to see a major corporation reach out. To learn more about the ROOM AT THE INN program, click HERE or give me a call and I’ll be happy to provide you with the details.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


For those of you looking for the State Farm Home Inventory Checklist I referenced in my most recent "snail mail" correspondence, here it is...

With these cooler fall days keeping more folks inside, now is a great time to take a few hours to itemize (and video) your belongings. Remember, when it comes to home insurance claims, if you can't document it, it's hard to prove it.

And if you're looking for a great referral for your homeowner's or landlord's insurance policy, drop me a line and I'll be happy to pass along a terrific referral.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


One of the many daily newsletters I subscribe to online is 5280's Daily News Roundup. Here's a "quick hitter" from today's report...

Not Bad: The Denver Real Estate Market

As Wall Street's mortgage woes ripple across the country, Denver appears to be doing relatively well. In fact, the Mile-High City is among places to watch, according to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2009 report by the Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is the "oldest, most highly regarded annual industry outlook" for real estate, according to MarketWatch .

Federal government offices will buffer job losses. Population growth and diversifying industries will keep housing stable. "Mass transit should pay future dividends," according to the report, which foresees a harsh couple of years ahead nationally. The Denver Business Journal notes Seattle and San Francisco are the top two cities to watch, as the industry otherwise struggles with property owners "drowning in debt" and lenders not lending.

The best part of the Denver market seems to be the little guys. Homes in the $50,000 to $250,000 price range are going quick, according to The Denver Post.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Yesterday I posted an item related to the relative affordability of living in Denver compared to other major cities... and as I was continuing to think about that, I discovered a very interesting study on last night that really illustrates the point.

This chart is key to understanding what's going on with the national housing market, and why cities like San Diego, Miami and Phoenix are in freefall. The numbers shown for each city are the percentage of household income it takes to make payments on a median priced home with a 20% down payments and a 30-year fixed rate loan.

With "traditional" mortgage underwriting, ratios of 28 and 36 are the standard. That means one's housing payment should not exceed 28% of income, while payments on all installment debts (housing, car, student loans, etc) should not exceed 36%.

Note that Denver's payment to income ratio is 21.7%, while Los Angeles is 63.5%, New York is 56.5% and San Diego is 51.8%. Any wonder why those markets are out of gas?

1) Los Angels 63.5%
2) San Francisco 58.2%
3) New York, 56.5%
4) San Jose, CA 55.0%
5) Orange County, CA 54.3%
6) Honolulu 53.9%
7) San Diego 51.8%
8) Miami 46.8%
9) Riverside, CA 38.8%
10) Newark, NJ 33.7%

Now let's look at a statistic called "mortgage to rent ratio". This statistic shows the ratio of the mortgage payment on a median-priced single family home (again assuming 20% and a 30-year fixed rate loan) to the local median rent for a three bedroom single-family home.

According to, Denver's ratio is 1.00, meaning that mortgage payments on a median-priced home are exactly equal to median rent for a three bedroom single-family home.

Now let's match that up with other notable cities:

Seattle: 1.55... or owning a home is 55% more expensive than renting
Portland: 1.36... or owning a home is 36% more expensive than renting
Chicago: 1.27... or owning a home is 27% more expensive than renting

Of course, many of the cities on the first chart in this post (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, etc) have ratios that are even more out of line (1.60 or higher) - and this illustrates the clear lack of affordability in these markets.

Interesting stuff... but one of the reasons our market has upside and is insulated to some extent from the corrections going on elsewhere.

One last note - this analysis does not take into account the tax benefits associated with home ownership, which are substantial, especially for landlords.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Money goes further some places in the United States than it does in others.

Housing, in particular, has remained most affordable in the South and the Midwest. That’s because of less stringent building, an abundance of land and growing populations in the South, says Daniel McCue, a research analyst at Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

To determine the cities that offer the best quality of life for the least amount of money, Forbes magazine calculated the ratios between a city’s median home price and its median household income. It also factored in projected job growth. And it compared median income to Moody’s’s cost of living index.

Here are the 10 cities that it found to offer the best value, and the cities that it believes offers the worst value.

Cities Where Residents Get the Most for Their Money
1. Austin, Texas
2. San Antonio, Texas
3. Indianapolis, Ind.
4. Houston, Texas
5. Charlotte, N.C.
6. Columbus, Ohio
7. Dallas
8. Minneapolis/St. Paul
9. Denver
10. Portland, Ore.

Cities Where Residents Get the Least for Their Money
1. Los Angeles
2. Providence, R.I.
3. New Orleans
4. Philadelphia
5. Cleveland
6. New York
7. Milwaukee, Wisc.
8. St. Louis, Mo.
9. Washington, D.C.
10. Sacramento, Calif.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I have important information for investors and first-time buyers interested in owning a single family home in Adams County.

For the past 15 years, the Adams County Housing Authority has owned and maintained an inventory of three bedroom, one-and-two bath single family homes as Section 8 rental properties.

Under a provision of the federal housing bill signed by the President in July, the Adams County Housing Authority has a limited-time opportunity to receive federal grant money for the purchase of multi-family properties, which may be a better solution long-term to helping lower income residents find a decent place to live.

The upshot: the Adams County Housing Authority has made the decision to liquidate its inventory of single family homes by selling them quickly, and at a discount.

There are 23 total homes being offered this month... eight have already come on the market, and four of those are already under contract. The remaining 15 homes are being released as fast as the county can finish the rehab work. Prices on these home range from less than $80,000 to the mid $100s. (All will cashflow nicely)

While the Housing Authority has said they will give preference to first-time buyers, I have already lost one of these homes to an investor when I was representing a first-time buyer who actually made a higher offer than the investor, but in the end I think the Housing Authority is looking for the most committed, most qualified buyers so they can move these homes and get their federal grant money.

These homes are being listed at an average of 66.57% of their assessed value, based on the first group of homes to hit the market.

While the assessed values are probably high, these are terrific deals nonetheless because they are priced like foreclosures but with rehab and maintenance completed, and a credible seller on the other side of the deal.

If you have any investor clients interested in more information, please call me with names and numbers so I can get in touch with people quickly. Very few agents have any idea this is going on and these homes will be gone within a few weeks.

This is a very brief window of opportunity based on a one-time liquidation of housing inventory. I'd love to be able to help you or anyone you know take advantage of this unique situation.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


If you have spent any time on this blog or with me in person over the past six months, there's no doubt you have heard this message: this is the best market for investors and first-time buyers in 15 years.

It's not just spin - it's a fact.

The inventory of homes under $250,000 is shrinking faster than any other segment of the Denver market, and we are seeing fewer foreclosures now than any time in the past few years. The number of homes on the market is down over 21% from one year ago.

The absorption rate for all homes - foreclosures and private sales alike - at price points below $250,000 is less than four months. For homes above $1 million, it's nearly 60 months! There is obvious value in the bottom of our market for buyers today.

Here's a rhetorical quesiton: do markets change, or do they stay the same forever?

Obviously, they change. And they are changing. We lose opportunities only when they are taken by others. And right now, there are lots of people who are fearlessly snapping up the deals I see everyday.

Here are some compelling reasons why NOW is the time to get off the fence if you a first-time buyer:

-- FTBs are buying homes today that don’t have inflated equity...
-- FTBs don’t have to wait for their home to sell…
-- FTBs have sellers willing to pay their closing costs and buy-down already low interest rates...

-- FTBs are finding in many cases that it's cheaper to own that to rent, and that's before considering the tax benefits of home ownership...
-- FTBs are in the first true "buyers market" in nearly eight years.
-- FTBs still buy a home with 3% down, a job, and reasonable (not perfect) credit through FHA...
-- FTBs who purchase a home by July 9, 2009 are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit...

-- FTBs who buy and close before December 31, 2008, will receive their cash credit as soon as they file their 2008 tax returns...
-- FTBs who buy before December 31, 2008, will still be able to buy a home with just 3% down using FHA financing (down payment requirement increases to 3.5% January 1, 2009)

If you would like to wait another 12 months... until the news gets better on the television and word somehow reaches the Denver Post... that's your right. My concern, however is that by waiting you will face higher prices, less inventory, higher interest rates and tighter qualifying guidelines. Plus that tax credit is a great tool to help with rehab and improvements.

Please keep in mind that our market is complex and what applies to first-time buyers may or may not apply to $400,000 move-up buyers. All markets are local... and every buyer or seller is an individual.

Give me a call and let's talk about what the market looks like for you...

Friday, October 3, 2008


The housing bill was signed by the President Friday, and I say it’s a good thing.

Not for the precedent it sets – nationalizing markets is not my thing.

But because the system had ground to a halt, for reasons I will be happy to explain if you want to get into it. We can talk about secondary markets and bad underwriting policies and how Washington Mutual made a tra-zillion dollars (at first) writing Option-Arm loans, great for the P&L in the short run until all the loans went bad.

The reason we needed this action at this time, in my opinion, is because the distress in the market at the moment is not cyclical.

When our housing decline started earlier this decade in Colorado, it was because of the economy. The tech bubble and 9/11 did us in, and the foreclosures here began piling up in 2005.

The last time the national housing market dipped, it was because of the economy. Major job losses in the early 90s, primarily tied to the downsizing of the defense industry, caused people to lose their jobs, which caused local economies to deteriorate.

Look at Michigan over the past few years... job losses first, home prices followed.

This time it’s different.

Initially, it wasn’t the economy that undid this market. It was a cycle of speculation and greed that drove houses to unsustainable values. It was a game, underwritten (at first) by Countrywide, Washington Mutual, and an army of mortgage brokers who were having a great time “living in the moment”.

It wasn’t a recession that killed the housing market… it was the housing market that started a recession.

Job losses are coming now – massive ones, at that. It’s not good out there in many parts of the country. Any service or trade tied to housing, or the equity that was created in people’s homes, is not a good one to be in at the moment – and that basically means all of us.

The job losses this time are coming AFTER the housing market decline, not before it. If you don't stabilize this market, the job losses will only accelerate.

In the 90s, during California’s last major housing decline, there were still two times as many private party sales as foreclosures. This year, California will see twice as many foreclosure purchases as private party sales.

Reread that sentence, because it’s key.

Values are in freefall in Las Vegas (30% in the past year, according to Case Shiller) and San Diego (29%, according to the same report). Denver is down 4.7%, which makes our market one of the steadiest in the country by comparison.

So the government comes up with a powerful prescription designed to address the catastrophic losses in markets like Las Vegas and San Diego, to stabilize values in the hardest hit areas. Yet Denver, with a relatively mild 4.7% annual decline (and a current streak of six straight months of appreciation, according to Case Shiller), gets to benefit from the strong and heavy medicine this bill aims to use to remedy the national economy.

Massive injections of money into the capital markets. Money to lend. Money to borrow.

The credit markets had frozen. No one would buy loans from banks. Therefore banks had no money to lend. Even if you lived in a stable market like Denver, and had a ready, willing and able buyer, financing was completely uncertain.

Is that going to help you sell your home?

The government is buying loans investors don’t want, and at a significant discount.

In fact, if the government can find a way to hold these notes for a few years, values will come back, and at that point this deal might actually be a winner for the taxpayer. (Let's not get carried away, though. We're presuming reasonable competence to pull this off, and well...)

I don’t like government intervention. I don’t like Washington Mutual (now Chase). I do not like Angelo Mozillo (former CEO of Countrywide), or any other CEOs, now that I think about it.

But this bill had to get done.

We’ve just been handed a $700 billion education on how markets work. Better take some good notes, because $700 billion is a tuition bill we cannot afford ever again.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Just a quick note of thanks to everyone who pitched in last night to make our First-Time Buyers Workshop at the Arvada Public Library a great event.

In the course of just over an hour, we had a comprehensive discussion about the different types of homes for sale in our market, activity at different price levels, neighborhoods that are "up and coming" and some excellent questions about mortgages and finance.

My goal for 2009 is to do at least four of these workshops during the year.

While we were able to get a good amount of publicity out in advance of our workshop - including a press release in the Denver Post, support from the Arvada Chamber of Commerce and lots of signs and flyers leading up to the event, the best way to bring people to programs like this is always by referral.

Remember that I am never too busy for your referrals, and I would be happy to go over our classroom materials with anyone you may know looking to buy or invest in today's market.

Also, if you would like a copy of the workbook we put together for our program, just shoot me a note and I'll be happy to get the materials out to you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Welcome to my favorite quarter of the year in real estate - the fourth quarter.

The best time of year to sell a home, with the best "built-in" excuses.

"It's a lousy time to sell - there are no buyers!"

"It's a lousy time to buy - sellers pull their homes off the market for the holidays!"

"It's too cold!"

Okay, the only argument with any merit may be number three, and only then after Thanksgiving. But I love this time of year.

In an overcrowded industry with too many buyers, sellers and agents who lack motivation, the fourth quarter is where we see who is really serious about achieving great results.

Statistically, the highest percentage of listings on the market sell in the fourth quarter. Because only serious buyers are out right now.

You'll have fewer showings (less inconvenience), and there is still no guarantee you will move your home if it isn't priced right and in great condition. But the quality of your showings will be much higher, and you'll likely sell your home in fewer showings, with less competition.

Let's get to it!

Monday, September 29, 2008


I knew it couldn't last.

It was just a few days ago that I expressed my shock and near cardiac reaction to the fact The Denver Post actually wrote a positive story about our housing market (Case-Shiller Ranks Rocky Mountain Region Tops in Country). Guess the editors are back from vacation.

Check out this headline from The Post:


Now check out the premise: Because Denver's commercial and residential markets are holding up well compared to the rest of the country, investors are having a harder time finding bargains.

"Denver is holding up well compared to the rest of the United States," said Seth Walkov, vice president and portfolio director at Madison Capital Management.

"Denver is looked upon pretty favorably," said Susan Smith, editor-in-chief for PriceWaterhouseCooper's Real Esate Investor Survey.

"Intuitively, you would think bargains would be out there," said Mark Sidell, president of Gart Properties. "But the immediate horizon doesn't look to be populated with great opportunities."

You have got to love this.

The market is too stable for investment.

The Denver Post interviews vultures who say there's not enough roadkill in Denver. Yep, guess that qualifies as bad news.

Monday, September 22, 2008


A look at the August market statistics from Metrolist shows that demand at the bottom of our market continues to grow.

Homes priced under $250,000 currently account for 1/3 of all homes on the market, but nearly 2/3 of all sales.

The absorption rate, or the number of months it would take to sell all homes under $250,000 at the current pace of sales, is just 3.85 months. Real estate economists will tell you that a 6 to 8 month supply of homes is a balanced market. Foreclosure inventory continues to fly off the shelves.

The number of homes on the market at the end of August - 24,648 - is a 20% decrease from the number of homes on the market one year ago. And all of this change has taken place over the past six months.

Wells Fargo announced last week that it was lifting its loan-to-value limits on the Denver market by 5%. In other words, for Wells Fargo programs previously capped at 80%, the new limit allows Wells Fargo to lend up to 85%, and so on.

It's all about the bottom of the market right now, and that's where the healing has to begin.

As banks continue to raise prices on less foreclosure inventory, more buyers will begin to look at traditional resales. As values rise, there is more opportunity for sellers to compete with banks, which creates more move-up buyers. It's a good cycle, and basically the opposite of what we have experienced for the past five years.

At higher price points, it's still a slog. The inventory of homes between $400 - $600k is 15.81 months. From $600k - $1 million, it's 26.07 months. And above $1 million, there is a mind-blowing 59 month supply of homes.

The economic problems plauging Wall Street and our country in general are definitely impacting the mid to high end of our market. But down low, where first-time buyers and investors live, it's a dramatically different story.

I would think the government's effective "nationalizaiton" of the housing market last week will lead to more "work-outs" with delinquent borrowers, fewer foreclosures and less inventory on the market. That means your best opportunity at a good selection of homes is right now, and that's why I think you're going to continue to see significant improvement in the bottom of our market.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


You may not know the name, but I bet you know the face.

George Ross is executive vice president and senior counsel for the Donald Trump Organization, but he is better known as the steely-faced boardroom judge who rides shotgun with Trump on "The Apprentice".

George Ross is the keynote speaker at this year's Colorado Association of Real Estate Investors (CAREI) Convention, which will be held October 18 and 19 at the DIA Crown Plaza Hotel.

I have no stake in CAREI other than to say I find it to be a credible investors association and I have learned to dramatically expand my thinking from the tips and systems I have been exposed to through their classes and seminars.

If you are thinking about real estate investing - or if real estate investing seems scary to you - the two days you spend at this event will help you clear your mental hurdles and take action on the road to financial independence.

The cost for two full days of world class instruction is just $69.

Other featured speakers include "The Troubleshooter", Tom Martino; internationally-known business coach Bill Bartmann; Jeffrey Taylor, who publishes the largest circulation landlording magazine in America; and several other speakers with marvelous credentials including Donna Bauer, Chris Johnson and the president of CAREI, attorney William Bronchick.

I have attended this program each of the last two years and it is guaranteed to light your real estate investing fire.

One last word, in the name of disclosure: the cost of $69 is ridiculously low for speakers of this quality. They will be trying to sell coaching programs, books and audio sets. So what. The program is awesome, and if you're serious about retiring early, you should go.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


New construction may be down in Colorado, but it’s not out.

In previous posts, I have been critical of the building industry in Colorado. A high percentage of “underwater homeowners” have beautiful new homes… that they purchased three or four years ago with interest only – or worse yet, subprime – loans that were happily dished up by in-house lenders working for builders all over Colorado.

Build the homes, pump the values with incentives, finance anyone… and then get out of town, fast.

Having said that, new construction will come around again. It always does.

That’s why I invested a day last week on a program offered by the Builder Realty Council (BRC) which basically dissects the construction process of a new home, from land acquisition to zoning to permitting to construction to sale to warranties and follow-up.

Because a new home receives a certificate of occupancy and passes city inspections does not meet it is well built. In fact, I always recommend a thorough home inspection, even on new construction.

In this economy, builders are feeling the pinch and are slicing profit margins and absorbing higher costs for materials and labor just to stay in business. New homes are probably a better value today, especially with tighter financing guidelines, than they were a year ago. But I would still be very careful with new construction.

It’s a “retail” acquisition in a “wholesale” market. That alone should cause you to think twice.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Another major financial domino fell today with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy. Also took the markets down big time, as I'm sure you know.

Investors (and investment banks, and foreign governments, etc) have money to park, and right now they are parking it in bonds, which pull down interest rates. In fact, 30-year mortgage rates have fallen by almost 30 basis points again today - which is a huge move, on top of last week's 50 basis point drop.

Money is getting very cheap, which is great if you are buying a home.

I'm sure the phones will be ringing off the hook tomorrow at my lender's office... refi-mania is back in style, and this turn of events should only help the housing market.

But let me caution you right now - most lenders have laid off staff and many have gone out of business altogether. There are a lot fewer players in the game, and suddenly there is tons of business on the table.

That means (potentially) poor service and frustrating delays.

If you are under contract, currently listed or thinking of buying, make sure your contract dates are stretched to reflect a major traffic jam with your financing. And don't even think about using a lender you don't know and trust.

Just a word to the wise...

Thursday, September 11, 2008


We've heard for a while that FHA downpayment requirements were going to be increasing as a result of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act bill that was signed by the President in July.

Now we know the date.

For all FHA case numbers assigned after January 1, 2009, the new downpayment requirement will increase from 3.0% to 3.5%.

On a median-priced home here in Colorado, that means downpayment requirements for an FHA buyer will be about $1,200 higher next year.

If you are a first-time buyer, here are five reasons you need to take action before the end of this year:

1) There are now 20% FEWER active listings in the Denver MLS today than one year ago - and inventory continues to fall

2) Banks are raising their prices on foreclosures in the face of stronger demand after more than six months of multiple offers and bidding wars on distressed homes

3) New foreclosure filings FELL by more than 17% in the second quarter in the Denver Metro area

4) The federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this week have caused 30-year fixed interest rates to DIVE by more than 50 basis points

5) And now, we know downpayment requirements on FHA loans are going UP in three months

I didn't even mention the $7,500 FEDERAL TAX CREDIT available to first-time buyers who purchase between now and June 30, 2009.

The time to act really is right now. That's why I am hosting a series of First Time Buyer Workshops beginning Wednesday, October 1 at the Arvada Public Library in Olde Town Arvada.

Please call or email for more information or to reserve your spot. And remember, I am never too busy for any of your referrals - especially investors or first-time buyers!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I want to call a brief time-out this morning for a quick (but relevant) detour from our normal menu of real estate-based conversations.

As many of you know, my wife is a second grade teacher, and as such, education is one of our great passions.

Have you seen SHIFT HAPPENS?

It's an 8 minute, 19 second YouTube video that was put together by a group at Arapahoe High School in 2006. It has now been viewed over FIVE MILLION times on the Internet and has spawned the formation of hundreds of discussion groups and strategic planning committees at school districts all over the country.

Think the world is changing? It already has.

CLICK HERE to view the video, and let me know what you think about it.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Yesterday, we discussed some of the problems with new construction over the past few years. The conversation is important, because we must learn from the mistakes of the past to ensure a better future.

There is plenty of blame to go around - and the real estate commission has responded with heavy reforms including mortgage broker licensing and aggressive enforcement of ethics violations.

Buyers, too, have changed in the face of this experience. For too many years, buyers throughout the country put the size of their dreams ahead of the size of their wallets.

Having said that, "almost-new" construction is a great deal today in many areas. With prices that have fallen 20% or more from their peaks, and a great quality of life driven by newer schools, community parks and updated infrastructure, there's a lot of value for the dollar.

Want to know where some of the best values are located? Drop me a line and I'll let you know my thoughts.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I had a discussion on Friday with an old friend who I have not seen in about two years. During our conversation, we talked about foreclosures, and I made a comment to him that I have made to many of my buyers that should be emphasized once again.

In many of the newer communities that have been hardest hit by foreclosures, the damage was caused in large part by the builders themselves. For example:

* Builders routinely threw in "extras" like finished basements, prepaid HOAs, appliances and upgrades, vacations in Mexico... anything to get buyers to pay the highest possible price for their new construction, especially in the early stages of the build-out

* Once higher values are established and on the books, the "pullback" begins - fewer incentives at the same, inflated prices

* An unregulated mortgage industry up until 2006 - since addressed by the state legislature with strict registration and licensing requirements that has placed greater oversight on "builder-owned" mortgage companies and driven many corrupt lenders out of the state

While there are many reputable builders out there, the fact remains that many builders looked only at pumping up values for a short period of time - two or three years, or enough time to finish the build-out, sell the inventory and move on to the next project.

What happened in many areas is that people overpaid for homes they could not afford with loans set to explode shortly after the builder left town.

And the net result was a trail of foreclosures.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I've fielded several questions lately on the $7,500 first-time buyer tax credit that was part of the housing bill the President signed in July.

A quick primer:

* First-time buyers (defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years) who purchase a home between April 10, 2008 and June 30, 2009 are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit on their federal tax return

* If your outstanding tax liability at the time you file your taxes is less than $7,500 (and for almost all first-time buyers, it is well below this amount), you will receive a check back from the government for the difference between what you owe and the $7,500 offered in the credit

* Beginning with the following tax year, the tax-credit recipient "repays" the $7,500 tax credit in $500 increments over a 15-year period

* If the home is sold prior to the time your credit is repaid, the balance of the credit is accelerated and due for the tax year in which you sell your home, unless you take a loss on the property, in which case it is forgiven

So as you see, the $7,500 tax credit is much more like a 15-year interest free loan. It's nice to have money coming back (for possible upgrades and home improvements?), but it's a loan, not a gift.

As always, I recommend you speak with your tax advisor or accountant for specific details.

A couple of thoughts about the tax credit:

* While an interest-free loan is not as nice as a pure tax credit, you do get to take the money in today's dollars in repay it without any adjustment for inflation

* For young families and those just starting out, the $7,500 can be very helpful in solidifying your finances during the early years of homeownership

* If you are looking at foreclosures (and a lot of people are), this money can go toward your rehabilitation and improvements of the property

The tax credit is a tool, not a gift. But it does give you the ability to make some strategic decisions about managing your finances, and options are never a bad thing to have.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Is Denver the top performing real estate market in the country?

According to Case-Shiller, it is.

The most recent Case-Shiller Home Price Indices Report, released today, shows that Denver is the top performing real estate market in the country, with home prices rising 1.5% in June and by nearly 4% during the second quarter of 2008.

(I'm still waiting for the "Breaking News" alert to come across my BlackBerry from the Denver Post.)

I've said it here for months, and those who have listened have benefited: the Denver market was the first into the foreclosure pit, and we will be the first out of it.

The absorption rate for homes in the Denver metro area priced under $250,000, where 80% of the foreclosures occured, is now 3.5 months. Nationally, the inventory of homes stands at 11.2 months. Economists will tell you that 6 months of inventory is a "balanced market".

Now I won't come out and tell you it's a great time to sell a home. The rising prices cited by Case-Shiller are largely attributable to banks raising their list prices on foreclosures, a byproduct of six months of multiple offers and bidding wars on discounted homes. Bargain hunters and investors are out in force, and most of the appreciation we are seeing is at the bottom of the market.

But it's a start.

The government's efforts to revive the rest of the country's falling markets with increased loan limits and tax credits for first-time buyers will only accelerate the pace of our recovery, which is why this remains the best opportunity for investors and first-time buyers in at least 15 years.

I'm kicking off the first in a series of "First Time Buyer Workshops" Wednesday night, October 1. Details will follow in a few days.

Monday, August 25, 2008


At long last, it's here.

Denver is front and center this week as host to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, and let’s hope our city shines under the national spotlight.

There is a mix of tension and energy around this event that’s palpable. It’s been exactly 100 years since Denver hosted a major political convention. In 1908, Democrats nominated William Jennings Bryan, who would later lose in the general election to William Howard Taft, the hand-picked successor of Theodore Roosevelt.

Mayor John Hickenlooper has pledged that this will be “the greenest convention in the history of the planet”. That means lots of organic foods, recycling crews working downtown 24/7 and 1,000 bicycles freely available to the delegates for their use throughout the week.

It’s interesting to see the mayor driving for a green convention when Hickenlooper himself was drawn here by the oil industry, arriving in 1981 as a geologist during a time when our energy sector was booming. “We were like lemmings,” he said in a recent interview with the Denver Post. But when oil crashed in the mid 80s, he did what Denver itself has done successfully many times over – he reinvented himself and emerged from adversity even stronger.

Hickenlooper opened a saloon – the Wynkoop Brewing Company – which today stands at the center of the revitalized LoDo (“Lower Downtown”) district. His popularity and influence in reviving LoDo helped him to become elected mayor in 2003, and he was re-elected last year.

Rugged, diverse, resilient and beautiful… that’s the Colorado I love, and the one I hope America sees as it tunes in this week.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


With a major political convention coming to town this week (have you heard?), I was feeling a bit inspired this past week and so I posted a number of thoughtful and provocative quotes on my blog.

A lot of folks I have talked to are planning to "lay low" this week to avoid the gridlock that's predicted in and around town. Some are headed for the mountains.

Not me. When the competition eases up, that's when we charge forward.

Would love to know if any of these quotes connect with you. ALL of them have been applicable to my life and business at some point.

See you around town!

Friday, August 22, 2008


From Anthony Robbins:

"If you can't, you MUST!"

“There are NO failures… only outcomes.”

"The quality of your life boils down to one thing... the quality of your communication with yourself."

"There is no change without commitment."

From Thomas Edison:

‘The trouble with most people is that they quit before they start.”

From Brian Buffini:

"Everything you do must be an endorsement of either your character or your competence."

Thursday, August 21, 2008


From Robert Kiyosaki:

• “Is investing risky? The greater risk is NOT to invest!”

• “Each day, you must decide who will prevail in that inner battle between the wimp and the warrior”.

• “Wealth is measured in time, not money.”

From Henry Ford:

• “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re right!”

From Robert Allen:

• “Success happens when your dreams finally overcome your fears.”

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


From Jim Rohn:

• "Things will change for you when you change"

From Hellen Keller:

• “Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”

From Herb Kelleher:

• “Skills can be taught, character cannot.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


From Tom Peters:

• “Evolution is the systematic correction of errors.”

From Brian Tracy:

• “Comfort zones are the enemy of human potential.”

From Kwame Granderson:

• “Fear is what happens when you focus on the WRONG things.”

Monday, August 18, 2008


From Warren Buffet:

• “The difference between gambling and investing is... education.”
• “If you can’t control your emotions, you cannot control your money.”
• “It’s only when you tide goes out that you can tell who’s been swimming naked.”

From Michael Gerber:

• "The conflict between what we know and what we don’t know is called… growth.”

From Raymond Aaron:

• “The rich invite help… the poor resent it.”

Sunday, August 17, 2008


By a nearly 2 to 1 margin, out-of-staters are moving into Colorado faster than any other state in the country. So says the 2007 U-Haul Top 10 U.S. States Growth Report, reflecting the nation’s top growth states for families who moved during 2007.

The report indicates that for states with more than 20,000 families moving, Colorado had the highest percentage of growth, with 7.01 percent more families moving into the state than out. Oregon was second, with a gain of 3.67%, and Kentucky (3.28%) was the only other state with growth above 3%.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Bank of America said in a regulatory filing this week the average borrower with an option adjustable-rate loan ("Option ARM) now owes 95 percent of the value of his home, up from 76 percent when the loan was made.

Seventy-two percent are making less than full interest payments and 12.4 percent are at least 90 days delinquent. The average FICO credit score for existing Option ARM borrowers has dropped to 680 from an original average score of 715.

Bank of America has said about 66 percent of the Option ARMs went to California and Florida borrowers.

Bank of America is not the only big lender with Option ARM headaches.

Washington Mutual, the "godfather" of the Option ARM loan, has seen its shares tumble over 90% this year, from $40 to less than $4 per share.

Wachovia Corp said borrowers in its $122 billion "Pick-a-Pay" Option ARM portfolio owed 85 percent of what their homes were worth on June 30, up from an original 71 percent. In California's Central Valley, the average was 109 percent.

In an Option ARM loan, borrowers are given four payment options: 1) a minimum payment based on an initial one-year "teaser" rate (often as low as 1.95%); 2) interest only on a 30-year fixed rate amortization; 3) principal and interest on a 30-year fixed rate amortization; 4) or an accelerated paydown option based on a 15-year amortization.

Needless to say, it's option (1) that killed the Option ARMs, and the shareholders of those who offered it.